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Year 13 to First Year. What’s the REAL Difference?

19 September 2017

4 mins

You braved it through A-Levels and successfully made it out the other side. With great results you reached the requirements for your much-anticipated university offers.

You can relax for now, and get ready to take in everything that life at university has to offer! From meeting new friends, joining societies and sports teams, to a variety of events that will be taking place over the first couple of weeks to help you get settled in.

To have made it this far, I am certain that many of you are aware of some of the main differences between studying at college / sixth form, to studying at university. You are living away from home, yes. You are studying in one area, or joint honours, of course. But I am sure that in your last year of college, many of your teachers would have been beginning to take a step back from ‘spoon feeding’ you in preparation for uni; which is probably one of the best things that they could have done.

1) Independent study

In university, it is honestly all about YOU. It is only you that will determine how much you learn, how many lectures you attend, and consequently, how well you will do. English is a very independent subject, and there is no ‘go to’ textbook that I can rely on to tell me everything that I need to know for a deadline. Because of this, it is important that I am able to carry out effective independent research and choose essay questions that I know I will be able to excel at. This would definitely be a top tip of mine.¬†Find what you are good at, and do it WELL.

However, although studying at uni is very independent, that does not mean you are completely left to fend for yourself! Of course, there are many people that you can turn to for help and guidance, from your lecturers and personal tutors to your course friends. So it is a good idea to make lots of friends on your course, you will find yourselves helping each other throughout the years.

2) Finding Yourself

Moving to university is the beginning of your life as an independent adult. It is where you will grow, learn more about yourself, and for many, start to become who you really are. It really is a free environment, as opposed to a college or sixth form (I had to wear a strict uniform at my sixth form). So don’t be intimidated by the size of the university, instead, view it as all that much more to explore. Go out and get involved, meet new people, step out of your comfort zone, and have fun. Make the most of the time you have!

3) Free Time

Making the most of your time is crucial at university as you will all soon find out. This is because the time you have in year 13 can be very limited. I remember being in a never-ending cycle of waking up at 6 AM for sixth form, going to school all day, before coming home only to study even more! This tight schedule made it seem like I had an abundance of free time in first year, which definitely was a relief. However, with all of this free time, it can be so easy to become lazy – avoid this! Try out a new sport, join the gym, hang out with friends, and be active, You do not want to look back on first year and only remember the naps you took every day… all day.

4) Diet

A last point that I would like to touch on is diet! Now, this is one I didn’t think about much until I had completed my first year. But looking back I really wish I did. First year at university is where many of us were living away from home for the very first time. That means working out what it is really like to have complete freedom, even over something small as our diets.

It is interesting to see the people that lose weight during their first year, and the people that put on weight. I was personally someone who put on a TINY bit of weight, which was great considering the vast amount of junk food I consumed in my new found freedom, and by being surrounded by friends who did not know how to say no haha. Yes, enjoy your freedom, but try not to go overboard with the junk food, for your own sake!

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