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Articles > Student Life November, 02, 2021

Struggles with university life: My experience

Martin Zapryanov
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A lot of people say that time spent at university will be the best and most enjoyable years of your life. I started recently and so far I have been feeling the complete opposite.

I am currently a 1st year student at King’s College London, studying mathematics, and your experiences may be very different, so don’t completely take everything I say here to be true.

Feeling overwhelmed with work, falling behind easily and wanting to drop out of university after only the 2nd week! I wanted to write this article to give sixth form students as to what it really is like to be at university, because school does not prepare you for what you are about to sign yourself up for.

“The jump from GCSEs to A-Levels is harder than the jump from A-Levels to University” … “University is easy, A-Levels is the hardest part of your education”

You’ve probably heard these phrases. Well I can unfortunately reveal that these 2 statements are completely false for me!
Even before I had officially started university, it was an extremely daunting place for me. I was instantly showered with work to complete in preparation, which was difficult to adjust to. Usually, I would be practising questions for maths, but now I would be doing more note taking from lectures than actual practise. Madness, right? We would be given many pre-recorded lectures to complete before our lesson, where the lecturer would go over a few examples, and if you manage to take down the notes, you do, but if you don’t, then you won’t have any notes to refer back on as the lesson is not recorded. So you really have to be on top of your game for the lessons. This is of course different for every university, but that’s my experience so far.

Furthermore, if you do not do the work, nobody checks up on you. If you don’t ask for help, nobody will help you. This is what gave me an initial shock, because I was struggling and I didn’t know where to get help from. You have to be independent and find it yourself. But once I did find it, I was reassured and got the help that I needed.

And current University students are probably wondering, why not join some societies? Well to be quite honest, for anyone who isn’t planning to be living in accommodation at university, then I am afraid that societies will most likely be at times you are not at university, therefore much harder to attend. I cannot attend any because travel would be far too expensive to do
so. Furthermore, with the amount of work received each week, I really don’t have the time to be joining societies. Nothing is impossible and many others have been able to balance their time and join a few societies, but it doesn’t work with my schedule.

Furthermore, I wanted to warn sixth form students about the initial shock of university. Do not assume that University is a walk in the park, it’s harder than A-Levels, at least in my experience. It is a shame that my schools did not prepare me for this… hopefully by reading this article, you can at least get a sense that university is not really what you expect it to be, or at least not what you’re told! Everyone is going to have a unique university experience, and some will not be at all like mine. I hope that for people having an experience similar to myself, that this article makes you feel heard!

Even if university does get as tough as I have mentioned above, remember that you are not alone. So many people will be experiencing similar problems to you. Speak to fellow university students, contact your lecturers regularly, ask for help. And most importantly, do not stress, everything will be alright. So enjoy it even during the lowest of the lows, because there will be the highest of highs too! I’m sure of it 🙂

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  1. Lizzie

    Students don’t have enough time for money to have a social life or time to relax and focus on them selfs with all the worry’s and stress they face daily .

  2. Leanne

    I think you should see about transferring elsewhere whilst you’re still early in the degree. Every uni is going to be different and it’s a shame you’re having such a bad time of things. I’ve just started at the university of Sunderland a few month back and it’s been the opposite story over here.
    The help and support we get is over and above what I’ve experienced anywhere else. Even our induction was so comprehensive that it included more than I could imagine, how to use the systems, how to access support, every type of help you could possibly need and how to get that help. Along with academic rules etc. I’m a disabled student and have had support from the well-being team and mental health team here, I also found the out of hours crisis line ran by the university to be a life saver, they picked up the pieces when NHS crisis team turned me away.
    There’s so much to do here too, for example I particularly have enjoyed networking events and meeting people from various businesses.

    I feel bad that your experience has been so different to this but whilst you’re still in first year could you look into transferring to a different university where there is more support? There are more supportive atmospheres than what you describe and if you’re going to be there for three years then you deserve to be in the best environment, I mean you’re paying 9k per year to be treated a bit better than this.