A-Levels to University: The Linguistics Edition
When I joined Warwick last year, I felt very nervous about the step-up from A-Levels to university. The Covid-related disruptions didn’t really help the apprehension about online learning, or blended learning, or whatever learning the year would serve us.
However, when it came to it, the step-up wasn’t really that daunting. In fact, I’ve loved the change – and here’s why.
You get to study the subject you want to study
For me, this definitely is the best part about moving from A-Levels to degree. Whilst I really liked A-Levels, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being able to focus solely on Linguistics. We have the independence, even in first year, to tailor our modules to learn about things that we are interested in – and the hard work feels much less tiring when you are genuinely passionate about what you are learning.
You gain both depth and breadth of knowledge
At A-Level and GCSE, there is less time for deepening our understanding of complex ideas or theories. It’s more about covering the bases. Within a degree, there is much more space to delve into topics that interest you. The extra reading lists mean that you can look deeper into modules that you particularly enjoy, or get involved with extra-curricular opportunities in that area. When you are only studying one subject, depth of knowledge becomes essential as you start to specialise and work out what you are interested in.
Also, remember that ‘covering the bases’ at A-Level and GCSE means that, by the time you reach university, you will have a solid and broad foundation of knowledge to work from. I remember worrying that I’d have forgotten everything I’d learnt at A-Level by the time I started university (given the abnormally long gap between the two). Fortunately, I found that once I’d landed back in education, my A-Level knowledge returned, and it has prepared me for the degree well.
Less memorisation, more application
At A-Level, we began to explore the application of knowledge, rather than just spouting facts. At university, this ethos is even more important. Linguistics has a lot of coursework, which provides us with the opportunity to put our knowledge into practice, and learn how to work with what we know – rather than just being able to regurgitate it at a moment’s notice. This is much less stressful than having to rote-learn everything, and infinitely more enjoyable.
Lots of support and resources
Most people are in a similar position when they arrive at university. Everyone has to adapt to the teaching style of their new lecturers, new essay structures, and higher levels of independent learning. There will be a lot of resources for you when you arrive, to help you navigate this new system – and it doesn’t take long to get used to it. The lecturers are always happy to help, as are other students, and the Library is a great source of information about, well, anything really. If you do join Warwick, and in particular if you join Linguistics, there will be a whole community here to help and support you.