Learning in the UK: Get a Head Start

11 July 2014

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Change is both exciting and challenging. You're about to make a big change, from the learning culture that you're familiar with to enter university in a quite different learning culture in the UK. Learning at university level needs an independent approach, especially in a UK research-intensive university like UCL.

To get the most benefit, you need to take charge of your learning journey as an active explorer, rather than waiting passively for things to start happening as if you were a passenger on a bus or train. There will be a lot to deal with when you arrive, including the study programme when term starts in September. If you have a few hours to spare between now and then, there are some simple ways that you can prepare yourself ahead of time and, as the saying goes, 'hit the ground with your feet already running'.

Important learning happens both within and outside the academic programme of classes and subject study. UCL provides access to resources and opportunities for self-directed learning and development alongside the formal curriculum. An important resource is for personal and professional development of the skills and attributes that will help you make the most of your degree programme and to improve your employability. You can take a look online at www.ucl.ac.uk/ppd and familiarise yourself ahead of time with what's available. Among other things, UCL has licensed access to a highly regarded online resource 'skills4studycampus' produced by the academic publisher Palgrave Macmillan and based on the work of Dr Stella Cottrell, now Pro-Vice Chancellor at another London university. There are interactive modules that you can work through at your own pace, exploring topics ranging from 'Getting Ready for Academic Study' to 'Writing Skills', 'Time Management', 'Exam Skills' and several more that you will certainly find useful. To get access to all of these, you will need a UCL email and password, but if you don't have this yet you can access and work through a preparation module at http://www.skills4studycampus.com/institution/UCL.html and get a taste of what is available. You'll find out a lot about how university study works in the UK and have a chance to get clearer about what is important to you and how to best realise your goals.

As the scientist Louis Pasteur said "Fortune favours the prepared mind" and we will be offering more guidance on preparing your mindset for success and satisfaction as you prepare to join our learning community here at UCL in the near future. We look forward to your arrival and welcoming you to the start of this phase of your lifelong learning journey.

Dr Paul Walker

Principal Teaching Fellow and Associate Director (Student Engagement)

UCL Centre for the Advancement of Learning & Teaching (CALT)

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