Off to uni? Make sure you're prepared

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Students around a table

Are you off to uni in September? How well-informed would you say you are? Do you know how many contact hours you’ll be getting? Or what your biggest expense is?

According to research by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) and Unite Students, many students are under-prepared for university.

Over a third (66%) expected more group work than at school, while a similar number (60%) thought that more time would be spent in lectures than in classrooms at school.

Only a third of students with mental health problems planned to tell their universities.

Again, only one in three realised that rent would be their biggest expense (excluding tuition fees) – with many expecting to spend more on course materials, nights out, food or student societies.

Nick Hilman, director of Hepi (one of the organisations who carried out the study) said that having realistic expectations is key for getting the most out of the university experience: "We set out to fix this gap because people who expect a different student experience to the one they get are less satisfied, learn less and say they are getting less good value for money."

He said it’s up to everyone to make sure know what to expect when they arrive at university: "Schools, parents and universities – not to mention policymakers – all need to help school leavers get real about their expectations."

Some info to help you

  • Contact hours are less than at school, and you’ll spend less time in lectures than in the classroom. This will vary depending on your course, but in a subject like history, you could have less than 10 weekly hours of contact time.
  • Most universities have a counselling service, and the student union can help with mental health problems. If you suffer from mental ill health, you can find out from them who the best person to speak to is if you need help.
  • According to polling organisation YouGov, a quarter of UK students experience mental health problems, so don’t think you’re the only one.
  • The average weekly cost of purpose-built student housing (where you’ll probably be staying in your first year) in 2015-16 was £146.

More advice from Success at School

Image credits

Lead image via Flickr



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