The Transition from Year 13 to University

Many of you now are probably in the position of thinking that university is a foreign concept, and how different it might be from school and college. But everyone is the same! I came from a close-knit sixth form where everybody knew each other by name, so I wondered how I would fit into the new scary lifestyle that is the step up into university life.

Firstly you can choose to live on campus in student flats or housing and therefore a huge part of the transition from Year 13 to university is sharing accommodation with others. I was in a flat of six in my accommodation, and for many people this is the time that you can really form close bonds with others. This is because in contrast to Year 13, you are not simply spending time with other students from nine to three then going home: everyone is all together in one flat 24/7. This meant I found it so much easier to socialise with people, forge firm friendships and have someone to support and help me, as they were right next door! This was especially useful when writing essays, as an extra pair of eyes can spot grammatical errors that wouldn’t have been picked up on my own, and people offering views on your essay ideas is a great way to perfect it.

Secondly, I found a greater independence is what makes the transition from Year 13 to university even more of a new experience. Going shopping on my own and doing my first load of washing were milestones, but something that was enjoyable as our flat always did it together. Another new challenge is cooking for yourself, and finding out flatmates have varied cooking abilities- a particularly memorable instance of mine being the very stereotypical perception that students don’t know how to boil an egg (which turned out to be true!). However, in true flatmate style we all experienced these things together even if at the end of the day pasta is the main meal of choice!

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The Societies Fayre in Welcome Week. Joining a society is a fantastic way to make friends.

This independence we have at university is reflected in our studies as we are encouraged to engage in independent study for essays and exams. The greater freedom in academic writing, especially for me as an English Literature student, has been much more beneficial. Instead of a heavily-structured approach to writing essays at A-Level, they become ours to create. We are given the freedom to express views in our own way in a unique style, as long as it forms a persuasive argument. This means the library should be put to good use as the choice of secondary sources, whether it is for criticisms of Tennyson or Brönte. The transition from Year 13 is made a lot easier, as external academic advisors such as Study Advice and The Royal Literary Fellows are available to help you academically and are invaluable for extra help concerning essays. The University is always on hand to offer one-to-one support if desired, but this time it is available from a variety of different people.

My final experience of being at the University of Reading that makes the transition from sixth form to further education complete is the fact there are many sports societies that suit different interests. This ranges from the outgoing Mountaineering society to the Polo society, and many more, illustrating how there is a whole variety of activities in contrast to those compulsory P.E. sessions held in secondary school. There are also many other non-sport societies including the Lock-Picking Society, Circus Arts Society, Beyoncé Society and of course the English Society. Societies are brilliant in developing confidence and fitness, not to mention social skills which I can guaranteed as societies here at Reading are renowned for their fun socials, yet another reason why this transition is one of the easiest you’ll make once here!

Sarah Penny

About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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