As someone who is entering and experiencing university for the first time it has undoubtedly created or expanded on a myriad of challenges one would have to face in a new setting. They range from personal issues such as motivation and fitting in, to academic issues such as new methods of learning and constant further reading outside of lectures. This essay goes through several issues I have had to face as new university student and how I have managed to either overcome the problems or aim to resolve them.University is a massive change compared to secondary education regarding the people around you. There is no longer a monopoly of a certain ethnic group such as Asian-Pakistani, that I was used to in secondary school, but instead it is a clash of many ethnicities, races and cultures, all with their own diverse backgrounds. Honestly, this was one of the things I was looking forward to as a university student: meeting new people and immersing yourself in a world you never knew. However, as with all people experiencing a new setting, I found myself in a situation where I knew no one around me. I was quite nervous which is wouldn’t be strange at all as many would also be nervous in the same situation (Smith, 2004).
All my Sixth form friends had gone their own paths; different universities, jobs or repeating their sixth form studies. I had to find and make a new group of friends, so we could all integrate and go through university together, making it less of a daunting experience. For me personally, I found it quite difficult at the beginning since I’m not really an outgoing person, finding it hard to initiate conversations with others. Luckily for me, I eventually made a good group of friends during my lectures after sitting down with them and talking. We all started walking around the campus, getting used to the locations and getting a feel of the university. It felt netter to do this with other people in the same situation as you.
I also found friends from the past that also happen to attend the University of Bradford, making university seem like it was less of a big space and this helped make it easier for me to adapt and ease into university. With my Sixth form friends, they all knew me in depth and knew about my personal situations in life since I was comfortable with them etc. but with new friends always comes the worry of whether I really fit in with them and this brings up issues of whether my clothes are fashionable enough, whether I have the latest tech-wear and the stress of trying not to make a fool of myself in front of anyone.
I’ve noticed I’m communicating more with my old Sixth form friends now than when I was with them every day. This might be due to me still not being used to my new friends. However, I am only halfway into my first year of university and hopefully, as I get more used to my friends and peers and involve myself in group studies (Biggs, 2007), I will start to relax more around them and start to enjoy university life more.
Shifting to University is a massive change in terms of responsibility. It’s probably the hardest issue I’ve had to face. You have complete freedom and control over all aspects of your learning. This means that you have the power to decide how you spend your time without anyone coming to check up on you.
As a result, I have complete control over my attendance to lectures, how much time I put into my social life, my sleeping patterns and my revision timetable. For me personally, I have an extremely bad track record with time management which I’ve had all the way since secondary school. As is common with over one-third students (O’Brien, 2002), I tend to procrastinate a lot in my free time meaning that I spend way too little time revising and tend to leave most things last minute regardless of its importance, maybe because I find it too stressful (Burka and Yuen, 2009). If I had to choose the biggest issue that is most likely holding me back from being an ‘effective learner’, it would most definitely be my lack of time management. This would be considered the main root of all my issues academically. My bad time management affects my motivation to excel and revise, which affects my grades negatively and all this increases my stress levels which is quite common amongst students (Porter and Swing, 2006). I have aimed to tackle this several times in the past but have failed. I am currently trying to tackle this issue once more and have created a time table to follow.
Its not a strict timetable that I need to follow exactly since that would bring in more stress of trying to follow it precisely. This is where I probably failed in the past. I am starting off with baby steps so that I can get used to following a basic timetable. Whilst it is slow, there is some progress. For example, for essays, I am aiming to write regular, small bouts of writing (Murray and Moore, 2006).As with any institute of learning, The University of Bradford has its own styles of teaching and learning methods which took some time to adjust to.
In secondary school and sixth form, whilst there was freedom and responsibility on your part to revise, the teachers still checked up you to make sure you understood etc. and gave help when it was required. University came as a shock at first because it felt so impersonal, completely different from how I was used to. The lecturers don’t check up on you, and they don’t take any initiate to make sure you’ve completely understood the content.
