The Adjustments Students Need to Make When Starting a University

The Adjustments Students Need to Make When Starting a University

Students need to make a number of adjustments when starting university. Critically discuss some of these adjustments, in terms of skills brought with them, and new skills that must be developed.

Over the years, the idea of going to university and just learning, and that it was just a few more years of education, has been slowly phased out. Today’s idea of further study at university brings with it a whole different outlook, to that of a decade ago. I wish to discuss the changes and adjustments that students have made while attending university in today’s age.

One of the adjustments to study that has identified (Krause, 2005) is that of age, which focuses more on the mature age student. These students have to relearn studying skills, as well as to develop new skills to fit today’s university campus life. Mature age students also bring with them a style of thinking and work ethic that eludes younger minds, due to the lack of life experience. What is also identified is that mature age students are strongly focused on their objectives; they have a clear set of goals, they also tend to be strategic students and express fewer concerns about being motivated to study. Other students could benefit from studying with mature students, although mature students do tend to work independently.

Krause also maintains that the 21st century student brings a clearer understanding about why they are at university. They want a more portable degree that will prepare them for multiple career paths. Students also have a greater need to adjust, and sometimes rapidly, with new technology and forms of delivery of study content. There is also a seemingly greater demand on both the mental and physical well being of all students.

(Vivekananda, Shores. 1996) Whether you are coming straight from school or returning to study after a long absence, it is difficult to know how hard you have to work to achieve a passing grade. There is a saying: “Creativity is 99 per cent perspiration and 1 per cent inspiration.” This seems to ring true for university studies and campus life. I have always believed that no matter how smart or creative you are, if you cannot back it up with hard work, then it is all for nothing. What has also been identified, by talking with various students, is that if you cannot develop good time management skills, be able to develop networks and use the available resources, and make the most out of every opportunity, a student may struggle to adjust to university life. There is also mention that younger students need to adjust from moving away from home, becoming an independent person, surviving financially. They also need to develop negotiating skills, making new friends, and developing and/or adjust culturally. As one can imagine these present some real concerns for any student, of any age or background. But students bring with them sets of skills, that by themselves may take them forward slowly; but when combined with a student with a different set of skills they both go forward successfully.

Another major adjustment that all students need to come to grips with is that of the World Wide Web. A rapidly expanding system of networks, known as the internet, links millions of people in new spaces that are changing the way we think, the nature of our sexuality, the form of our communities, and our very identities. (Turkle. 1995)

Computers, and the internet makes studying, entertainment, and communication so much more accessible in today’s age. Of course with the good comes the bad, technology is forever changing and students must adjust and develop new skills to adapt to the new technology. The internet, being as wide as it is brings with it a problem of finding what information you need. Students need to develop researching skills to know what they are looking for, and to find it quickly and accurately. These skills constantly need to be adjusted and redeveloped due the rapid rate at which technology, software and hardware, and the ever changing face of the internet keep updating and changing. Students today, no matter their age, background, or gender, are forced to change with the times to stay current and successful at university.

One the things that I have noticed through my one eyes, with people I know that are going to university, is that most students have a terrible knowledge or understanding of English and grammar, and also correct spelling of words. I personally have spoken to current South Australian university students and there seems to be a gap between the different education backgrounds that the students come from. What I see is another continuing trend between private schooling and public schooling. Students that come from a private background seem to have more of an understanding of grammar and English, and correct spelling. Whereas students that come from public schools have a lesser understanding and grasp.

Of course not all schools are like this from both sectors, this is more of general look across the range; and I must stress that it is from my own personal opinion from what I can see, hear, and read. If this trend is correct, and I am by no means an expert, but does this trend ring true throughout the country? If so this is another adjustment and a major on at that, for all university students. It will mean that on top of the studies the students will also need to develop their spelling, grammar, and understanding of English. This is obviously more evident with the international students who do not speak English as their first language, and have to adapt through translation. But the English speaking students who struggle, have to develop, learn new skills, and in some cases completely relearn already established skills. The more I read, the more I listen, and watch I start to see that a high percentage of adjustments and developments that are need in university can and should be made? in the last few years of secondary school. I can see where once a student begins their university studies they should start to develop the skills needed to be successful; but wouldn’t it be more advisable that students already have the appropriate skills developed no matter their age, gender, educational or cultural background? I will be the first to say that I am one of the students who is relearning his skills, and it is a struggle I will admit; I would have benefited from more appropriate learning rather than having to develop the skills as I go with my studies. But I am one voice, lost in the continuous and growing chatter of students who have not only need to develop, but sadly are left with no choice but to develop during university life.

No matter how much we discuss the adjustments, and developments, and skills brought to university by students, one thing will always stay the same; and that is change. We are always learning in life and studies, so we will always change to adjust, develop, and bring new skills to stay with changing times. The best a student can do is embrace, and enjoy the chance to develop, and adjust to new skills.

Of course students are not the only ones who need to adjust, and develop; teachers, tutors, and lecturers also need to change and develop along with their students. Isn’t it an entertaining thought that both student and teacher learnt and taught each other? Education in itself would be the winner!

Krause, Kerri-Lee. 2005. The changing face of the first year: Challenges for policy and practice in research led universities. First year experience workshop. Brisbane: University of Queensland.

Vivekananda, Kitty, and Penny Shores. 1996. Uni is easier when you know how: Success stories, study secrets, strategies. Sydney: Hale & Iremonger.

Turkle, Sherry. 1995. Life on the screen: Identity in the age of the internet. New York: Simon & Schuster.