If like me, your older uni mates have been bantering on to you about how ‘easy going’ uni is, and how much of a ‘party’ it is, you’ll probably be quite shocked when on your second day of term, you are bombarded with work. 

After the stress of A-levels, where you’ve probably worked harder than you have ever worked before (or drank more than ever before), uni may seem like a welcome reprieve from that never ending mountain of revision. However, I feel like this is a very common misconception, at least for many of the courses, and so my hope is that this article can prepare you for what I like to call ‘The Academic Transition!’

“ Uni may seem like a welcome reprieve from that never ending mountain of revision… This is a very common misconception…' ”

1) Organisation

This is probably my ultimate tip for success in university. In A-levels, you need to stay organised so that you can hand in your homework on time and if you don’t, your teacher will probably remind you (or give you a detention). University doesn’t work like this. Firstly, you need to stay on top of any assigned work because that usually goes towards your grade. Secondly, they really don’t care if you don’t hand it in and they won’t chase you for it: you’ll just get zero. Additionally, you’ll most likely have some scheduled tutorials that you must attend to earn credit points, as well as other seminars. I used to be pretty good at mentally storing deadlines in my head during A-levels, however, I really can’t get away with this in university. I highly recommend investing in a diary which can keep you organised, which you can find in Paperchase, or Amazon. Personally, I’ve been using the organiser from Urban Outfitters, which has been perfect!

2) Exams and Plagiarism

Lets be real, we’ve all done the last minute panic the night before and got our course mate to bail us out (shout out to you guys) but you have to be so careful of doing this at uni, as they use plagiarism detecting software. This software scans the internet looking for similar phrases to the ones you’ve used, which catch people out every single year, something which is no where near as vigilant in A-levels.

Not only is this quite embarrassing, but reports of plagiarism are dealt with very seriously at uni. Not only can it result in a deduction in marks and a note on your academic record, it can also mean expulsion. Therefore, my top tips would be to ensure than you plan out your work schedule well so you’re not rushing towards a deadline the night before and ensure that you source all of your work, be it direct quotes, phrases and even ideas and concepts. It’s pretty arduous, but it will save you a hell of a lot of trouble!

“ Reports of plagiarism are dealt with very seriously at university ”

3) Lectures

You have to attend lectures, which are your primary source of information which the majority of your exams will be based upon, but no one is going to call your parents if you don’t. It’s totally normal to find the temptation to skip lectures too much during first year but it kind of goes without saying that you should make a conscious effort to attend them (even the ones at 9am where you’re nursing a mighty tequila slammer hangover).

Making effective lecture notes takes time to figure out, but I’d advise jotting down any key words or examples that you could research at a later date. Lecturers make the key information very clear, so don’t get too bogged down in the nitty gritty details that you miss. Remember, these lecturers have probably devoted their career to this certain area of study so, whilst you could stress about the details regarding the life-cycle of a slug, you probably don’t need to know this to pass the exam.

There is no doubting that the transition between academia in A-levels to uni is a big one, not to mention the lifestyle changes, but it is an incredibly exciting time that you should relish. I hope these tips help you feel a little bit more prepared to knuckle down at University and achieve from day one!

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Written by a student that ironically, should be writing their essay Olivia Parkinson, 10 months ago
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