Learning in University

Compared to learning up to high school, how is learning different in university?
Here, we explain the characteristics of learning in university from four perspectives.

01 Learning Objectives

“Constructing knowledge” over mere “memory & understanding”!

Until high school, learning is often aimed at scoring well on tests and passing university entrance exams, focusing on understanding and memorizing predetermined content.
In contrast, university learning emphasizes constructing and expressing your own ideas and opinions rather than just memorizing and understanding. The purpose of university research is to “create new knowledge.” Particularly at Tohoku University, which holds “research first” as one of its founding principles, all undergraduates are expected to acquire the basics of research activities, including knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

02 Classes

A critical and proactive attitude is essential!

In classes, rather than just trying to understand the content presented by instructors, it’s important to view it critically, sometimes doubtfully, and understand it from your own perspective and direction to construct your unique knowledge. In university, explanations by university instructors and content in textbooks are not “absolutely correct”, but always subject to criticism (sometimes, there may even be typos in textbooks).
In classes, instructors may not always provide detailed explanations or answers to problems, or even if they do, the speed may be too fast to take notes. If you fall behind in class, don’t expect instructors to proactively check on you. It’s important to seek help early.

03 Timetable

Check your graduation requirements! Consult early if you’re in trouble.

In university, you need to register for classes yourself. There are required courses that you must take, elective required subjects where you need to obtain a certain number of credits from a set of choices, and elective subjects that you can freely choose.
It’s important to note that each faculty has its “graduation requirements.” To avoid the situation of “not having enough credits for graduation” right before graduation, make sure to confirm which classes you need to take. However, even understanding the “graduation requirements” can be difficult for freshmen. In such cases, consulting with senior students in the same faculty or the course registration consultation desk is a good approach.

04 Self-Management

Plan a schedule that is manageable and not too taxing on your physical and mental health!

You might think it’s a good idea to take many classes in your first year to prepare for the future. However, taking too many classes can lead to excessive busyness, pushing your mental and physical limits, and ultimately leading to a breakdown in all aspects of your life.
For a 2-credit class, the required study time is set at 90 hours. This means, on a weekly basis, in addition to the 2 hours of class time (90 minutes in actuality), an additional 4 hours of study time is required outside of class.
This also means you need to allocate 4 hours of study time for homework, in addition to the 2 hours of class time. Some students might also be balancing club activities or part-time jobs with classes as well.
In university, self-management (time management and mental control, etc.) becomes necessary. Therefore, it is recommended to first write out a weekly schedule. Don’t just think about class time, but also include study time outside of class and your rest time, ensuring that you can maintain a schedule that allows for the necessary time, and adjust the number of classes you take accordingly.