University versus school


Faculty: Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
School: School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Course: BA (Hons) English Language and Linguistics
Category: Language, literature and media

8 February 2021

University is very different to studying at school and it can be difficult for many people to adjust to the new learning environment (let alone whilst getting used to living away from home if you’ve never done it before).

The good news, however, is that university study is actually better, in my opinion at least, since it offers you much more freedom than school learning does. Here’s my top five ways university differs from school and why I think that makes it an exciting environment to learn in once you settle into it.

You’re living there

Granted, some of us are commuting in to our classes if we are lucky enough to live close (myself included!), but the majority of students will be living at university while studying there and, unless you’ve previously lived away for education, this will be a totally new experience.

It gives you the opportunity to spend time with friends outside of classes (well, before Covid-19 got in the way) but also gives you access to all the ARU resources that you might need, such as the library, right on your doorstep to access whenever you need. That’s pretty convenient.

Class times are different

Gone are the days when you’d sit in classes from 9am to 3pm every day now that you’re a university student.

Your timetable will be more varied, with lectures at set times that you know to attend, and this gives you plenty of spare time to do your own reading or studying but also to go out and have fun with clubs, societies and friends.

It also makes a nice change to be able to have a lie in some days if your classes don’t start until later!

You have much more academic freedom

One thing that I noticed pretty quickly is that there’s a lot more freedom for your own interpretations and ideas that may present different perspectives in your seminars than there often was at school.

At university, you’re encouraged to question theories and ideas and put your own spin on your work, instead of being spoon-fed information for exams, which I always found to be somewhat limiting.

You have much more literal freedom

Nobody is going to get you up and ready for your lectures in time apart from you (or maybe a very dedicated roommate!) so university is a great place for students to become more self-sufficient and responsible.

You have the responsibilities of managing your money, keeping your accommodation clean, looking after your belongings and getting to class on time… just to name a few! If you’re new to all of this, going to study at university will be a great opportunity to grow as a person.

You become self-motivated

A large part of university study is self-study in the form of reading, researching and making notes. While schools give homework to their students, university self-study is a lot of more pivotal to your actual understanding of the topic.

For each seminar, I have some reading to do, some tasks to complete and some notes to make from recorded lectures, so that I’m prepared to go into the seminar and confidently discuss my findings. The necessity to study outside of the lecture hall at university is a great way of teaching or enhancing self-motivation and certainly sets you up well for later life.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and I hope I have been able to shed some light on the differences between university and school, in my opinion, based on the experiences of myself and my friends at university.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.