Wanting to go to university is one thing, but how do you know if you are ready for university? When exploring this question, there are a few key topics we need to consider. We can divide the key factors required for university into the following categories; study skills, life skills and motivation. If you have enough of all three of these then chances are, you are ready to take your next steps into university life.
These are the skills required for the academic element of university life. Attending lectures is one thing but actually being able to take information in effectively and learn from your lecturers is really important to being successful on your course. Study skills are considered a critical element for learning, no matter what level of study you are completing. Here are some examples of study skills;
This is the ability to take effective notes during your lectures and seminars, there are a range of different techniques and methods you can use for this including cornell notes, boxing method or charting method.
The methodology that works best for you will depend on your learning style and how your brain takes in information. It is highly likely that your college or sixth form will teach you a particular method during your A Level studies, which is great! However, it may not work for you or you may want to explore other options to effectively take notes during your university study.
A bibliography is a list of all the sources you have used in a piece of text, usually an essay. A bibliography is also known as a reference list. The purpose of a bibliography is so that you do not have to write the source after each fact or statement that you have taken from another piece of research. Instead, you simply put a small asterisk, number or letter next to the statement that refers to the bibliography.
Your list should always include the author of the original research, the date of publication and a link to the original piece of text if appropriate/available. An annotated bibliography is when you include this information in addition to a short summary of the quality and usefulness of the source.
Proofing and editing
This is the process of checking your work for errors, this can be within the content, spelling errors and grammatical errors. There is definitely a skill to being able to proof work, infact, there are people who work as full time proofreaders!
A really helpful tool for this process is called Grammarly which is a chrome extension that checks your work for you as you are writing it. It’s more powerful than a spell checker as it also provides you with grammatical suggestions.
Academic essay writing
If you have taken an essay based subject at A Level, this includes English, a humanities course or a social science subject, then it is likely you will have already developed strong academic essay writing skills.
Essay writing is the ability to structure your work in a way that the reader can understand, discusses two sides of an argument (where appropriate) and demonstrates that you have analysed and interpreted the initial topic.
Being able to think creatively is key for far more than “just” creative courses at university. Creative thinking is the ability to think in a new way to find a solution to a problem.
It is something we do in everyday life and if a skill employers definitely want to be able to evidence when taking on new staff. The opportunity to develop this skill is great for your academic success, but also your career as a whole.
Self management - including time management
Self management includes a wide range of skills, such as time management, priorisation, emotional management and critical thinking. Having strong self management skills allows you to be able to take ownership, learn from your mistakes and prepare for the future.
Based on the fact you are applying to university, we are presuming that you are 18+ and therefore, should be beginning to develop your independence skills whether you are looking to go to university or not. Being independent means being able to do things without instruction from others. This includes domestic tasks, academic study and responsibility for day to day tasks.
Similarly to independence, this is a skill required no matter what destination you are progressing on to at the end of Year 13. It is just as important for employment or an apprenticeship as it is for university. You can read more about the skills employers are looking for here.
Being organised means that you are able to manage your focus across different tasks, and use your time, energy, strength, mental capacity, physical space, etc. effectively and efficiently in order to achieve your desired outcome.
Being able to successfully communicate with your peers, lecturers and other staff around university requires you to be able to read social situations and amend your communication accordingly to meet the situation.
For example, the way you word a sentence to your friends is likely to be different to how you would say it within a lecture. Another type of communication is written which includes sending letters or emails, similarly to verbal communication, this requires you to think about how formal your tone needs to be when writing.
Staying positive when things aren’t easy is something that we often take for granted, this is called resilience and is a key skill throughout life. I am sure we can all think of a time where we have seen someone show resilience - when everything around them seems to be going wrong yet they are still able to stay strong and persevere through the situation. Knowing that bad times don't last forever is an important factor to remain resilient.
It’s key to remember that everyone’s motivation for wanting to attend university will be different. Some people are there because it is the only way for them to get to their end destination - such as Doctors. They are passionate and committed to wanting to work within medicine, so this is a strong enough motivation factor for them.
Others are at university because they want to experience degree study, we are fortunate to have an education system in the UK that allows us all to study at Level 6 without requiring the funds upfront. Therefore, people may choose to go to university to learn more about a particular subject they enjoy.
Another motivating factor for attending university is creative growth, this can be within courses such as Art or Music but also STEM subjects such as Engineering. For students in this category, they are at university to grow their creative thinking abilities ready for their future career.
New opportunities such as networking and/or connections in a specific industry is another key reason people wish to attend university, especially for industries that are otherwise hard to access. Utilising the university connections allows you to excel your career and opportunities for success.
Lastly, students may attend university to access higher level job roles that are only available to those that have completed higher education. This is usually the case for management roles.
In conclusion, if you feel you have a strong base of the study skills and life skills required in addition to the motivation to work hard at university then there is no reason why you would not be ready for university study. The last thing for us to say is good luck!