the logo

Eight steps to academic success

The transition from school to university life can be a challenge. Here are eight steps you can follow to help you make the most of your time at university

    Khasiba Omar

    Disability and inclusion advisor, The University of Law
    June 6 2024
    academic success


    The purpose of this article is to help you adjust to university life as a new student, whether undergraduate or postgraduate. I will outline eight steps to support you with this transition, but please tailor them as you see fit because every story is unique. 

    As a disability practitioner and higher education professional, I want to share my knowledge and experience to provide you with a clear understanding of the steps that you should take or can take towards academic success. 

    First step – Explore your learning style
    The key to a successful academic journey is to explore your learning preferences. Knowing your learning preferences will help you to retain the information for longer and understand the course material in more depth. 

    You might find that you are more of a visual learner and prefer colour-coding your notes. You might find that you prefer group study sessions to studying on your own. It may be that you are more productive in the evenings than in the mornings. 

    Explore different studying methods to find the right one for you. 

    Second step – Understand your course
    It is important to read the student handbook, which can be found on the university virtual learning platform. 

    Students should also take some time to read the course documents, which will outline the key learning outcomes and the assessment criteria/grade descriptors’ that you are being marked against. 

    Familiarising yourself with these documents will mean that you are well prepared for your course. 

    Third step – Understand how to analyse your course content
    Read the recommended articles or books and then take notes. To critically analyse the course materials, you are required to present your work in a well-balanced and rational argument. Further, you can use the PEEL approach when you’re presenting your argument: 
    1. Point and describe. 
    2. Explain, analyse, evaluate.
    3. Evidence to support your argument. 
    4. Link your knowledge and demonstrate/execute your argument properly.

    Fourth step – Practise self-reflection
    Practising self-reflection is all about reframing your thoughts by using reflective models such as Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle. Most importantly, remember to be kind to yourself and reflect on not just the areas in which you can improve, but also those areas in which you have done well. 

    Fifth step – Overcome obstacles and setbacks
    Sometimes you will submit a piece of work and won’t get the grade you expected. This might feel like a failure, but try not to see it that way. 

    Think of this as an opportunity and not the end. Perhaps you have not reached your goal for now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve on your grade for the next assignment. Learn from your mistakes. 

    Sixth step – Ask for guidance
    Many students struggle to seek help, but remember it is all right to reach out if you are struggling

    Get to know who your course director is. Book an appointment with the module lead or academic team if you are having any issues with your assignments. Check their availability and surgery hours using the relevant channels – via email or booking link, for example. Think about what outcome you want from the appointment. Write down all the questions, set them as an agenda and take down notes during the meeting.

    Seventh step – Access university resources
    Universities have a wide range of resources, from study skills workshops to career advice offices and mental health support. If you are struggling in any aspect of your university life, these resources can be a great way to gain some advice and confidence in these areas. 

    It can be daunting to ask for help, but these services are there to help you, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance.

    Eighth step – Organise your time and take breaks
    As a student, it is imperative to look after your physical and mental health. While that isn’t always easy, one way you can do this is by being organised with your time and scheduling regular breaks to do things you enjoy

    This can involve joining a society at university, exploring your local area, playing a sport or simply scheduling in some time to watch your favourite TV show. All of these things can help you in your academic journey.

    You may also like


    9 tips to improve your academic writing

    These are nine easy tips that can help any student overcome their writer’s block and develop their academic writing

    Hyebin Seo

    April 3 2024
    sticky sign up

    Register free and enjoy extra benefits