Understanding University Culture

For a lot of new students, adapting to university culture and the new ways of learning after more than a decade of school-based learning can be a shock to the system. Some of the main differences you might notice include the list below.

Keep them in mind and chances are you’ll adjust just fine - but if you do end up struggling, you can always speak to Help and Support or your personal tutor who'll be assigned to you at the beginning of term for some advice.

  • Learning is more self-directed: Unlike at school, you are now completely responsible for ensuring you get your work done on time and to a high standard. Whilst they’re there for support, your lecturers won’t be checking up on your progress and it is your responsibility to motivate yourself to get to the library and meet all your deadlines. Sounds daunting - but you’ll know your deadlines early on, and with some careful planning and a bit of willpower you’ll likely adapt before you know it.

  • Learning is more independent and ideas-based: Your lectures will introduce you to the core ideas around a given topic, and seminars will provide a fantastic opportunity to discuss ideas and encounter new viewpoints. But unlike at school, where much of your assessment revolved around recalling facts, at uni you will need to do more critical thinking and personal research in order to develop new arguments and ideas - which is a really exciting opportunity.

  • More people = less personal: Chances are you’ll be used to knowing everybody in your class of 30 - but at university you could be sitting in lecture halls of 200-300 students when Coronavirus safety allows. But don’t worry. Your seminars are a great way to get to know your peers and you’ll quickly get used to the large lecture audiences.

  • More resources: As a university student you will have access to a huge amount of resources which you may find overwhelming at first. In actual fact, being able to draw on these resources during your course is a real privilege, and the libraries can provide support workshops to help you make the most of them. The FutureLearn courses are a great way to get deeper understanding of a specialist subject, or look into something that's different from your course to keep things varied.

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