Taking a step up from further education, FE, in the form of sixth forms and colleges, to higher education, HE, at universities is a big one with many changes to consider – some for the better, some for the worse. If you’re currently enjoying the sixth form and believe that uni will just be the same, you’re in for a surprise, so be sure to attend the university open days of your choice to discover more about what uni life will actually be like. Here we’ll be taking a quick look at some of the main differences you can expect to encounter.
Well, you already suspected that work at uni would be harder than that of the sixth form, but in what ways? Currently, in you’re A-Levels you will be studying three or four subjects alongside each other which divides your study time, but when you get to university you are only going to be focused on one subject – albeit divided into a diverse number of modules. It goes without saying that when you choose a subject to specialise in after the sixth form that it should be something you have a genuine interest and passion for, otherwise you are quickly going to get bored with it.
Due to this, you are going to be delving deep into different aspects of your subjects instead of just getting a broad overview as you did in the sixth form. You will be unpacking topics with longer essays than you’re used to and conducting much more research on your own to enhance and challenge your own learning process.
Freedom and Independence
Not attending secondary school or sixth form classes is likely to get you in hot water with your parents after they start receiving letters and emails regarding non-attendance. Uni, on the other hand, puts the onus on you to attend seminars and lectures, and there will be nobody chasing you up or forcing you to attend – it’s totally up to you.
Your lecturer won’t keep track of the hundreds of students attending each lecture, they are educators, not babysitters, however, your absence will be noticed if you fail to attend smaller group seminars and discussions. Yeah, you can miss the odd one if you slept in, but repeated non-attendance is likely to cause your course supervisor to intervene and give you a firm warning.
Scheduling and Timetables
The sixth form is an ideal step after secondary school to get you accustomed to a slightly looser timetable, and this is made even more flexible once you get to uni. School has rigid 9 am-3 pm timetabling, as does secondary school, and the sixth form follows the same pattern but you may have the odd afternoon or morning of.
Heading into university you can expect full days off, days where you only have one lecture or seminar to attend, leaving you many hours to conduct your own studies. This might be in the form of creating essays, spending time getting familiar with your ever-so-long list of recommended reading materials, or even taking up a part-time job or volunteering position related to your course.
Uni attempts to make the subject topic your only thought and desire without any other distractions.
You’ll also have more responsibilities when it comes to your accommodation and social activities. With no parental curfews in place, you have to learn to be responsible for your own scheduling of study time and balance that correctly with your work and personal life. You can’t stay in bars till the early hours and still, expect to be fresh as a daisy for your 9 am lecture.
You won’t find yourself being ‘spoon-fed’ different facts and figures by your tutors, and you’ll also have to make a dedicated effort to supplement your own learning. That means going to the library in your own free time, making the effort to conquer course textbooks, and set your own workload. All of that requires a mature spirit, which at 18 you may feel you are lacking, but it’s all part of growing up.
Many differences abound between uni and sixth form college, but these are just some of the main differences you need to take into consideration. If you plan on attending open days near you, these will give you a much greater understanding of uni life compared to school life. If you want to keep up to date with more posts like this, check out our blog here, or join us on Facebook or Twitter.