student life

How to manage the transition between sixth form and university

Written by Courtney Evans


Starting your first year at university is an exciting time for many. Starting afresh with a new plan, chapter and experiences. For a few it can be a relatable experience with past friends and family who have tread the same path in years previous. Yet for others, it’s a blank sheet of paper which can often seem daunting. University can be bittersweet, bringing highs and lows for most students – from freshers and meeting new friends, to homesickness and stress of coping with deadlines.

Expect it to be different from school. Some students underestimate the amount of time and effort that is needed for their course. Some may not be used to the pressure and workload that comes with university life. The change from being a sixth form student to a university student is university gives each student a chance to see what real life is like, such as what a job is going to entail.


Clubs and societies will allow you to engage with more people who enjoy the same interest. Having a similar passion can help start a conversation with people. Universities have hundreds of clubs and societies, from a range of sports to reading meet-ups each week. This gives new and existing students chance to get involved with something they love!

One piece of advice is to make a schedule ASAP and stick to it. Having a plan and getting tasks completed on time can seem boring and as every other student, going out with your new friends does seem like a better time. Yet deadlines come around quick. You'll notice how much you were spoon-fed at sixth form/college, and how little you are at uni. You'll soon realise that it is truly down to you to get your work done, with no-one breathing down your neck about it. The extra time you spend going over work will also make it easier to understand future content and make you more confident in the module, and decreases the stress from leaving things to last minute.  


Expect to have nerves when dealing with new experiences and tasks. First year students in particular may feel more nervous with meeting new people, new classes, new lectures and new tasks within their course. Jumping from a small class at sixth form/college to a lecture hall with hundreds of other students can be a scary experience, but don't worry, everyone is finding their feet, even if some students do appear to look confident. The first few weeks of university is a hurdle to get used to, but nerves can be a good thing!

University is an experience: meeting new friends, living on your own for the first time, going out and partying almost every night. But  your first year is also a transition between being a teenager to becoming an adult, so from school to university, and is about learning the skills needed to get a career.