As I reached the end of my first year at the OU, I realised I had learned so many tips and tricks along the way. I think most, if not all of the following points are things that’ll continue to be applicable throughout my whole journey with the OU. Having said that, I’ve shared some study tips before on my studygram, but I really wanted to share these tips with my fellow OU students, so here we go!
1 Attend events
There are many events for OU students, ranging from academic and social ones. Events are a great way to meet other OU students, but also get some support on many topics, such as critical thinking and writing, referencing study tips and study skills, and even time management. These are mainly run by the StudentHubLive, the OU Library and the OU Students Association.
2 Believe in yourself
It is so important to believe in yourself, and in the University. Everyone is here to help and support you, but no one can help or support you as much as yourself. Being confident in your ability to succeed is vital to get you through the more difficult (but very normal and natural) parts of being a university student.
Feedback isn't personal criticism. As a perfectionist, sometimes feedback may blind you into thinking you're not capable of making it through, but you are. Take the feedback on board and learn from it, it's literally one of the best learning tools you can use! If you're upset by it, step away until you've calmed down, then come back and look at it again. I've heard of some people that make a note of all their feedback and have it by them when completing TMAs so they don't make the same mistakes.
4 Your tutors
One of the most important things to do as a student is to reach out to your tutor. They are really there to help you, and it's better to reach out and say you don't understand than to do badly on your TMA because you didn't understand and didn't ask. Yes, Facebook groups and OU forums can be great to discuss things with students, but your tutor is also a fantastic source of help and support.
Make some good friends, even if they aren't doing the same degree/modules as you. Friends make this experience a lot more fun and special. I know this is something that many students struggle with as our university is online, but tip number 1 is a great way to make friends. Joining Facebook groups, as well as OU Students Association clubs and societies means you can meet people and make friends who you have common interests with. I've created a thread on Facebook that contains most of the unofficial OU Facebook groups, so feel free to check that out as well!
6 Time management
Studying requires a lot of good time management, but it's important to be flexible with your timetable (leave some time for procrastination because it seems to be inevitable, haha). It's very natural to sometimes be unable to stick to your timetable or plan, and please be patient with yourself when that happens. If you feel like you're unable to catch up, follow tip number 4, and reach out to your tutors! They can help you get back on track if you happen to fall behind.
7 Planning and calendars
Calendars are really useful - if you mark all the due dates, tutorials and any other events that are coming up on there, then you can work accordingly. This reduces stress around those deadlines (as long as you work regularly and not leave everything till the last minute, even if it's only a little bit of studying every day..). It also means that you know when you have a big event in your personal life, and don't have to miss it because you've already added it to your timetable, and therefore you've taken it into consideration when planning your time and studying.
8 Patience is key
It is so vital for you to remember to be patient with yourself. You might not get the grades you want from day 1, but that's completely normal! With hard work and dedication, you will get there. Rome wasn't built in a day, and what you are working towards achieving isn't small or easy.
If you ever need a reminder of the fact that great things take time, I'd definitely suggest you go onto the main OU Facebook group and read some of the success stories people share on there.
9 Virtual communication
Although might not necessarily feel important, if you do apply tips 1 and 5, please do keep this tip in mind. With no body language, facial expressions or tones of voices, it's easy for misunderstandings to occur, and easy for people to get hurt. But it's even easier to be kind, respectful and compassionate, so be sure to think and then think again and again and again before commenting anything. It's possible that people will interpret something in a completely different way than what you meant, so remember to add a little bit of kindness and positivity whenever possible when community with your peers.
10 Enjoy your journey
I'd say this experience is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I know many OU students become addicted to studying with the OU after their first module, so this doesn't apply to most of us. However, you're still only going to do this once. You're only going to complete module X once. You're only going to do your first TMA ever once. You're only going to do your second TMA ever once. The list goes on and on, but the point of this is to remind you to spend some time enjoying the journey in the midst of all the studying, stress and assignments. This definitely is an absolutely incredible experience.
I really hope you found these tips and this article helpful!