September 15, 2019, by Anjni

Adjusting to the Academic Step Up

So with the second week of September having come and gone, university is edging ever nearer, and all the anxieties and fears associated with a new beginning – the environment, the activities, the people – will begin to spring forth, filling your mind with question after question, what if’s and but how’s. Okay so that may seem a little dramatic, perhaps it’s not exactly like that, but I’m sure as an incoming student you must have a few questions regarding the transition, especially in terms of the academic side of things, I know I did before coming here. It’s a common fear, and a lot of students worry that they will buckle under the pressure and won’t be able to keep up with their peers when they arrive at university. But adjusting to the academic step up isn’t nearly as difficult or impossibly scary as it may seem.

Do Some Reading – and not just UoN Student Life Blogs!

Sometimes certain courses will expect its students to be familiar with certain texts before they begin at university, and one way to get ahead is to do some extra reading before you arrive. Such texts can be found on course-specific reading lists online or in module handbooks, and whilst it may seem boring and a little extra, getting through some of the material, even if you don’t cover EVERY book on that list (normally covering just a few is enough!) it will help you tremendously, and you’ll feel a little better about your course before it even starts.

Ask Questions!

Even if it’s your first lecture, if there’s something you don’t understand – ask! Even if you don’t know what you don’t know (which is most of us, trust me). If you’re worried about sounding stupid or about being wrong, don’t be! You don’t need to do it in front of everyone, you can always approach professors after the lecture or in their office, and if you’re too scared to ask in person (like me!) you can always drop them an email and they will be more than happy to help. The same goes for your personal tutor, should you need, they will always be at hand to help assist you in your academic journey.

Speak to Your Peer Mentor (and Peers!)

Probably one of the most useful ways to adjust to the step up is by talking to people who have gone through it and lived to tell the tale – and your peer mentors have done just that! But who even ARE they, you ask?  Most courses will assign you a mentor, a current student in their second, third or subsequent years of your course, to help guide and support you as you progress through your first year, providing tips and advice on how to absolutely SMASH the year like a boss. Having gone through the same thing a year or so earlier, they are a great resource to have and can provide a student perspective on things that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to get from your professors.

Speaking to your coursemates is also a great way to get through the academic side of things because they’re going through the same thing as you; sitting through the same classes, doing the same exams. So it’s really useful to have a chat with them, to share notes and work together, but also to just share your fears and worries about your course, and your year ahead. It can be very comforting know that you’re not alone on this academic journey, and indeed the university journey in general, and so communicating and forging ties within your course can be extremely beneficial in aiding you as you navigate through your first year.


Things may seem scary at first, after all university is far more fast-paced than previous education and the work is harder, but not necessarily any less achievable. It’s a big change to what you may be used to; it’ll bring more challenges, but also more rewards and more memories – and THAT is something worth looking forward to. It’s all part of the journey, and I wish you the VERY best of luck as you get ready to embark on it!

Posted in Anjni