Not sure what to expect when starting university?
We interviewed one of our Graduate Outreach Interns, Aaron, to find out what his journey was like transitioning to university.
Since he recently graduated, he will be able to provide some great insight from his experience and even give you some tips if you’re soon to be starting university.
Hi, I’m Aaron!
I recently graduated from university with a degree in Forensic Science.
I’m going to talk a little bit about what adjusting to university was like for me, after finishing college.
Transitioning to a new environment can be challenging sometimes, but hopefully this will give you more of an idea of what to expect.
Moving Away From Home
Moving away for university was the first big challenge I faced, especially because I moved in to my new flat about a month before university officially started.
Three of my friends from college were coming to the same university as me, so we decided to get a private flat together instead of moving into halls. This helped me with my transition to university life since they were familiar faces and we got to hang out all the time and explore new things together.
Not everybody chooses to move away for university, and it can be challenging at first to get used to the change, but it can also be a great way to gain some confidence and make new friends.
Click here to find out more about the different types of student accommodation.
You’ve got to become a lot more independent when moving out which means staying on top of shopping, cooking, laundry and keeping your flat clean.
This doesn’t sound like a big deal but it used to take me and my flatmate a whole day to plan a shopping list, go shopping and then cook our dinner. Learning to share spaces, like the kitchen and bathroom, took some time as well but we all became closer friends after the initial struggles.
Tackling these challenges together made us a lot closer and we still meet up every few weeks even though we’ve all moved to different places now.
Learning at University 📝
Another big aspect of transitioning to university is getting used to how the teaching works.
You don’t interact with lecturers as much as you do with your teachers at school, college or sixth form. This is because university relies more on independent study, which is you working on your own or with classmates.
Take a look at my timetable below to see what an average week was like for me.
There isn’t any class time dedicated to doing work at university, so you’ve got to do a lot of work in your own time which is great for improving independence and some other transferrable skills.
It wasn’t easy at first but my lecturers were always happy to meet outside of class to go over any areas I was stuck on. The lecture PowerPoint slides were also always uploaded in case I missed any important information.
It’s important to work on managing your time while at university so you don’t end up doing everything at the last minute.
Thriving Through Transition
There are lots of different emotions that come with starting university and it is different for everyone.
On one hand it can be really exciting because you’ll be studying a subject you enjoy, making friends, getting involved in new activities and gaining independence.
On the other hand it could also feel overwhelming at times adjusting to the workload and living with new people. You may also feel slightly homesick which isn’t unusual either.
This is all normal and it gets better as you go through university and gain more experience and confidence.
I’ve been on trips away from my family before, but I still missed the familiarity of my bedroom. Something that helped me when moving to university was bringing my posters and books to help my room feel more like home.
Throwing yourself into all of the activities available and getting to know the people around you also helps with settling in. I joined a few societies like the LGBTQ+ society and Taekwondo to meet people with similar interests and learn new skills.
I found it easier to make friends by doing an activity within a society because you have something to talk about immediately, which takes away any awkwardness.
Top Tips for Transitioning
Here are 3 tips that I would have found useful when starting university:
Familiarise yourself with your university before you go. Go to open days, applicant days or look into any events that the university are putting on in the first few weeks. It’s less overwhelming if you know what you’re going into.
Take college/sixth form notes with you to uni. I had assignments in my first year of university that were similar to my college assignments, but I hadn’t saved that work to refer back to, so I had to start all over again. You should also keep contact details of your teachers in case you need to ask them for a reference in the future.
- Take time to breathe. Transitioning to university can be a tiring process. Try to take some time to recognise when you need a break and when you feel like you can try something new.