One of the biggest (and best) differences between school and university learning is the flexibility. Once you start university, mundane awakenings to be met with the same school routine every day become a distant memory. Each day is different – different classes, different times, different people. If I have no early morning classes I tend to go to the gym or the pool, which are both on campus anyway making things a little easier. I then spend most of my day in the library, while going to any timetabled classes in between. As a fourth year student, I have very few contact hours each week – the number of classes tends to decrease as you progress through the years. However, this allows more time for self-study which, in my opinion, is the main difference between school and university learning. Most of my university learning takes place in the library, giving me the chance to revise economics lectures, prepare for Spanish classes or complete assignments, fuelled by plenty of coffee. Outside the classroom there is still plenty scope for learning, with updates on the economy often featuring in the news or in every day life, as well as trying to better my Spanish by watching films, listening to music or podcasts.
My course is particularly varied because I study a language. Studying MA Economics with Spanish means I do about two thirds economics and one third Spanish. Economics can involve the understanding of more social and political issues just as much as it does complex maths and graphs. Spanish on the other hand involves learning about a whole range of issues, from climate change to Latin American literature, all in the context of another language. Plus the classes are small, meaning there is a friendly approach to the learning.
Despite deadlines and exam time being pretty stressful periods on the university calendar, the overall learning experience tends to be more independent and relaxed than school. You can set your own priorities and learn in a way that suits you.