A-Levels to University: what changes?
The jump from A-levels to University can be quite a controversial debate on whether it is easier or harder. I have found the answer varies heavily depending on which university you are at, and how rigorous your course is. However, there are some things that are different regardless of which uni or course you are moving onto.
How to choose modules/ subjects?
At least in my case, I picked my A-levels mostly based on entry requirements for university, subjects I had previously done well in, and subjects I was genuinely interested in. However, when you get to university there is another highly important consideration, assessment methods. Hear me out, though some of us considered essay versus exam subjects for A-levels, university modules need even more thought. You are taking smaller and more frequent assessments for modules, not just exams after 2 years, so thinking about whether you genuinely prefer exams or coursework is important. Make sure you balance your modules out so you are not constantly handing in coursework, or only having a million exams come end of year. Another thing to note is that essays are quite different at university and so is coursework, so don’t expect a repeat of A-levels just slightly harder.
Referencing… oh no
The pain that never goes away, referencing. One of the most annoying things to learn when coming to university, but a skill that will soon be ingrained into every research paper you do. It is essentially a technique that ensure all authors, ideas and papers are dutifully given credit if used to form ideas or quotes in your papers. Warwick uses Harvard referencing which I suggest you get familiar with as soon as you can. There are several ways of referencing, from uni supplied resources and guidelines, to reference generators online (accuracy can be a little varied). Especially in your first year, find a good plan of how you keep track of sources and reference, trust me it will save you hours in the long run.
Help and Guidance
Many of us have heard people say that university will “not spoon feed you” and you have to learn for yourself. This is quite true in comparison to previous years of study. Personally I found guidance to be more limited and had to be sought out instead of widely given. Especially in assignments, university focuses a lot more on using your own brain to interpret questions and answers instead of giving you preconceived ideas (a huge change from the focus on past papers and mark schemes). However, if help is needed, professors and tutors are always more than happy to lend a hand if you contact them (but you need to do that yourself). Remember to take control over your own learning, don’t rely on “teachers” to keep you on track!
Well those are my top 3 changes I noticed when moving to university academics, though I am sure there are many more. Another thing to remember is everyone’s experience will be different, so don’t stress too much before you get here and start! Take each step carefully and don’t hesitate to ever ask for help or support.