Firstly – well done you!!! You’ve some exciting times ahead!!!
I’ve been studying my first module (TU100 My Digital Life) with the Open University (OU) since 31st Jan 2015 and one thing I wish I’d come across was an advice list in the few weeks before I started my course! There probably is one out there somewhere – but in the event there isn’t, or like me you’ve not managed to find one – I’ve put together a list of the sorts of things I wish I’d known, from the position of a newbie, nothing scary I promise, just hopefully some advice that will help at least one other person feel a bit more prepared on their new learning adventure!
1. Be organised!!!
2. Take advantage of Freshers week – you’ll be sent emails about them – I didn’t have time leading up to starting, with two young kids and finishing the last few weeks at work I didn’t get the chance to enjoy what was on offer!
3. Take a look around the OU site as soon as you have your log in details – set up your email, your google apps, check out the forums – there’s an early bird forum which I’m sure would be useful! The OU library has a wealth of information (check out Harvard referencing – trust me! This is the referencing style the majority of OU courses use, but do double check, just in case!) I didn’t do this so literally spent the first week or two chasing my tail – trying to setup all these things, read all the paraphernalia emailed to me and the sites that are suggested you look at whilst trying to study my first session and get used to learning again – I ended up feeling a bit overwhelmed and wondering what I’d let myself in for! It worked out in the end, but if I’d been a bit more prepared things might not have felt so manic!
4. Be organised!!!
5. I got all my stationary and study supplies together early (asked for the majority for Christmas – exciting I know, but it was practical!) I got:
Lever arch files
Post it notes
Pads of A4 lined paper
A year planner – highly recommend this – I put the coloured sticky dots to show me when Tutor Marked Assignments (TMAs) needed to be submitted by and the dates of the ‘school’ days – more on these shortly! I programmed these into my phone calendar too!
A week planner – this is a magnetic one, which is on my fridge, but I’ve not been so great at using this one! Oops!
A pencil case
A headset – this is useful for any online tutorials that your tutor might provide.
The majority of items were purchased from Amazon and some bits from my supermarket – which in this case is Morrisons (they do erasable highlighters – this made me way more excited than it should, but I have a thing for stationary! What can I say!?!)
6. Prepare your family and friends – this is going to take up quite a bit of your time (I’m sorry to say, probably more than you think) – have an idea in your head of when you are going to do your studying and try and stick to it. I’m currently aiming to make sure I don’t study on Friday evenings so I can spend sometime with my husband and watch a bit of crap telly (I cannot tell you how grateful I am that we have a 2TB Sky+ box and can Sky+ all our favourite programmes – we’ve got a lot of programmes to catch up on it’s ridiculous!) not quite there yet, but hopefully this will be reality soon!
7. I am not doing paid work currently whilst I am studying, instead I have a full time job with motherhood (the holiday plans and pay suck, but my co-workers are kind of cute) – I am lucky that one day a week my in-laws look after my kids – well mainly my Blue One as my Pink One is now at school – but I don’t know how I would have done my studies without their support. The Blue One is also back with his childminder one day a week as she accepts the 15 hours from the government, so this covers the one day and gives me some additional hours left if I need them to complete an assignment – if like me you are a stay at home mum and studying and your child is 3, they are entitled to the 15 hours of free childcare the term after turning 3 – it’s worth looking into! Those who work full time, have children and study – I am in awe of you, that’s amazing and I don’t know how you do it!
8. Did I mention be organised!?!
9. Connect – use social media – the Open University has a Facebook Page, Twitter Page and Instagram (these are the ones that I know of so far – there may be more) and I am also part of The Student Blogcast (which may be where you are already listening to this post) but if not check it out. Connect with other OU students – it really helps you not to feel alone.
Once you are studying, make use of contacting your tutor, mine has been exceptionally helpful and they are great as your first port of call. The next is your Tutor Group Forum – really useful to know you’re not alone and these other people are in the same position as you.
Also, if you can, as you start studying, try and make the Tutorial ‘school’ days – this gives you the opportunity to meet your tutor in person and other people who are studying the same module as you and you can make some great friends.
Finally if you are feeling at the end of your tether be aware that the OU also have a nightline.
10. Be organised!!! I know I have joked all through this post about being organised, but for me this is the crux of the whole thing – work out how you want to record your notes and do your activities, for me my notes are typed and my activities I handwrite – unless otherwise stated – if you are not organised things will soon run away from you and you won’t be able to keep up – so focus, prepare and be organised!
Good luck with whatever you’re studying and feel free to contact me if you’d like! I hope you have enjoyed this post and it has helped you in some small way!
Also, don’t worry if you do fall behind a little, life happens – the OU will help you in everyway they can. Finally it is perfectly normal to procrastinate no matter how organised you are – what do you think I am doing right now!?!
What would you have liked to have known prior to starting your studies – or what do you wish to know before you start? Comment below – or email me (You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!)
As I included some topical lyrics in my last Student Blogcast, I thought it was only fitting I do the same again here so this time we have some words from the Beatles
“Help, I need somebody
Help, not just anybody
Help, you know I need someone, help
When I was younger so much younger than today
I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured
Now I find I’ve changed my mind I’ve opened up the door
Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me”
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Find the audio blog post here