By Leanne Goodall

I’m feeling quite calm about my next module and the fact that it will soon be starting. However, I have been reminiscing about my nerves as a newer student in previous years. It’s got me thinking about the excitement and nerves of all the new OU students that are about to start their journey and how they may be feeling. I wondered what advice I could share with them all and which would be the most crucial pieces. What follows is what I came up with and I hope that it can be of help to some new students who will be #New2OU.


Of course that does come as the most basic of instincts but I mean really breathe. Take your time, take things one step at a time and just breathe. Your journey with the OU is likely to be a lengthily process where you will learn far more than you ever imagined and learning to simply remain calm and breathe is a valuable lesson that you’ll draw upon time and time again.


I bet that many, many new students are worried, I was too. It’s a big thing and we don’t know what to expect. We don’t know if we can do it, what the other students will be like, what the tutors are like, if we’ll understand the materials and so much more. You DO NOT need to worry because all of these feelings are totally normal. I had all of those and more but have finally learned that I really didn’t need to worry. So many other students are in a similar boat and only a few will be fully confident or without nerves. You can be sure that any concern you have will have been had by at least one other student and that things really will be OK. Worrying will only hinder you so, if only to help yourself, try your best not to worry.


So let’s presume that you’re not worrying now, you’re taking a breath and getting ready to start. The next thing you can do is get prepared. You don’t need to go crazy and get ahead by learning the entire course, just be prepared. By that I mean have a good read of the course details on the website. Note down the things that you’ll be studying and just find an overview of them. For example, one of my last courses included the French Revolution and Atlantic Slavery so I just did a bit of ‘Google-ing’ so that I understood the very basics of what they were. Maybe you could choose a film or documentary to watch which covers something that you’ll study? It just saves you a little time and further worry when you come to it within the course material if you get the basics or have at least heard of it before. Aside from the materials, think about where and when you might like to study. Some find it useful to create a timetable and study area while others have a more ad-hoc approach but at least give it a little thought. When your course website opens, have a good look around it as it will have lots of useful information on there. Also note down the dates of your TMAs, exams etc – make sure you have these in your diary so that you can plan life around them. Try getting social with other OU students. If you use Twitter then try looking under the hashtag #New2OU for all kinds of tips and advice. It will help you connect with other students too.


Lastly, studying with the OU is a privilege and a complete pleasure. It’ll be hard work, sure but it’s meant to be. Accept that and embrace what you’re doing – it’s probably going to change your life.

Have you had a similar experience? Perhaps you are just about to start studying with the Open University for the first time and you feel nervous? Please LIKE/SHARE/TWEET or leave a comment below. This social currency helps us to grow and improve the value we are able to provide for OU students 🙂


The Open University study guide is now available! Click on this image to find out more.