The Journey from School to Undergraduate Study in Chemistry
In honour of World Science Day for Peace and Development 2020, we are sharing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) leader Dr Kristy Turner’s blog on supporting learners with their journey into higher education.
This is now my fifth year working on both sides of the school to university transition. I have been teaching in 11-18 year old schools for nearly 14 years, all of that working with students taking A-level Chemistry, many of whom aspired to go to university to study science subjects.
Since 2015 I have had a dual role, working part of the week in a secondary school and the rest in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Manchester. This gives me a unique insight into the challenges and opportunities as students transition from ‘sixth former’ to undergraduate.
Many factors contribute to a positive transition. Students may need to put aside some of their study habits and routines as they move into new ways of working. Universities are constantly refining their programmes for the early years of degrees, aiming to provide a better fit with students’ prior experience and curriculum.
“I now think of my Year 13s less as people soon to be leaving school and more as people about to step over to higher education, and so I encourage more independent learning.”
You can read more about how you as an educator can evaluate how your own institution contributes to positive transitions for students moving from school to university. Here are some questions to consider:
- What role do you think schools and colleges play in the transition to higher education?
- How can you make small and sustainable changes to prepare students leaving your school to successfully pursue higher education in STEM subjects?
Reflecting on this academic year
This is one of the most difficult years we have faced in Higher Education but students should be reassured that we’re working hard behind the scenes to give them the best experience we can. I am in regular contact with all my personal tutees and project students, checking on their welfare as well as guiding their academic work.
It’s a worrying time for those young people making their applications. Use all the resources you can to get a good feel for the institution and city. Your school probably has former students at lots of different universities and there are also lots of virtual events. Universities are very responsive to prospective students so if you need something clarified, then just ask.