Its up to you to make sure you understand by reading the content and setting up meetings with the lecturer. This was a problem for me because I tend to be quieter during discussions, not really asking many questions or even putting forward ideas etc. I’m aware I need to be more Depending on the course you do, the amount of time you need to spend in in timetabled lessons varies. In my instance, I had to attend university three times a week, with each day consisting of only around two hours before I was done for the day. The lecturer gives the lecture, sometimes there was a seminar and then the day was done. The class sizes were quite large which could get quite overwhelming and several times I felt like I was the only one who didn’t understand anything during that lecture.
There is also essays that needed to be done with strict deadlines and with extra emphasis on no plagiarism. Whilst I have written essays with references to sources before, its never been to such an extreme extend with a specific type of references. This personally took some time getting used to since I’m not really used to keeping a dossier of when and where I got my information from.
However, since I’ve now done this before, and know I will continue to do so in the future, I am starting to incorporate it when I do my information research. I am slowly getting used to doing it. It also takes some time to find out and get used to how the essays and grades are marked.
You need to find out what exactly the examiner is looking for when reading your essays etc.I have noticed how I am not making notes during lectures and revision as much as I used to in the past. Instead I am relying more on web based information, or resources recommend by my lecturers (Moore and Murphy, 2005). This isn’t good since note taking is an important skill to have and enables me to learn and understand material in a way that is personal and unique to myself. It has also dawned on me how important further reading is to the course. Whilst I have been accustomed to not reading outside the subject for any of my past subjects in secondary education, not doing so for university will lead to you often being confused or slightly behind in the lesson since you have no idea what the lecturer is talking about. Its quite an important part of your independent learning which I had to find out the hard way.
However, from this, I have fixed this issue by accessing the module handbooks, available for each of my subjects and finding books to read from the reading list. This benefited me a lot more than I thought it would since it consolidated my knowledge and gave me concepts and theories that the lecturer may not have covered which I use in my essays and during seminars.One issue I’ve had that I wish I resolved earlier is making use of the university facilities. There are a wide range of facilities and things to do in university that are all open for everyone such as; using library resources, joining clubs and societies, joining campaigns and there are even weekly skill seminars about revision and essay writing etc. It is very easy to join clubs or visit seminars due to the staff there ready to help you and it would make the university transition many times easier. Joining a society or campaign enables you to meet new people, make new friends and make you feel like you’re a part of something.
Using library resources and going to skill seminars gives you that advantage since you know how to use and find information easily. It also allows you to improve your essays/ revision techniques massively since the writing clinics available can help you make sure you are answering the question to the best of your abilities (Elbow, 2000). I unfortunately left this too late since I underestimated how useful joining and participating in such events would be for me. However, it isn’t that bad since I still have ample amounts of time to benefit from them in the future.I’m sure a common issue faced by many people who start university is doubting whether they made the right choice.
‘Is university really for me?’ ‘Am I doing the right course?’ ‘Am I really going to enjoy this for three/ four years?’ I’ve had my doubts about whether I was making the right choice by going to university and whether I was going down a career path I’d want to do in the future. It didn’t help when I sometimes struggled with understanding the lectures as it increased my doubt. I don’t really have a clear, fixed path of what I want to be in the future and have changed my mind multiple times regarding this. However, I realised that this is the wrong mindset to have as I’m sure many others may be confused by the lessons as well.
Instead of constantly doubting myself I should aim to do the best I possibly can and judge from there whether I am suitable for this course or not. I still haven’t implemented or resolved fully some of the issues that are holding me back from being an ‘effective learner’ and is therefore unwise to decide that I am not suitable for the course.In conclusion, I have faced many problems as a new student in the University of Bradford, many of which are due to myself and my lack of time management or motivation. However, I am aware of my weaknesses and I am slowly resolving these issues to becoming a more effective learner.
Whilst the progress is in small steps, it is still progress nonetheless, and as I am still quite early in my university life, I should have more than enough time to improve myself for the future.