Am I going to be good enough for the next academic level?

Gareth Hughes is the Clinical Lead for Student Space and is a psychotherapist, researcher and writer on student wellbeing, including the book Be Well, Learn Well

As a result of coronavirus, you may have experienced disruption to your education. In these circumstances, it’s natural that you might feel underprepared for the next stage of study.

Academic self-efficacy

Academic self-efficacy is our belief in our own ability to succeed academically. It is important for our future learning and achievement. Believing that you are competent at something has an impact on your confidence and your ability to do complex tasks. It’s natural if you’re worried that gaps in your learning may undermine your academic ability, confidence and future achievement.

But, we should recognise how much of an impact the disruption of lockdown has caused. By the time schools and universities closed in March, most of the academic year was already over. The bulk of the time remaining was devoted to completing assignments and revising for and sitting exams. Most of your learning had already happened.

You are good enough

This is important; because our culture tends to focus on grades and exams, we can be tricked into thinking that producing grades is the point of education. As a result, if we don’t sit our end of year exams, we can think that there was no point in our education that year.

But of course, this is not correct. The point of education is to be educated – to acquire learning, knowledge, understanding and wisdom. The learning that you did acquire before lockdown is not lost. The foundations that you built to be successful are still solid. You are good enough and have the ability to move onto the next academic level.

Also, your university already knows that you’ve experienced this disruption. Lecturers across the country have been working hard to adapt their teaching for the next academic year. No one is expecting this year to be like any other. If you do feel that there are gaps in your knowledge, your lecturers won’t be surprised if you ask them for help.

How to prepare

Of course, you can also help to build your own confidence and competence by the way in which you engage with your learning. If you feel anxious about your ability, you may want to avoid thinking about it or engaging with studying at all. This is a normal response to things that make us feel anxious, but in this case our emotions are misreading the situation. Spending some time preparing for the year ahead will help to improve your confidence and ability to succeed when the academic year starts.

Here are some ways you might start:

  • Work your way through a reading list
  • Watch some online lectures or videos about your subject (from reputable sources)
  • Familiarise yourself with key terms and concepts
  • Remind yourself what you enjoy about your subject and dedicate some time to exploring that.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for support with your learning if you need it. Your university will have a range of support to help you improve academic skills, including personal tutors, librarians and study skills advisors. Check out what your university can offer you and use this support to help improve your learning and confidence.