Although studying at university was challenging and could be downright stressful at times, I had a positive experience as a direct entry student. I studied a HND in Social Sciences at college, allowing me to directly enter second year of university to study Psychology.
Being somewhat of an introvert, I found it comforting to start university with friends that I gained from college. Although it was very daunting to start university a year after most of my new classmates, it felt reassuring that I had people around me that were experiencing the same thing. I felt less alone. I personally didn’t feel the need to make new friends as I felt comfortable being around the people I knew from college. However, looking back on my experience, I do wish I did try make more of an effort to meet new people. I would shy away from joining societies and I, personally, think these are a great way of meeting new people and discovering more about yourself and your interests.
When I began university, I felt like I didn’t belong there. I didn’t think I was clever enough, and this really came down to my own insecurities. As much as I do feel that college had prepared me for how to research and write academic pieces of work, the standard of work was much harder in university compared to college. The lecturers don’t offer you as much guidance compared to the college lecturers, and there is more of an expectation to work out how to do things ourselves. Also, there was a lot of statistics in Psychology which was something that was not covered in a lot of depth at college - this was something that I really struggled with.
It is very common to take a while to adjust and feel like you belong. It is important that you know
that you are not alone – in fact, there are hundreds of students who join university through
advanced entry every year! Most importantly, there is lots of support available to you. You can
explore the ‘links’ section of the advanced entry toolkit to explore support available to you
Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to go for support. A great place to go for individual support is your personal tutor. Here is more information about the personal tutoring system.
The Student Learning Service (SLS) run workshops to help boost your confidence in a variety of skills that is useful for different subjects. One of the skills they support is maths! More information can be found here.
The first year and half of university was extremely challenging for me. My mental health was not in the best place, and I found it incredibly difficult to motivate myself to write essays. I mostly received low grades in second year and the start of third year. I would get extremely overwhelmed and stressed, particularly during exam time. It turned out I had dyslexia and dysgraphia which is something that the university recommended for me to get tested for.
The support for learning team at the university is amazing and they really helped me to grow my confidence. Although they may come across as intimating at times, your lecturers want you to do well and most will be more than happy to answer your questions via email or even meet with you for a chat.
I also found the Counselling service at university to be beneficial. As I would often feel extremely low and anxious during exam time, I found it helpful to have someone to talk to that really listened and let me offload on everything that was going on for me. If anytime you’re struggling at university, don’t hesitate to book an appointment at the counselling service. The Aberdeen Nightline is also available during the night which is a student-run organisation where you can call or instant message one of the volunteers to gain support if you’re struggling and need someone to talk to. Remember your mental health is extremely important.
I would also recommend gaining as much work experience as you can whilst you are studying. At least in my case, my degree didn’t offer any placements and in order to gain the career I wanted afterwards. Therefore, I needed to study further which required some work experience. As it can be really challenging to work whilst studying a degree, I would recommend that jobs that offer part-time or relief contracts. I worked relief hours in a nursery, and later in a mental health charity which was great as I could chose my own hours to fit around university, and could work less when there was an assignment or exam coming up. Volunteering is also great way to gain experience and most organisations only require you to volunteer a couple of hours a week or month. The University also offer internships in your field (some which are paid), so keep a look out!
I graduated from my degree in 2020, also known as the covid year. Although I had few hiccups during my first year and half at University, I did manage to improve my grades and finished with a 2:1. I am currently back at university studying for a post-graduate diploma in Person-centred counselling. I also work as a support worker at VSA with children and young people with additional support needs.