Skip to Content


Smoothing the transition from college to university

During A-levels you were probably whining about tough exams and how you couldn’t wait to get to university to put an end of those sleepless nights and endless cramming. But starting university is just the beginning of a brand new student journey…

college banner

1. The lectures move quicker

In college, we got 7 hours of lectures per week while in university we have 6. It does not seem a lot of a difference, but lectures tend to be very fast-paced in university. Our professor typically covers one topic per hour or two hours. Compare this to college where we only learned one chapter per week.

2. Take responsibility for your own notes

In college, we didn’t have to take notes in class as the lecturer provided detailed lecture handouts so you got pretty much all the information you needed. All you needed to do was to listen attentively in class and perhaps underline some of the key points.

However, in university, it is a totally different story as you mostly won’t be given lecture handouts in class. ‘Lecture notes’ are mostly available in PowerPoint presentations but I wouldn’t regard them as decent notes that you can study from because some PowerPoint slides don’t even have much information on it! This is where you have to listen to the professor very carefully in class and jot down important points he or she has said.

There are professors that are kind enough to prepare handouts while uploading them online, but ultimately you need to use your own initiative to print them out and to fully utilise them.

3. Read around the topic

In college, we didn’t have to do any extra reading. It was a huge change coming into university as we are given a reading list every week for each module. For Law, for example, our readings consist of cases, academic commentary, statute, and sometimes parliamentary reports. Most of our readings are mandatory for our tutorial preparation. I learnt it the hard way that our readings are very lengthy but very important to increase the depth of our argument in essay writing. Please take my advice seriously, and do your reading, even though you might not feel like it.

4. Learn to work on your own initiative

I remember my lecturer in college insisted we submit at least one essay per week, which sometimes piled up to 3 or 4 essays which was a struggle.

At university, lecturers (or professors) never nag at you for not attending classes or tutorials. No one is going to look over your shoulder to check if you have done or submitted your assignment. However, that does not mean that it’s okay to not submit your assignment! In fact, percentage points will be deducted for late submission, and you will be awarded a mark of zero after not submitting it in 5 working days from the deadline. You need to work on your own initiative to get your assignment and reading done on time.

5. Exams are longer

A-Level exams, especially in Law are dreadful because we had to answer three essay or problem questions in an hour and a half – which means you only have 30 minutes for one question! You had to write pretty fast to get all the information covered!

At university, you’ll definitely have more time for your exam because you are given either 2 and a half hours or 3 hours for two or three questions, which means you will have an hour for each question. Sounds easier, right? Definitely not! Your answers will be longer in a university exam. In a problem question, for example, you will have more issues to identify and for an essay question you will have to be more in depth in your argument. I remember running out of time in my Criminal Law exam and I had to write my answers in bullet points in the end!

Jia Xin Chang

LLB Law| 2nd year |Malaysia

I’m a 20-year-old Law student from Malaysia with a weird accent. I’m occasionally talkative, however I’m a natural introvert. I’m a lone ranger who enjoys her solitude and calmness, but I’m not anti-social. I’m a music lover and I play the piano, and constantly regret not picking up a second instrument when I was younger. I love singing but I’m not vocally trained. I don’t listen to any other music except rock - the heavier the better! Sometimes called weird by my friends, but I prefer to think of myself as unique. I have had an immense passion for writing ever since I was very young, and I write in both English and Chinese. I was the editor of my school bulletin and a student journalist during my high school days. I’m now a casual blogger and I enjoy my job (despite suffering from writer's block all the time). Welcome to my space. ;

Jia Xin Chang


Photo: Jia Xin Chang
Jia Xin Chang
Guest Blogger