Making the transition from school to University

10 June 2024

Students sit and read on the grass outside the Stannary
Students on grass
Type: Text
Category: Student finances

This article was written by English with Creative Writing BA(Hons) student Deryn.

Going to university can feel like a really big and scary step in your life. For many young people, university is the first extended period of time that they’re spending away from home and it feels daunting. In reality, once you move to university, you’ll soon realise that it’s not nearly as scary as you were thinking. University quickly becomes a second home for many students, a place where you begin to find yourself, face new challenges, meet new people and learn new lessons.

For most people, university begins straight after you finish school/college. You complete your application in year 13 and, once you receive your A-level results (or equivalent), you find out which uni you’ve got into, then at the end of summer, you move there! This is the standard way students go. However, there are actually many ways you can transition from school/college to uni. A gap year, for example, taking some time to travel, work and save money, or even complete a third year at college. A travelling gap year is now a popular thing to do before going to uni, a chance to experience your first real freedom before moving back into education. The bottom line is, however you choose to transition (and it varies from person to person), they’re all acceptable.

Personally, I decided to take a gap year before coming to university. I moved about eight hours from home to come to Falmouth and I really felt like I needed to take a year to grow as a person, especially after Covid-19, before making my way into education again. This year allowed me to do exactly that. I felt far more prepared and ready to go to uni after my year was up, my portfolio was much stronger, I was happier with the huge distance I knew I had to move and altogether, it was the best choice for me and I’m so thankful to have done it. It also gave me the opportunity to save for my uni accommodation - something which I was very thankful for!

When I came to uni, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from my actual course. As an English and Creative Writing student, I had a pretty good idea of what I thought English was, but this all changed when I came to Falmouth. Something that I really appreciate about the difference from school/college, is that not everything is set up to be a memory test at the end of it. A-level and GCSE exams felt like exactly that and, as someone with a terrible memory, I hated that. At Falmouth, everything is about gearing you towards the industry that you want to work in. For me, I want to go into screenwriting, so my modules gear entirely towards setting me up for that, which is so much more helpful, but also, I gain so much experience along the way. 
I think a big worry about university is how much you have to manage your time here. When I was in college, I was told that lecturers wouldn’t care as much as school teachers and you have to motivate yourself if you want to do well. The first half of this is not true, the second is. Lecturers are always there to help you, they can give you advice and guidance on your course, they can give you one-to-one sessions if you need them. Your lecturers will always be happy to give you more help when you need it. I would say that the difficult part is self-motivation. Usually, students do not live with parents, who are able to tell them to make sure to be at lectures on time or to make sure they’re doing the right amount of required out-of-lecture-time work. This means that it falls on you to make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to on that Thursday morning, when you’d really rather just skip your 9am. Trust me, we’ve all been there. 

I find that at uni, you get out of it what you put into it. The workload on your course will be harder and heavier, but you have to remember that you’re only focusing on one subject and it’s one that you chose! You know you find that subject interesting, it’s probably something you want to do in the future, so that means you’ll enjoy it more. University is a challenge, definitely a step-up from school/college, but when you do everything that you’re supposed to (the weekly reading, attending your lectures, making notes), it’s all relative. You’ll get out what you put in. 

Altogether, university is one of the most enjoyable experiences a young person will get. It’s a great feeling, living away from home, self-governing your life, learning to live as an adult, but you just have to keep in mind that you’re there to study and get your degree. Choose what you want to study wisely, because it’s only if you can find the motivation within yourself to study, that you’ll succeed. A daunting feeling, but trust yourself and your instincts and try your best!

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