As a student having just completed my A Levels, I’ve started looking into some strategies on preparing for my future studies at university, and keen to share them!
My first step has been to explore the different elements of my course and identify the reading lists which contain the recommended articles, books, and papers to read before the new academic year begins.
If you can’t find the reading list for your course yet, perhaps email your university and ask if you could get it early, allowing you to get a head start on your reading over the summer.
When you do start reading, try to consider points which may come up in discussion and make a short list. This will mean that you can come to your first seminars and tutorials prepared with talking points, helping you to ease into the routine of academic life.
While looking on your university website (or multiple universities if you’ve not worked out your firm and insurance choices yet!), investigate when the open days are. While the pandemic has meant that some open days are online-only, I would recommend attending them to get a good feel of the place you could study and also have the chance to ask any questions. As well as academic staff and tutors, current students are often also on-hand for you to ask about their experience at the university.
One question I’ve made sure to ask each university is how the teaching is structured and the amount of timetabled learning vs independent studying. This has been super helpful in giving me an idea for how university will differ from the demands of school and sixth form.
My sixth form college was brilliant at introducing individual learning with a ‘50/50’ scheme, where for every one hour of timetabled teaching, you were expected to do one hour of independent study.
After speaking to my friends who are currently at university, the general agreement seems to be that for every one hour of timetabled learning, two to three hours of studying is anticipated. This makes getting into good habits with independent study even more important, and revision is a great way to get into this. With less instruction with revision, I’m refining my revision techniques to make sure that I use methods to absorb as much information in as little time as possible. This also ties into time management with deadlines, prioritising and goal setting being increasingly important at university.
Finally, make sure you keep an eye on important dates and deadlines. From student finance (21st May), to making firm and insurance choices (19th May), and applying for housing, there’s a lot you can get ahead on to make the transition as smooth as possible – make sure you set those calendar reminders well ahead of time!
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