Coping with the transition back to university

Whether you have just completed first year and are heading into second year or a third year beginning their masters, the transition back to full-time education after a long summer can be difficult to navigate. With this in mind here are a few ideas to make getting back into the swing of things a little bit easier.

Look into your modules

A new year means new knowledge and of course new modules. If you are going into second or third year you would have already made your module choices, however, it is always beneficial to get a bit of head start and perhaps look a bit deeper into what it is you will be studying, you might also like to expand this by finding some general reading closely related to the topic just to gently ease yourself back into academic reading. Of course not all courses involve extensive reading and in these cases it will still help to give yourself a baseline to start the year rather than going in completely blind. This may help ease common anxieties which come with starting the academic year again, for example, the fear that you have forgotten everything from the previous year, in most cases this is not true, and when you finally come to getting back into the university routine your “forgotten” knowledge returns back to you. You could also reach out to the module leaders and ask them to give you a basic synopsis of what they intend to teach, often they may point you towards useful resources such as papers or websites. Ultimately, taking steps to make things clearer goes a long way when trying to prepare yourself for a switch back to university life.

A row of books in a library with someone picking a book from the shelf.

Brushing up

With the long summer off it may feel as though you have forgotten all of your prior knowledge from the previous year. Revisiting subjects where you feel you may have forgotten may help to retrieve what you have learnt. When we attempt to retrieve something from our long-term memories, often a cue helps to simulate remembering and brings the stored memory back into our conscious minds. So when you return back to a piece of information you have previously learnt, this acts as a cue stimulating our memories. With the theme of transitioning back to uni, it may be helpful if you try and go over and reinforce key topics from the year before in order to better equip you for your upcoming modules and assignments. It is also important to note that often making sure of a sound understanding of the foundation of a topic is key to progressing further within the topic and expanding that knowledge. This can be as simple as doing a piece of your own research on a topic from a previous year which you have chosen to continue into second year, it does not have to be something tedious and long! This can be flexible and an ongoing thing you do from time to time throughout the year when you may have forgotten something which may help your current topic of study.

A person looking at an Ipad with the human body in detail.

Goal setting

Motivation can often be a difficult thing when the prospect of returning to uni looms nearer, however, setting yourself sensible goals for the year can help. These goals can be as simple as wanting to get better at a certain part of your course you may have struggled with in the past, or aiming for a particular grade bracket for your assessments. They can ultimately be as stringent or relaxed as you want, the important part is giving yourself something to work towards, and even if you don’t achieve exactly what you set out to achieve it doesn’t matter. The most important part is to motivate yourself to work to a standard you feel suits you, and this can be flexible depending on what you feel at any given time. It is easy to be afraid of transitioning to something new, but hopefully by embracing it with clear goals in mind is a step you can take to ease this process.

Any student knows the feeling when summer ends and education returns, however, at university there are so many directions you can take to make the transitioning period more manageable and less stressful! Hopefully, these ideas are applicable and helpful to anybody who may be struggling.

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