A-Levels to Undergrad – Adapting to University Life


First of all: Congratulations! You have gotten into university. You should be immensely proud of yourself, considering the hardships you and your peers have endured throughout the last few years. This is both a terrifying and exciting time for you. Most of you will be moving to a new place, moving into a flat of strangers, and starting to study a subject you love but on a completely different level. This is going to be daunting for anyone at any age. The best thing you must think is that everyone is in the same boat, everyone is going to be doing the exact same things you are.

The first piece of advice I can give is to not panic. The first few weeks are going to feel like a lot. They will feel incredibly intense, but you must remember, university is the chance for you to study a single subject in more detail than you ever have before. It is going to be massively different from A-Levels. The skills are essentially the same (for most subjects anyway) and it is going to take time to adjust, do not put pressure on yourself because you feel like you are out of your depth or falling behind. This happens to everyone. However, I suggest trying to stay on top of things as much as possible. This can prove difficult, but if you get into the habit in your first year, by the time you enter your third year it will be your greatest asset.

My second piece of advice has to be to ask questions! No question is a silly question. Lecturers can be incredibly intimidating, I know. They are experts in their fields and have undertaken years of research and study to get where they are today. But they are all lecturers because they have a passion for knowledge. They are in this career because they want you to learn from them. They enjoy you asking questions, even if you think they are silly. I can promise you that 90% of the time they’re not, and most lecturers will be happy someone is talking in their seminar. I also haven’t met a lecturer who was not open to speaking to students one-on-one about their concerns about the course or workload or any similar enquiry.

The independence that comes with university life can be incredibly overwhelming. I can’t say I adjusted to it very well at all.  Doing your own food shops, washing and cleaning is a massive change for a lot of students. I think everyone at first gets excited about going to the shops and buying whatever you want. The first week’s food shop usually consists of various flavours of noodles, crisps, and chocolate. You think wow yes, I can finally buy everything I want. No, this is not exactly how it goes. I cannot emphasise enough – Budget and plan! Sit down on a Sunday night, think of meals you can have for the week, or you can make them in bulk, and then buy the ingredients for these meals only and a few snacks. I can promise you a diet of Jaffa cakes and giant Wotsits gets boring after a while, and you will crave vegetables. Something I swear by is frozen vegetables – you can get them in bulk, they last longer than the fresh stuff and it makes you feel good for actually having something that isn’t artificially green for your meal.

Most of all – Have fun! University is exciting and new, please make the most of it.


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