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Written by Louis Marinho Fernandes, MSci Physics 

Being an adult comes with freedom and responsibility. In high school, most people are closely supervised by teachers who monitor your work, assess you on a regular basis, and might even punish you if your work ethics don’t live up to their expectations. University is a vastly different experience. The autonomy enjoyed here is on a completely different level, and getting used to it often requires us to change our work habits. Sounds a bit daunting, but you’ll soon become a master of organization and time management! 

Working in a group 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! A lot of my coursemates were always eager to work in groups, and this is a great opportunity to learn in an exciting and enjoyable way, by sharing what you’ve understood and being taught by others. Most courses have a Facebook or WhatsApp group chat to make connections between students easier, but while it’s convenient when you want to ask a specific question, it’s often more efficient to meet some people in person and start working together around the same table. Please remember the UK’s social distancing guidelines if you plan to do this. Instead of the Student Centre, why not try meeting out in Gordon’s Square? 

Respecting deadlines 

Some assignments will have to be done on your own and handed back within a deadline. Respecting deadlines is very important and calls for good organization skills. I’d advise you to create a weekly timetable to help you make the most out of your available time and be more efficient - you’ll avoid a lot of stress, and a few all-nighters in front of your computer… Remember: while it’s tempting to leave everything to the last minute, it’s rarely an efficient strategy, and you’d be better off planning ahead! 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when several deadlines are approaching. If it happens to you, don’t panic: just try to work out which ones are your priority depending on the exact due date, and start planning ahead as soon as possible. Procrastination is a fairly common problem among students, but it’s not your best ally! 

Acing exams 

At UCL, the most important exams are taken in May, just before the start of summer holidays. You’ll have to remember lessons taken months and months ago and revise all your modules! It’s very important to work seriously all year long, as trying to cram all your revisions in a month is unlikely to result in good grades… I really can’t stress enough the importance of regular work: you’ll approach exam season with less stress and way more confidence! 

When Term 3 starts, it’s time to begin revising specifically for your final exams. Again, planning ahead is key. Try to understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie, be sure to know your exam schedule and plan accordingly. Keep in mind group revisions are often a good idea! 

Final words 

UCL is a fantastic place to learn, meet people and experience a new way of life. Try to see the whole adapting process as a good opportunity to gain maturity, but don’t forget to have fun during your first year as well!