The Guardian news article, titled ‘How to make your first year at uni count – even if your grades don’t’, highlights the findings of a recent research study conducted by Dr. Billy Wong (Associate Professor in Widening Participation, University of Reading).

The article offers some advice to first-year students on how to thrive at universities. Drawing from Dr. Wong’s study, titled ‘Swallow your pride and fear’: The Educational Strategies of High-Achieving Non-Traditional University Students, The Guardian highlights his findings that “early success can put people on track for their whole degree. High achievers get in the habit of using support systems, forming study relationships and developing high expectations of themselves.”

The Guardian also quoted Dr. Wong saying that while talking to staff can be very useful, many students are reluctant to make use of such support as “[t]here is a fear of what the feedback might be and fear of being seen as incompetent. This can lead people to avoid seeking help altogether.”

For more practical suggestions, read Dr. Wong’s open access (free) article here. More information on Dr. Wong’s research interests can be found on his staff profile page here. You can also follow him on Twitter here.



Wong, B., & Chiu, Y.L.T. (2019). ‘Swallow your pride and fear’: The educational strategies of high-achieving non-traditional university students. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 40(7), 868-882. DOI: