The jump from A-Levels to University in an arts degree
You may think the change from GCSEs to A Levels was a significant increase in workload, it is something a lot of people talk about. Learning doesn’t necessarily get easier when you narrow your subject focus as I thought at fifteen it just means you are learning more complex information about one subject.
However, the jump from A levels to university is more complex as you are entering a new educational system with its own values. It is a larger leap and a new kind of learning that you will need to adjust to. The structure, intensity and form of workload will be foreign to you when you first arrive at university. If you feel overwhelmed that is normal.
Seminars are very discussion based and everyone is encouraged to take part. In film and English it is all about arguing for your personal interpretation of the text. Unlike at school you won’t be told your view of the text is wrong, just asked to explain it further.
At school and college, you are used to having a full timetable of lessons with the odd free/study period. Most arts and humanities degrees are the reverse of this structure. They involve more independent study and thought than anything you will have done before. You are encouraged to form your own opinion and argument on each topic through working alone which is hard to adjust to at first. It is not as restrictive as any form of the national exam, you are not studying to regurgitate important factual information.
The form and type of work are very different. At school, a large portion of the workload is homework, whereas at university it is more a mixture of reading pre-seminar preparation work and essay assignments. There is a greater variety in the form of work you need to do.
University essays are more challenging and much less formulaic than the GCSEs and A-Levels essays. School essays tips are tailored you what is needed for exams and often discourage a unique writing style. University essays need detailed planning, a strong structure and a unique voice. Writing them requires balancing your original ideas with the views of academics in the relevant field. This can be hard to do but is necessary to do well.
Unlike at school the responsibility to work is on you. You have to work motivate yourself. Nobody will be reminding you to do your work like at school. To be ready for University you need to be passionate set your own hours of independent study.
If you are struggling with this academic change remember you can always talk to your personal tutor (like a form tutor) in your department
Overall the jump is a scary change at first but is feasible once you are settled into university routine.
I hope you have found this blog post helpful and useful. If you have any questions about the jump, feel free to ask in the comments or message me.