Higher education at 18+

What to expect on a course

As there are over 37,000 courses available in Higher Education at more than 370 institutions, each course could be different! This is why your research is so important as you will want to apply for the courses that suit you.

You may have opted for a subject you are familiar with; or have chosen a completely new one. Whatever you have chosen, the way that you will be taught in HE is likely to be quite different from what you have experienced at school or college.

What can you expect on your course? 

You could have lectures, seminars, tutorials and practicals depending on which subject you opt for and at which university. Read this article from Which University to find out more and see a contact hours comparison tool.

It is worth knowing that some lectures are recorded and put on the university website so you can refer to them at a later stage – something else to ask about at Open Day!

The National Students Union has also written a useful article called 'Minding the gap between A-levels and degree, which you can read here.

Unistats has information on all undergraduate courses and gives you information on how the course is taught, how it is assessed (exams or coursework percentages) and whether the course attracts professional accreditation, which can be important in some careers.

The biggest difference - school & degree level

Perhaps the biggest difference between degree level study and school or college study is the expectation that you will need to take responsibility for your own studying and do more independent learning – probably much more reading and researching on your own than you did for your A Levels or BTEC qualifications.

If you do an Extended Qualification Project (EPQ) at school or college this will help you develop your skills as an independent learner (and you will also earn UCAS points).

There is plenty of student support available at university, but often you will need to ask for the help rather than wait for it to be offered to you.  You may have fewer essays, assignments or projects to work on that you are used to, but you will need to manage your time effectively – you can lose vital marks by handing a piece of work in late!

What can you do to prepare yourself?

Search your chosen university's website as they are often excellent sources of information and advice. Take a look at this article 'College to uni: seven key differences to look out for' written by Which? Universitywhich tells you what to expect in your Freshers Term. 

You could try a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).

These courses are free and often do not require any previous knowledge of the subject. Take a look at futurelearn or read this article to find out more.  Future learn is offering a free, online course called 'A beginner's guide to writing in English for university study'.MOOCs are run by universities across the world and give you a real opportunity to try out a new subject and gives you something to write about in your personal statement. Some courses are designed to help you to prepare for university study.

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Skills activities to help you develop or practice some of the skills needed for study at a higher education level.