A Level Playing Field for Physicists – OurWarwick
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A Level Playing Field for Physicists

In this post I want to offer some reassurance. On my Warwick open day (many years ago now) one of the key messages that stuck with me from the talks given by lecturers was this:

‘If you can get onto the course in the first place, you will be able to get through it.’

Of course, me being the pessimist I am, I didn’t believe it. I got the grades to get into Warwick but still panicked that I would be behind everyone from day one and would stand no chance of being able to catch up.

My advice to whoever is reading this: Don’t be me!

This was the best piece of information given on that open day and if I had realised at the time that it was true, perhaps I would have listened to it and saved myself some stress. Trust me, there is enough stress associated with moving to university anyway so don’t go adding on unnecessary bits like this.

If you are accepted onto the course, believe in your own ability!

Speaking to friends at other universities, I came to realise how well structured the Warwick physics course is. The first year and in particular, the first weeks of term one, are very much aimed at levelling the playing field. Not all A level courses follow the exact same syllabus so to make sure no one is left behind, it really felt like there was a conscious effort made to get everyone up to speed.

There will be times in the first weeks when you will probably be thinking you are just repeating stuff from A levels but remember, when you are flying, someone else may be seeing the material for the first time and vice versa. It feels like this really encourages camaraderie amongst students as you are instantly in a position to be a support network for one another.

I took all of this effort to bring everyone up to speed for granted in first year. I couldn’t imagine it being any other way but, as I have already mentioned, it seems from friends’ reports that this is not the same at other universities. They all seemed to describe being thrown in at the deep end and instantly having work stresses alongside settling in stresses. Learning this really made me appreciate the Warwick course.

The pace of the course does feel like it can be flying along sometimes but overall and looking back now, I can see how well constructed it is. Classes in first year made me feel like there was a support system in place and I liked that there were moments of relief in lectures when we would come onto a new topic and there would be some element of overlap with A level courses as a quick reminder to get everyone on the same page.

Learning becomes more and more independent as you go through the years but I have never felt completely abandoned. University is not school but there are efforts made in the physics department to prepare you for the expectations that will fall on you later. Make the most of this!

Set yourself up well in first year and stay on top of assignments and you will be okay. It is very easy to slip behind in an unsustainable way with all of the other new opportunities suddenly presenting themselves at university but if you can just keep up with the current lecture topics and follow through the course as it is designed, it will be a very rewarding experience I am sure.

So don’t stress! You’re work at A level will come to pay off when you head to Warwick and if there are any areas you are still unsure on you’ll be able to catch up with everyone else. No one is left behind without any opportunities to achieve and I hope this message can give you some relief over the coming months of preparation.

Photo by Cupcake Media on Unsplash

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