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Minding the gap between A levels and degree

Tuesday 2 September 2014 Making Friends/Settling In

Higher education will present you with some new challenges. Your degree may be taught differently to what you're used to, so be prepared to adjust your approach to your studies. Degree courses vary greatly but this is a good starting point for what you can expect at higher education.

Private study

In further education it's likely you were taught everything in the classroom by a teacher.

In higher education, you will be expected to read and learn much of the material outside of the lecture hall and some content may not even appear in your lectures.

You may be given a reccommended reading list by your lecturers to help you get started. Come prepared for lectures, seminars and classes so that you can raise any questions you may have.

Class sizes

When you're in a lecture, you will be one of many people. You will be expected to listen and take in what you can and opportunities to ask questions may be rare.

Your seminars and classes are, in contrast, likely to be much smaller groups for more interactive learning sessions with your lecturer.

You will be expected to have done the reading that's been set. Make sure you study outside of your lectures and classes, so that you can get the most out of them when you are there.

The temptation to avoid studying

For many students, the newfound freedom to manage your own time often means more time is spent socialising, attending clubs and societies or working a part time job.

A good work-life balance coupled with a strong work ethic will ensure that you benefit from both the academic and extra-curricular activities on offer.

Get to know your lecturers 

These are the people who mark your essays, set the syllabus and will mark your exam papers. Having a good relationship with your lecturers will ensure you know how to do the best you can for each assignment.

Seek help if required

As well as having a good relationship with your lecturer, if you are struggling with your course you can easily ask them for help.

You can go to your lecturers if you're finding it difficult to settle into a new way of studying, the workload is proving too much, or you're unsure about how to manage your time effectively.

You can also seek help from your students’ union or from the university student advice centre. The most important thing is to ask for help early, minimising any negative impact on your time at university.