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What is the transition from college to university like and what should I expect?

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Moving from school to University is such a momentous step. It’s one of those milestones that so many of us await for years, and yet when it arrives, we can’t help but feel nervous! There’s no denying that it’s a huge transition, but it doesn’t need to be anywhere near as scary as you might imagine.

It’s important to recognise that any concerns you may have are highly valid and even natural. Depression and anxiety – especially if you’ve suffered before – can rear their ugly heads during any stressful stages of life. Many students experience feelings of self-doubt; wondering whether university was the right choice and if they will succeed – the jump from college to university can be a really big one for some people. This may trigger some students to feel incapable of completing the tasks asked of them. Try to break things down into more manageable aspects, and remember that you always have choices.

If you still feel increasingly unhappy in these respects, you can seek professional help. Have a read of our guide to different aspects of the change for some advice!

Moving Out

For a lot of young people who have to leave their family home for University, moving into student accommodation is the first time they’ve ever lived independently. Liberty Living’s student accommodation ensures that you have everything you’ll need, whether that’s a desk to work on those essays, or a big kitchen for you to prepare your food. Of course, you may still have to go without some familiar home comforts, and this can take some adjusting to! No more Sunday Roast from mum (although you can of course make your own…), and no more pets or siblings. Depending on how you look at it though, that last point might not be such an issue after all (!).

In all seriousness though, it can feel potentially very lonely to move out into the big, wide world on your own – especially when leaving family and friends that you’ve known since forever. A network will be the best thing you can create for yourself at University, so always be on the lookout for some common ground. You may even surprise yourself; University is a great place for forming bonds with people that you may never have imagined. You can always talk to your family and friends back home, but don’t be afraid to reach out to your Uni if you’re really struggling as well.

Workload

It’s the workload that makes people most afraid of University, hands down. As to how big it’s really going to be, that depends entirely on your course, the institution and the amount of effort that you’re going to put in! Medical students and people studying things like science and architecture seemed to be busy non-stop. On the other hand, I’ll be honest – as an Arts student, I felt like there wasn’t a lot of work at all. In fact, I did more during my A Levels. I had about 8-10 hours of actual contact time per week at University, and they told me you were supposed to match that in your own time with personal study. I rarely did! At school, you have someone breathing down your neck if you’re not doing certain things at certain times. In fairness, a lot of workplaces are like that as well. University is not. I’ve always been able to self-manage my time, although I’m a little chaotic with a short attention span, so procrastination is an issue. It’s something you’ll need to work on.

If you’re not doing a lot of University work, make sure you use your spare time wisely. Find work experience or a part time job – but don’t take on too much. That’s one of the biggest lessons you’ll have to learn!

Remember, during your first year, your grades don’t count towards your final results. Use the time wisely, but don’t worry if you struggle. You can seek help, and it’s all a learning curve.

Some of the more intense courses can be very challenging, and you might feel overwhelmed or pressured. Your mental health in this respect is so important, as is your physical health if you’re exhausting yourself. If you end up doing too much, you could seriously do yourself some damage. Talk to your tutors for some extra support, and please don’t feel like a failure just for not wanting to burn the candle at both ends!

Social Life

In school or college, everything’s on a schedule and accounted for. You’re in classes throughout the day during the week, and then weekends and holidays are free. At University, your schedule may well be erratic. You might only have lectures or seminars two days a week, at really random times a day. Your friends may well have a lot more hours of classes than you, or perhaps they’re working the weekends when you want to go out. Whilst you might find yourself with more time of your hands, your friends might not have the same time on their hands as you! This can be complex, but it basically just means that you get to make more friends.

 You should also make sure that you’re filling your free time with balanced activities. Don’t just go out and drink every night! Join some societies, cook some meals – even explore your new City.

You have a new-found freedom at Uni, but whilst it’s a great time to do whatever you want, it’s also a great time to discover some really worthwhile things that you actually enjoy! It’s also a time to reflect on what you want as a person. There is no shame in seeking extra support at such a big stage in your life.