School to University: The Big Switch (that’s surprisingly small…..)
It’s easy to get caught up in all the chaos of transitioning from school to university, everything can feel confusing and daunting. No matter where you are coming from, or what you feel your starting point is, it’s important to remember that everyone is in the same position. However you are feeling, you are far from alone.
Suddenly everything is lectures and seminars, not lessons, and you have to know exactly what they mean, and what to do. This can be quite intimidating but is easy to simplify. A lecture is a taught session, often going through a PowerPoint with some discussion, like the start of a lesson to introduce a topic. You take notes throughout a lecture on the subject, picking up key details, but don’t worry if you miss some things! Usually, PowerPoints are made available to students, for this reason. A seminar is a bit like a giant discussion group. You will be given something to read or research, then go to talk about your thoughts and findings. They sound a lot more intimidating than they are, trust me!
University isn’t about being the perfect student from the offset. Truthfully, you just want to come as the student you are, because a major part of what you’ll learn here is how to be a better student. You will never be wasting time finding new ways to study, because frankly learning how you’ll work best can only help in the future!
If you get stuck or have any issues, you can always turn to your tutors, especially your personal tutor. This is someone you have meetings with at least once a term, but you can have more if you want. They are there to help guide you, and make sure you are getting the best experience you can. Should you need any advice, these are definitely the people to turn to. Or, there are societies where you can find other students with similar interests to you, who can also help. Many have mentor, or ‘family’ schemes so older students can help newer students, all making that ‘big switch’ feel smaller. This year, I was a ‘parent’ for a society, and actually it was just a great way to meet new people. As much as anything else, the families are there to give you people to arrive at events with. Often we’d arrange a location that people knew how to get to, and walk to new spots together, or we’d just stop off at different people’s accommodations to pick them up en route. We’ve all been there before, we’ve all dealt with the worries and the stress of moving somewhere new with people you’ve never met before and places you haven’t been too. Systems like this are meant to help you find your feet and remind you that wherever you are there are people here for you. Whether you stick with a society or not is completely up to you, but especially while you’re still settling I recommend trying as many as possible, because we’re all here to help you enjoy your time at university. As Alice in wonderland says, if you don’t try, you’ll never succeed. Sure, not everything will be perfect all the time, and you might not like them. But you’re a step closer to knowing just by giving something a go!