From High School to University
From pupil to student
There are a lot of new things to deal with when starting as a University student. You are academically qualified, since you meet the requirements for the education you have been accepted into. But there is still much to learn, and it is a big transition to go from being a pupil to being a student. A transition that demands a lot from you.
To help you along with your new role as a student, we have gathered what you could call “the fine print when starting your study”. By this we mean everything that is good to be aware of as a new student.
Two different ways to learn
In Upper Secondary School:
- The teacher has the responsibility -- homework is given, texts are reviewed, and the teacher checks to see if the pupils have understood the text.
- There is coordination to a certain degree across subjects, the teachers talk and you try to avoid workloads colliding, for example written assignments in several subjects in the same week.
- The entire curriculum is important and you often expect yourself to know the entire curriculum - also to show the teacher, that you can achieve as high a grade as possible.
- As a student, you have the responsibility for what you learn. Your lecturers will often have more focus on academics than pedagogy.
- Only specific parts of the curriculum will be reviewed and you should learn to prioritise which texts you want to study, as well as what is best to spend time on.
- You have to learn to have a critical approach to the texts you read, and to immerse yourself greatly into the subjects, so that you can relate to “why” rather than “how”.
- You will need to plan your time independently. There will be times with big workloads (for example, with project writing) and it is not certain, that your fellow students work in the same way as you.
These very different expectations of the role as a pupil and a student respectively say it is okay to take some time and put some energy into switching from one role to another.
Five Good Tips
1. Become familiar with the new setting
Research the physical setting of your study -- where is the library, where is the secretary?
But also, research the formal setting. You should especially get familiar with the curriculum of your study. In the curriculum, there are a lot of central information like subject descriptions, the structure of the study, options during your study, exam forms etc.
You should also get to know your study counsellor -- a student who is hired to offer counselling about the study. The counselling can be worth gold in the beginning of the education, but also during.
Moreover, you should get familiar with exam rules, activity requirements etc., which can be found on your faculty website. You will also be able to find a lot of information on Moodle.
2. Expect confusion and new demands
Hopefully you will find the beginning of your study exciting with a very special atmosphere and enthusiasm -- but it is almost unavoidable that you will experience confusion during the same time. Expect it, instead of being surprised and disappointed in yourself.
Expect an overwhelming amount of information about this that you may struggle to handle in the beginning -- but the pieces will fall into place as time goes and you get a handle on the life as a university student.
You will be met by demands of independence and responsibility of your own learning. This takes time to adjust to.
You will also be met by expectations of you considering your study as a full-time job -- meanwhile being tempted by the freedom that comes with a study.
3. Be Social
While you are spending a lot of time on your study -- we challenge you to also spend time on your social life!
As a student, it can be difficult to let go of the studies and take time off. There is always another text to read, always an article that is relevant to your field of study. This big universe of academic news is a part of making your time of studying exciting. Meanwhile you will hopefully also find that your social life during the study pulls on you. Your social life will often be the exact thing that gives you new energy. In the good life of a student there is balance between the academic life and the social life, so you don’t need to feel guilty if you prioritise the social along with the academic.
Loneliness and work stress are frequent causes for dropouts. So, close the book, turn off the screen and get out among your fellow students.
Talk to someone, already on the first day, and participate in social activities on your study. For example, join a committee and be open and approaching.
Fill in the “Wheel of Life” and consider if you can do something to increase your satisfaction with one or more areas.
Becoming a competent student is about making sure that you have the right tools. For example, a computer, that is sufficient for what you study demands. But it is equally important, that you practice studying skills like Reading Techniques. Information searching is another important skill which AUB can help you with.
5. Remember - most students feel just like you!
It might appear that everyone has their student life under control. They may have, but most students experience doubt and insecurity. Even the students who seemingly stand out academically. Talk to your fellow students about your insecurity.
It can be the small things like getting around campus, but also the slightly bigger doubt about the deeper meaning of the subjects and doubt about having made the right choice of study.
By being honest you will often find a new sense of security and motivation. Most will recognise the fear of not being part of the community, both socially and academically. Find the courage to initiate a conversation about how confusing starting at a university can be.