By Leanne Goodall

How does an OU student prepare to start their academic year? The obvious answer is in many similar ways to any other students but there are a few differences to consider. Perhaps you’re about to embark on a new module or maybe you’re taking the very first step of your university study ladder and are about to start the first course. Here are a few things that you might like to consider while you prepare to start:

A Study Area

My study areaWhere do you plan on studying? This, of course, is the major difference with any student that attends a ‘brick uni’. OU or distant learning students don’t get a classroom or lecture theatre on a day to day basis (but they do occasionally pop up!) so they need to find a place to study. Now here is where everyone is different. Some study anywhere and everywhere, some have a very organised and dedicated space or study to use but which is best? WHICHEVER WORKS FOR YOU! Personally, I use both. I have a corner of a quiet room which is done out as my study area. There’s a desk, my books, folders, paper, pens and everything else that you might expect. I use this as somewhere to keep everything together. It’s my organised place and I sometimes sit there to write my assignments, read the forums and do anything ‘official’. However, I also take my books all over the place with me. I have probably studied in every room of the house, the garden, the car, in my hair dressing salon, in a field, on holiday and several other places too! That’s the beauty of distant learning; you can do whatever you like. It’s your study, you need to understand it so do it however you want to. Leanne’s study area is pictured left.

Getting Ahead?

Time and time again students ask what they can do to get ahead with the books. It’s a great idea and a really positive approach but often you are limited with exactly how you can ‘get ahead’. I’ve found that getting a really basic overview of the topics that I’ll be studying is probably all I need. The modules tend to approach things with the view that you have no previous knowledge and everything that you need is contained within them. However, reading any set text books and perhaps watching the DVDs can be useful. Partly to familiarise yourself with the subject and partly to save some time by reading at a more leisurely pace. Once the modules start the reading can be quite time consuming so if you’ve previously read a text it might just help. Be warned though, your module may not include the whole text (and often doesn’t) so you may be reading far more than you need. So again, getting ahead is really down to personal preference. At the halfway point in my degree I’m finding that making the most of the break between modules is very important. Although I am reading some of the set texts (at leisure) I am not too worried about trying to get ahead. I need the break so that I’m refreshed and ready to work hard again.


The obvious one. We’ve all been there; taken a trip to stock up on every imaginable stationery item that we can find but do we always use it all? Well that’s a whole different article!

Leanne is half way through a BA (Hons) in History with the Open University and enjoys writing as a freelancer as well as on her blog. Find out more here. You can catch up on all of Leanne’s excellent contributions on STOU here.

How do you prepare for a new module? What are your rituals and routines? 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 🙂


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