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Preconceptions and myths about university

In this video, students talk about some of their preconceptions before they started university, and how they were proved wrong.
One of the biggest preconceptions I had about university was that it was going to be full of highly privileged, confident people and I wasn’t going to be able to fit in and make friends as easily as they were. The biggest mistake that I made in terms of that, though, is that, yes, even if people have different life experiences, doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be able to get on. And, yes, there were people from a whole wide range of life experience that I hadn’t even expected. And, believe it or not, that wasn’t perhaps the thing that stopped us becoming friends or allowed us to become friends.
And I’ve left university with a fantastic range of very, very close and lifelong friends. Most of my friends had older siblings already at university, whereas I was the first to go. So my biggest worry was that everyone would know what they were doing and would have better expectations of what was going to happen. I generally just thought that everyone else at university knew exactly what was going to happen and that’s not true. It’s completely new to everyone. Everyone’s nervous, and everyone’s in the same boat, and that makes it really easy to talk to people. My first and biggest preconception was that the jump up from sixth form or college to university was going to be substantial.
However, I actually found this jump not to be that big. I found that content-wise a lot of the things that we were covering were things that I previously had covered at A-level. And if it was a complete new topic, they would introduce us in a simple and clear way so there was nothing to worry about. The main preconception I had when I arrived– before I arrived really was that it would be harder for me to fit in because I was a bit older than everybody else. I thought it would be difficult to make friends because I was 25 and everybody else was 18. But, in reality, that was quite far from the truth.
What actually happened was that everyone is in the same boat when they arrived and everyone just kind of wants to make new friends and get to know people. And whatever differences people might have– be it age, or differences in background, and things like that– really don’t factor in as much as you would expect– in fact, not at all in my experience.

In the video, some of our current undergraduate students share their experiences of the questions and preconceptions they had prior to coming to study at York, and how these changed once they arrived and settled in here.

We’re not saying your preconceptions will necessarily be wrong and you may know a thing or two about university already; perhaps you have friends or relatives that have been, but it’s also possible that you don’t have a clear idea about what it’s like.

So let’s start by looking at some of the common preconceptions and myths that some people have about university – but before we do, the most important thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat as you right now. Whatever your thoughts, questions or concerns are about university, there will be someone else wondering exactly the same thing. There is no such thing as a silly question or unwarranted worry here.

Take a look for yourself

If you are worried that you don’t know what to expect from university and are not sure how to prepare for starting the new academic year, this course will help.

There is also plenty of information and guidance out there. You may already be familiar with the UCAS website after having used it throughout your application journey but you may not know that it has a whole host of useful content to help prepare you for university, including student blogs, hints and tips from students who have been in your position very recently. You can find out more by visiting the UCAS student life webpage.

Here at York, we have plenty of information for prospective students to help answer any questions you might have – to find out more have a look at York’s student life webpages where you can explore many different aspects of campus and city living, and even chat to current students who are on hand to answer any questions you may have.

You might like to watch this “day in the life” vlog from a current first student, Faye:

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Is there anything from the videos in this step that particularly resonates with your thinking? Feel free to share in the Comments.

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