Surviving University, Volume 1: University classes.
University is, for many, the best period of a lifetime. It will prepare you for adulthood and equip you with the knowledge and memories that are worth having. But it is also a very challenging period. There are a series of quests and tasks that you will have to get good at, and we are going to address those here. For you, here it is: Surviving uni, volume 1.
Yes, you went through school and high school. You might think that you know all there is to know and that you will have no problems doing your degree or masters. But be aware, university lessons are different from the ones you had before.
Teachers are definitely more knowledgeable in uni. If you have a genuine interest in the subject and want to present your questions, you will get a lot of information, and probably some recommendations as what to read to expand on the topic. As my tutor used to say: do not trust a teacher that does not own a lot of books. However, uni teachers are also very busy people that sometimes stick to a very “bureaucratic” behavior. Make sure you show interest in the subject if you want to gain their favor.
There is one very positive aspect related to university subjects: you have chosen a branch of education that you like, so you will not have to study subjects that you do not like. True? Not completely. In fact, I have not found a single university student that liked every single subject they were studying. The trick is to try to relate every subject to something you love. Think of the football fan that studies the physics of footballs, the history of sports and so on.
The lessons themselves are different from what you know. University lessons are called “lectures” or “masterclasses”, and it is so because uni teachers have a certain level of freedom of what and how they can teach. Most probably, they will not be following a guidebook, but instead be reciting their own content, that they have refined with time. They might also provide you with a paper copy of it, or show a powerpoint presentation of it. But the most impressive fact is that university classes can contain up to two hundred students. So be prepared to take notes surrounded by many other people.
Provided what we just explained, you have to refine your technique. Some people will just copy every single word the teacher says (no surprises if you suddenly read “hey you! Wake up!” in between the notes). This becomes an automatic task. Others just take pictures of the powerpoint notes or ask their colleagues for their copy of the content. My preferred method was making schemes and simple notes of the content. Therefore, I made sure I was followed by the content and could later ask for the full pages to my colleagues. That was one of my keys to surviving Uni.
-Where to sit-
Normally, in amongst a university class, there are three groups of students: the first row, the average crowd and the last “rebels”. You should decide wisely on where to sit down, for it is not usual to change places, and you will soon realize that the teacher´s perception of your interest is also based on this. I remember a friend that had severe problems with staying awake in class, and he decided to sit on the first row. He was so nervous about the teacher that he would no longer fall asleep.
-Attending or not-
Attending uni classes or not is a whole topic of discussion by itself. Many students argue that you can totally pass your exams without attending, while some teachers make attendance compulsory and will fail anyone that did not take interest in the lectures. The fact is that attending can get tedious, but it is a great way to complement your studying routine: by attending regularly and making an effort in understanding the content, it is easier to remember the content later. Also, building up that resilience is important to be prepared for the future job market.
In the end, you will be strong and find a way to overcome university classes. Surviving Uni is possible!
But hopefully, now you know what to expect! If you feel you are ready for the challenge, check our recommended Online Open Days to Study Abroad!