Is University Hard?


This might be a question you are asking yourself when deciding if university is the right option for you. The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no, but by the end of this blog post hopefully you will understand more about what is involved in studying a higher education course and everything along with it!

Studying at university is different to studying at your 6th form or college. It is the next step in your educational career and requires studying at a higher level, as well as more responsibility for your own learning. It can also be really exciting, as you will be able to dedicate your time to your chosen subject of interest. You may also be living away from home, which brings along a new set of challenges but also opportunities to meet friends and have new experiences.

The most important thing to remember is that there is so much support available at university. If you have a problem, big or small, make sure to reach out and speak to the support services available to help you with your transition to university life. Find details of the support services on your university website. You can contact the university before you start if you have any specific needs or concerns.

Whilst studying at university, you will need to be prepared to be an independent learner. Learning independently doesn’t mean studying alone or avoiding asking for help and support -think of it more as an opportunity to be curious and learn beyond what is covered in lectures and seminars.

What are lectures and seminars?

A lecture usually involves a large group of students listening and taking notes on a presentation by their lecturer. A seminar allows opportunities to discuss a topic covered in a lecture further in small groups and is much more interactive than lectures.

Your time spent in lectures or seminars can be much less than you are used to in education so far. With fewer contact hours, it will be your responsibility to organise your time to stay on top of your studies. The number of contact hours you will have depends on which course you choose; however, all courses will include an element of independent study. For subjects such as Medicine, Dentistry and Science you may have more contact hours than other courses such as English, History and other humanities subjects.

Learning independently might sound daunting at first, however it allows you to be flexible in how and when you study. It might take some time to find out the best way of learning for you, but some of the following questions might help you get started.

What time of day do I work best?

Try out different times of the day for work. If you know you struggle to focus early in the morning, don’t plan all of your study for that time!

Do I work better alone or in groups?

Independent learning away from the lecture time does have a space for group work and study. However, if you know you will struggle to focus during group study, be sure to plan time alone to give yourself the opportunity to complete your work.

What environment do I work best in?

Something as simple as having a set place to study can help you get in the right frame of mind to begin with. Maybe you choose to study at the library away from distractions? Or perhaps you work better at a desk in your room? Experiment with what works for you. Don’t forget to make use of non – traditional methods of study,  such as listening to a podcast whilst taking a walk – it all counts!

Do I need help?

Part of being an independent learner is recognising when you need help and support and taking the initiative to organise this for yourself. There are many support services at university. Make sure to reach out and ask for help if you need it.

To go back to the original question, yes there are elements of university which might be challenging, but do not be put off by this. It all depends on the course you choose. There is a huge variety of academic and vocational options available so be sure to do your research and find something that excites you. If you find that university isn’t right for you, there are other ways to obtain a degree for example a degree apprenticeship.

You may find this video detailing student experiences useful in your research about universities.