Starting University: common worries

I can’t ask that question – my tutor will think I’m stupid

Then ask me! I may regret this 🙂 but in an effort to find out how to help you all better I’m going to answer the top 5 ‘daft’ questions I receive by Monday 6th November (2017!). You can post on my Facebook page (please note others will see your Facebook account name) or send your question via the Contact page on my English Lecturer website (this will be anonymous).

Please note: I can only answer general study questions eg re plagiarism, how to approach essays, how to understand your lecturer’s feedback or the University system. These need to be general questions in order to benefit a wide range of people.

As far as asking questions in seminars is concerned, the more ‘stupid’ you think your question is, the more useful your student colleagues will probably find it! If you really feel daft then ask your tutor on your own but it’s better to ask (even if you preface it with a ‘may I ask a daft question?’) than not to ask and to struggle because of it – that really is daft, even if it is entirely understandable.

Everyone else is smarter than me

No, they’re not. At least, it’s highly unlikely! Even if they are it doesn’t matter because University results are determined by your achievements alone. There is no quota for certain degree levels eg if everyone deserves a first then everyone will get one. Lecturers mark according to academic criteria, not statistics. It’s not the case that only 15% of students will get a 2:1, for example: everyone whose work meets the criteria for a 2:1 will get one.

I’m the only one who doesn’t understand this

Again, this is highly unlikely but you are only responsible for your own learning – other people’s abilities are irrelevant to your progress. You will find that different people find different things difficult and will learn at different speeds.
Just because you find something difficult doesn’t mean that something’s wrong. You are supposed to be learning and just as getting fit requires exercise, which is hard work, academic progress also requires work. Students are often somewhat resistant to anything ‘hard’ but I’m afraid it’s like exercise and vegetables – it’s good for you!

I don’t belong here

Only you can decide this. University isn’t for everyone but many students who feel lost and alien to begin with get used to University, get good degrees and even manage to enjoy their time at University.

I’ll be bullied by other students if they think I’m stupid or if I do well

One of the great things about university is that bullying of the kind so depressingly common in schools is rare. You certainly won’t find gangs of students loitering in toilets waiting to flush your head down one!

Many students have told me over the years what a relief it was to leave the school environment and be in a ‘more grown-up’ environment with no bullies (even if that doesn’t mean no bitchiness!)

If you ask fellow students how they’re finding the course, what they think of university etc you’ll probably find that you have quite a lot in common. You’re studying the same course so that helps!

Please remember: you have passed a selection process to get into university so you have all achieved something. Now you face a new set of challenges but the fact that you got into university indicates that you have what it takes. You just need to give it time and work at it. Good luck 🙂