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How is University Different to School or College?

How is University Different to School or College?

by Ramita

Sixth form and university differ in many ways – including teaching, learning methods, daily routines, and adapting to a new city. We asked one of our current students, Ramita, how life at university had surprised her after school.

I moved all the way from Milton Keynes to Newcastle just under six months ago, and despite struggling in the first couple of months, I have finally adapted to my new life.

How learning at university is different from school

In sixth form we had tutor time every morning, and we had a lot of support given without asking for it through this method.

In university we are given a personal tutor for when we have issues. As I have not had any issues as such, I have only met my personal tutor once this year for introductions. Although we have access for support at university it is not mandatory to take it on, that’s the real difference.

Another difference is the size of the classes, my A-level lessons I had at most 7 peers in the class, whereas in the lectures there can be up to 250 students, although this is quite intimidating at first you do get used to it over time.

The expectation for independent study is far more for university than sixth form. We used to use a textbook for our lessons whereas now we are only given notes after lectures, aren’t given a textbook and don’t have as many past paper resources for the course, as each module differs due to the lecturer and their way of teaching their courses.

In A-levels our only assessment for maths was the summer exams, whereas now we have online tests, coursework, and end of semester exams. Every assessment counts towards the final module grade unlike during sixth form where we had practice tests in lessons every few months which didn’t count towards anything. We are however given access to multiple libraries on campus with loads of resources for all types of courses throughout the university.

At university you can see what method of study works best for you, we are also given dates at the start of each module for any problem classes and drop in sessions where you can go in and ask any questions you may have and the session is not compulsory.

 My daily routine at university

You realise how easy life is when you’re getting home cooked meals every day from your mum only after moving away and having to cook food every night.

During a normal sixth form day we would have a full day of lessons and always finish at the same time every day, whereas at university we just have lectures at random times. Some even finish as late as 6pm.

Normally on a weekday, I start the day by going to any lectures I may have and then I come home in between them to make dinner and or have my lunch. During sixth form, I would stay in school the whole day and my mum would have food ready to eat at home when I got back. Being at university forces you to start taking responsibility for everything including; cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry and so on.

Although you have free time, personally I believe you have more during sixth form as your only real responsibility is to study for A-levels. Your daily routine is changed quite a bit in the sense that you have to start taking care of a lot of things that you didn’t have to before. Once you get in the habit of doing all your chores on time you fall into a good routine and it is not as difficult as you might think.

Adapting to Newcastle

To be honest, the hardest change for me was getting used to living away from my family. On many occasions I wanted to just get the first coach back home.

I go home once a month to see my family and always go back for holidays so it isn’t as hard anymore, I can also call them anytime in a day if I miss them too much. One thing I definitely miss daily is my mum's home cooked meals which I love to indulge in when I’m back in Milton Keynes. The best way to not feel out of place at university is to talk to as many people as you can during the first month of university so that you don’t start to feel lonely. After that it just starts becoming easier and you settle in.

Personally I love the city of Newcastle more than Milton Keynes, so adapting to the city itself was less of a challenge for me. There’s a lot to go see as well and it’s always a really lovely day or night out.

Ramita D

So in conclusion, there are many differences between the lifestyle you have at sixth form and at university, however you can adapt and make it as amazing as you want by staying organised, joining societies to meet people, going home frequently so you don't feel home sick, and more.

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