Adjusting to the academic step up - An image of a person using a laptop

July 20, 2021, by Shweta

Adjusting to The Academic Step-Up of Uni

The journey from school-goer to university student is rife with challenges. And that’s not including the academic hurdles. We know that this year may still look very different for some of you but Pursuing a higher education will offer you a lifetime of opportunities, experiences and lessons learnt. Of these, the adjusting to the academic step-up is one of the most obvious road-blocks and one that is easily overcome. With time and support, you should be able to efficiently adjust to your course. However, we, the Student Life team, strive to make your transition into university a little easier. With that in mind, today we’ll be talking about the academic step-up from school to university.

Varying teaching methods

While your schooling may have taught you what to think, university will teach you how to think. Learning is significantly more self-directed and interactive at university level. Your ability to engage right off the bat will typically depend on the curriculum you studied prior to university. But, wherever you’ve come from, university teaching will always be a little different than what you’re used to. One of the most effective ways to adjust to this is to find your learning style. Here’s a fun little quiz to help you figure it out: The crux of it is to figure out how you like to learn and how to best inculcate that into your course; this can mean mastering Anki or making your own notes.

Familiarise yourself with the library

Before coming to university, I must’ve used a library 2-3 times and that’s being generous. Keeping up with the 21st century has meant that students do much of their research online. However, libraries are more than just musty shelves and leather-bound books. On arrival, you may be offered a library tour. Take it! Familiarise yourself with the lending process and computer rooms. Register your account sooner rather than later. With time, you will even find your favourite spots in every library (hint: top floor of George Green is always #1). Libraries facilitate academic research, group study and quiet, dedicated revision. These are integral to your academic success.

Master writing essays and giving presentations

Both, essays and oral presentations, are necessary evils at university. Whatever course you do, these assessments will creep up on you in some way, shape or form. Group, individual, virtual; you cannot escape them. So you might as well master them. Here are some specific skills you might want to get comfortable with ASAP;

  • Writing and compiling citations (hint: use an online citation editor, like My Bib)
  • Evaluating various sources of academic research to find relevant content
  • Using academic databases, including using method like Boolean searches
  • Confident and well-paced presentation skills
  • Conducting Q/A sessions at the end of a presentation

Don’t fear failure

It’s not uncommon to face failure at university. Be it an inconsequential assignment to a final exam, most of us will battle subpar grades at some point in our career. Embrace it! Asking for critical feedback and learning from your mistakes will allow your failure to become your greatest motivator. Failure can even become the fuel behind your success. So allow yourself to fall but always, always get back up again.

In doing something you love at university, academia will become less of a challenge and more of an intellectual stimulus. Leaning into the power of academia will make you a better student and will have long-term effects on your career. So, embrace the challenge and enjoy the roadblocks ahead! After all, discomfort breeds growth.

Until next time,


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