What you actually learn at uni 1

For all of you trawling through university prospectuses at the moment, there’s always a course section showing you about the topics you’ll learn and what topics you can choose to take further.

However, the university is not all about learning specific information and specific skills, and there are tons of other things you’ll learn along the way. Here’s an alternative guide to all the other things you’ll learn at university whilst living away from home that you might never have thought about. 

From lectures, tutorials and all those other academic entities

How to question

At university, you’ll start to not take information at face value and instead question its validity, assumptions and biases. You’ll learn how to critically assess the information, read between the lines, and use it for your argument. You’ll also learn to research, investigate and find things out for yourself. 

How to think on your feet

Blagging your way through tutorials, especially in the first year when you are learning about lots of different and new subjects, is something you’ll be a master at by the end of your three years. You might find you’ve not had enough time to read all those papers for a tutorial, but you’ll soon learn how to get through. 

How to read and write

Skim reading long and often laborious books to find the information you are looking for is a brilliant skill you’ll pick up. You’ll also learn how to make sentences and the point you want to put across longer than it actually needs to be for that all-important 2,000 words count when you run out of things to say. University often uses academic papers to support lectures and having read thousands of these you’ll soon pick up how to write for a specific, often academic, audience.

What you are interested in

There are lots of different topics you’ll be given at uni, and you won’t enjoy learning about all of them. Some you’ll hate and some you’ll love. You’ll learn what you’d like to find out more about, and how to get through those tortuous revising sessions for a topic you couldn’t care less about.


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From the rest of university life

Planning your day

At university, you won’t have anyone to wake you up and get you out of bed. You’ll have to set your own alarm (perhaps put it on the other side of your bedroom?) and make sure you get an early night if you’ve something important the next morning. You’ll have to make sure you get to all your lectures and tutorials and any other meetings you might have with the right work done for the right time.


University might be the first opportunity you’ve really had to meet people from other walks of life and backgrounds. You’ll soon find this isn’t an issue, and it’s great to be able to talk to others and ask people questions about their culture. 

Life admin is hard

Alongside just living you have to decide what you are going to have for tea and get that supermarket shop in, that washing (both dishes and clothing!) has to be done otherwise it just piles up, and that you have to arrange to pay your bills. It will be the first time you have to call in the internet guy to set it up, and the first time you have to go flat hunting and realise it really isn’t as fun as you thought. On the plus side, you’ll learn to appreciate your parents and understand that they do more for you than you’d ever thought possible.


Moving to university will probably be the first chance you’ll have had to gain true independence and not tell someone where you are going when you leave the house. It also involves learning how to read bus timetables, and how to get on and off and pay for them. You’ll soon be an expert in cooking eggs and Bolognese and realise that metal isn’t the best thing for a microwave. 


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