Students need ‘reality check’ on what university life will be like

Students need ‘reality check’ on what university life will be like

New students’ expectations of university life do not match up to reality, a new British study suggests. According to the authors, students-to-be need to ‘get real’ about university timetables, academic support and paying bills.

The study, which included more than 2,000 university applicants, suggests that new students do not have a good understanding of what university life will be like. They underestimate the costs of rent, and they have unrealistic expectations of the time they will spend in lectures. In addition, almost half of university applicants feel unprepared for living with strangers.

Unrealistic expectations

The survey was carried out by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Unite Students. According to HEPI director Nick Hillman, students need to ‘get real’ about their expectations. “Most applicants expect to spend more time in lectures than they do in school lessons, but few university students actually do this. Applicants have also thought little about how they will budget, with a majority unaware that rent is likely to be their biggest cost apart from tuition fees”, he said.

According to Hillman, many prospective students mistakenly think their university will reach out in case they struggle with psychological issues: “Almost three-quarters of them expect their future university to contact their families if they face mental health issues, but this is a legal minefield so typically does not happen.”

Reality check

Universities, schools, parents and policy-makers should work together to help new students manage their expectations. By giving them the reality check they need, Hillman argues, “we can help young people to get the most out of their time at university.”


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