The growth in opportunities to enter higher education in the past two decades has led to a remarkable increase in the proportion of the British population who are now educated to graduate level. This transformation of the landscape of higher education has also been associated with an increase in student dropout, increasing dependence on lecturers, and ultimately failure. In short, although the agenda of widening participation has many worthy aspirations, it has also engendered some issues relating to students’ outcomes. As a new recruit to academia from teaching in the sixth form college sector, the author was interested to see how students made the transition from college to university study. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the approaches taken by two groups of undergraduate students to study during their first term at a business school. The research involved a cohort of 50 students and a 25-item structured questionnaire together with feedback from focus groups. This research sought to bridge the conventional methodological and theoretical divide between those who focus on self-regulated learning (SRL) and those, particularly in British context, who choose to investigate students’ approaches to learning (SAL). In doing so, this research serves both as a primer for further exploration and debate for a possible synthesis between these two approaches. In particular, the findings highlight the importance of self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and self-image, and how these concepts may be linked to strategic, deep and surface forms of learning.