New to Sheffield banner image

New to Sheffield

Coming to university can be an overwhelming experience, especially academically. A campus that spans a city, nearly 30,000 students, academic reading, assignments with names you might not even have heard of… In the midst of all this it’s good to remind yourself that staff in your department and other services at the University are here to get you accustomed to this new stage in your life so that you can get the most out of your studies.

You’ll soon find that Uni learning will differ from what you’ve been familiar with so far. For starters, modules offer specific, highly-specialized insights into the broader area of your course. They’re taught intensively, and are led by academic staff who are the cutting edge of research within their (and your) discipline. Overwhelming might be an understatement.

The one tool you’ll need to find your way through the sometimes rocky academic terrain of university-level study is self-motivation. While staff are here to guide you, your course is designed to be a formative experience involving autonomy and self-awareness, which are among the Sheffield Graduate Attributes that you will develop throughout your academic experience.

This new learning environment might feel challenging. But remember that there is plenty of help, advice and support available if you need it, not least from your fellow students, who are often a great source of information for many aspects of University life. 301 is just one of the places around the University where you can find support for your learning. 

University-Level Learning

At the University of Sheffield the biggest differences from your experience of studying at school or college are that:

  • you will be learning with academic staff who are at the cutting edge of research in their (and your) subject
  • you will be expected to take control of your own learning from the very start of your studies.

In practice this means:

  • firstly, the research knowledge and expertise of your tutors will inform the content of your modules
  • secondly, your tutors will want you to develop your own independent learning skills quickly, as this will enable you to get the most out of your studies
  • thirdly, you might have more self directed study time than you are used to

For more information about making a successful transition to HE study, explore the tabs below:

Making the Transition to University

For many, being at university can be a period of great change and personal development. It may entail living away from home for the first time; experiencing a greater diversity of friends and social contacts than before; finding that your idea of who you are becomes fluid and unstable. Maybe even the subject that you’re studying will lead you to think differently about the world. Almost certainly, exams and other assessment that you take will lead to feelings of pressure and strain, not least because they are, self-evidently, important.

While these new challenges can be enormously exciting, they may also cause personal stress or anxiety. To get the most from your university experience, it’s important to come to terms with this potential for stress, recognise it as part of personal growth, and learn to respect and work within your own boundaries. All of this means managing the stress you experience.

One Sheffield undergraduate described studying at University as “like a roller-coaster ride" with ups and downs, highs and lows – quick bursts of activity filled with fear and excitement.

Self Motivation: A Student's Perspective

"The flipbook was drawn and flicked by me. It illustrates how I’ve been able to pursue new and old activities by being self-motivated. I feel this skill has been integral to the progress I’ve been able to make in all aspects of my university life. For most, university is the start of real independence from parents, domestically, academically and socially. Self-motivation has been the key to successfully juggling all the new responsibilities university gave me." Nancy Brown, Year 3 Psychology, 2013.

Not everyone will feel like this, but there will be times when you find it difficult to see how you will get to the end of your degree. At these times you need to reflect on where you have come from and where you may be heading. We all struggle to keep going all the time and you will be no different. But there are ways of working to sustain your efforts when you need to most. For many, this will be around assessment periods – when you are revising for exams or trying to grind out the next three thousand words of your dissertation; for others, it might be more about getting started again at the beginning of a new semester.

Whatever the particular challenges you are grappling with, remember that there are plenty of ways to find the support you need.

Getting to know Sheffield
  • Walk around. Sheffield is vibrant to the point of immediate and wondrous joy should you look in any corner. It’s got something for everyone.
  • The incredibly diverse scene makes for a welcoming community as well as amazing food. Coffee, scoffingtons, vodka, pad thai, beer, souvlaki, burgers, sushi, the list is virtually endless. London Road, West Street, Division Street are all bound to delight your taste buds.
  • The parks around campus are also a real highlight, especially when the sun is out. Crookes Valley Park, Weston Park, and Ponderosa, all a leg’s stretch away from the Student’s Union, offer a bucolic respite from the hecticness surrounding them.
  • Kelham island is the perfect place for a hip, delicious, getaway. There are vegan restaurants, traditional bakeries and the famous Peddler Street Market where food abounds, among many others.
  • Sheffield is a hop skip and a jump away from the Peak District Park, famous UK-wide for its rolling hills and beautiful scenery. If the outdoors are your thing, the hikes this National Park offers are sure to delight you.

Top Tips

  • Take notes. Don’t think that you’ll remember, because you won’t. Encore will help you rewatch and presentation slides are often made available, but taking notes during a lecture will help you consolidate what you’re listening to.
  • I would highly recommend actively engaging in lectures and seminars, as challenging as it may be at times. Genuinely questioning, critiquing, adding, connecting to relevant literature or general knowledge you might have is always appreciated by the lecturers and is a good way to make your presence known.
  • First year is important. Not pleasant to hear, I know, but the academic foundation that first year presents is what the rest of your University knowledge-base is going to be built on. Getting to second year and realising you don’t have either the knowledge you require or the skills to mold that into academic material will mean spending extra time trying to catch up, and there’s a reason you have a whole year to do it.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, talk to someone. Fellow students, the module leader, your personal tutor. It cannot be emphasized enough that there are no stupid questions, and acknowledging that is half the work done.
  • It’s important to find your community. This will come naturally, as you’ll be meeting a lot of new people, but joining one of the University’s 300+ societies and clubs is a great way to bond with people with similar interests, keep yourself active, try something new.
Academic Skills Certificate

Recognition for your skills development

The 301 Academic Skills Certificate provides an opportunity for you to gain recognition for developing your skills and reflecting on this experience. Through this reflection you will be able to identify changes and improvements to your academic skills that will lead to long-term benefits to your studies. The 301 Academic Skills Certificate acknowledges your commitment to enhancing your academic and employability skills and personal development.

You can find more information on the 301 Academic Skills Certificate here.

Back to Study Skills Online

Back to Top