University Tips Blog
Image of a seminar style university classroom
A headshot image of the author, Marie Clifford

by Marie Clifford

Head of Learning, Teaching and Student Experience at the University of South Wales

posted on 22 May '23

A guide to how students can make the most of university – an academic perspective

Students turn up to lectures or seminars, do some extra reading, submit their assessments, pass them with flying colours and get their degree. There might also be some socialising thrown in too.

That is one way of viewing university, but by preparing your students for what to expect and what they need to put in to get the most out of it, it can become more than a transactional arrangement with some cheap drinks on the side.

Relationships are key

Encourage students to get to know lecturers, their peer group and other key players (the person who makes the coffee each morning is REALLY important).

The vast majority of lecturers welcome contact from students, want to hear their thoughts and be asked for clarification. This provides great support for students both academically and socially.

Peer group support is invaluable; someone to vent with over a coffee or ask questions over WhatsApp, all provide guidance and that key human contact we all need. With more hybrid, remote methods of learning being used, attendance for on campus sessions really helps when building these relationships.

Image of a lecturer with students in a seminar

Students should engage fully

There is no point turning up if the student is not actually ‘present.’ Paying attention to what is going on during on-campus and online sessions is crucial. Students should take notes to ensure active learning is taking place, limit distractions (there are apps to disable social media, for example, during teaching time). They should also expand learning outside of the formally arranged sessions by reading around the subject, finding links across subjects and where applicable, into day-to-day life.

Take charge of their own learning

One of the key aspects of higher education study is becoming an independent thinker and an autonomous learner. There are huge advantages to this in that students have more choice and options than they may have experienced from compulsory education. But with great power comes great responsibility... attendance may not be monitored as closely, and additional reading and research will need to be done outside of the classroom.

Organisation and time management are skills that will need to be honed and students need to take charge of any feedback received. How can they improve? Are there common areas they are falling down on? How could this help them with future assessments in that subject, but also in different subjects?

Plan ahead

It is never too early to think about careers. What experience do they already have? How can they get more? All universities have a careers service that will be able to find volunteering and paid positions that can broaden any CV when it is time to think about the graduate job market.

University is not all about study either, so factoring in socialising, hobbies and me time is essential to allow students time to recharge and gain valuable transferable skills. By embracing all university can bring, students will have a successful, enjoyable and unforgettable experience.

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