Freshers 101: 12 tips for adapting to university study

Taking the leap from A-Level to university study can be hard. A step up in academic expectations, the unfamiliarity of referencing and dealing with heavy material, and the intensity of the workload might seem intimidating at first — but don’t worry, because year on year, it’s the same for everyone.

There’s no doubt that adapting to university-level study will be a challenge, but remember — that’s what you’ve come to university for. So embrace it!

As part of our Freshers 101 series and to help you on your way to a first (fingers crossed), we asked a bunch of experts — including recent graduates, current students, lecturers and bloggers — for their tips on taking the leap into university study. Remember: they did it, and so can you. Read on for 12 snippets of their wisdom…

Barnaby Walter, The National Student writer & former Film Editor:

“Be nice to all booksellers; they will be your friends throughout your course, particularly if you are doing an English degree. And do what you can to make their jobs easier (a.k.a. know which of the 120 editions of Northanger Abbey currently in print is the one you need for your module).”

Duncan Spencer, Managing Director at Insurance2Go:

“After a late night library session ensure you log out of university computers, as you don’t want to run the risk of having your hard work deleted or even plagiarised by another student.”

Freddie Stevens, The National Student writer:

“Don’t underestimate the grandeur or majesty of a Pukka Pad.”

Dr Richard Bowskill, Priory Group:

“Be aware that the learning environment is about to change. Help and advice might be needed about how to become a more independent learner, with less externally imposed deadlines.”

Abbie, social sciences student and blogger at Yet Another Student Blog:

“Write out your timetable. I find that having a printed out copy of my timetable pinned on my notice board (and colour coded!) means that I know exactly when and where my lectures and seminars are. I also add regular society meetings/sessions and anything else that occurs on a near weekly basis.”

“Organise your laptop. Spend a little bit of time making new folders on your laptop. I personally have a ‘UNIVERSITY’ folder under my documents which is broken down into years, then into modules. If I have to download readings, power points or podcasts, they all go in there. I also have sorted out my ‘One-drive’ folders so I can get all of my documents on my tablet, laptop and phone. (I assume the Cloud is the same for apple users?)”

@caramatt, via twitter:

“Most unis offer Microsoft office for free with your login email. I spent £70 on it before realising.”

@eleanorria, via twitter:

“Don’t be afraid to admit it if you get there and uni/your course isn’t right for you. You should do something you love.”

Michael Brecht, CEO of Doodle:

“Do remember to do some work. It’s easy to forget the real reason you went to university in the first place — to study. Motivating yourself can be half the battle, but organising study groups with your class mates can help combat this. Sending out a simple Doodle poll to your study buddies will make it easy to work out the best time for everyone and hopefully help improve your grades as well!”

RefME is also a life saver for every student frantically trying to remember how to reference an hour before their deadline. The app automatically creates the references for you by simply scanning the barcode of the book you’ve used — panic over!”

Angie Wyman, Course Leader, BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors, Textile Art at The Royal School of Needlework:

“Communicate with your lecturers and tutors. Talk with your tutors and student welfare staff when you have concerns about your academic life. If anything arises that may affect your performance in class don’t keep it to yourself; let someone know — only then will they be able to help. Staff at your university will have encountered every issue you can think of and will know exactly how to help.”

“Learn how to receive criticism. Sound advice for all students, but particularly those in the creative arts, is to learn to separate yourself from your work and not take criticism personally. Remember any critique of your work says nothing about you personally. Conversely when asked for feedback on others’ work gives it constructively, but aims to be truthful and generous.”

For more freshers advice — on subjects including health, finance and accommodation — visit our Freshers 101 round-up piece.

For more freshers advice — on subjects including health, finance and accommodation — visit our Freshers 101 round-up piece .

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