When spooky season is haunting us with our first TMAs

While we can't scream and run, we can definitely eat candy and invoke the gods of wisdom to guide us... as we scream in place in front of the computer screen.

October… sweet, sweet innocent October. I can easily associate this month with sweets and ‘haunted’ mazes without any sort of forgetfulness. It’s joyous – happy almost – with childish innocence. Vampires, zombies, ghosts and what have you. That is until we are talking about our first assignments. That is when a certain type of adrenaline washes through and it is never because of any monster. 

Like clockwork, I always forget that this is the season of getting your hands dirty – so to speak – as you settle into a module and send in your first assignment of the year. Typically towards the end of the month or the beginning of the next.

For new and seasoned students alike, this is indeed an exciting and scary time. 

For us ‘experts’ (just for the sake of experience with turning in TMAs), this adrenaline is nostalgic and almost expected every year. Some of us (secretly) miss it and look forward to that rush of slight panic and momentary despair before hitting submit. (I know, we have a problem. Kind of.) 

For absolutely new students, this can be horrifying since there isn’t any comfort in having done it before. You might feel like you have a sheet over your eyes in an already dark haunted house. But, have no fear! Hopefully, this article can guide you just a tad bit and keep you from having a bad experience.

First tip of the day, personal comfort is important! This could mean making your own space and time dedicated to working on this assignment, like studying at a different corner of your room or going to a cafe. It could also mean reading your assignments beforehand and getting an idea of what to focus on as you progress in your studies. 

Regardless of what personal comfort may mean to you, I highly recommend doing something that will make your first official assignment feel less intimidating. So, if that is putting on some very creepy and dramatic music from your favourite horror movie soundtrack, I support you.

Second, don’t be afraid to contact your tutor about your assignment or studies. Trust me, they aren’t monsters that hide under your bed and will drag you down for the sake of giving you a hard time. If you have any sort of issue or question, go to them first! It may take a moment for them to reach out to you, so give them a few days before reaching out to the Student Support Team about it. For example, if you are going through an emergency where you might need a few days past the due date to turn in your assignment, definitely contact your tutor as soon as possible. Don’t wait!

Depending on the situation, you may find that someone has already addressed the problem in the forums, so don’t simply skip the forums when having an issue either. This is especially true if there’s a problem with an assignment question or a resource.

Third, get familiar with the system and what is required of you when turning in assignments. You might have been encouraged to use the online TMA service by your tutor, but if you haven’t – do try to get familiar with it.

Also, this might be a good time to get familiar with your university email and have access to Word and other tools you might need – for free.

Fourth, do check out the library and other resources to learn more about how to structure or understand your assignment better. Since I’m addressing this to new students who are doing level one modules, you may not have a use for these right now in your first assignment, but it’s good to keep in mind. 

Though, if you are new to The Open University and are not doing a level one module, I highly encourage getting familiar with the library and other academic writing resources (some of these resources can be found on your assignment’s checklist if there is one available).

Lastly, have fun! Please know there are lots of people that are simultaneously feeling the same thing you are…which could be anything. So, if you must break into a dance party every now and again during your studies because you’re not feeling too good, feel free to listen to Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett.

Make this year and every other year with the OU your own and maybe you’ll scare your assignments just a bit more than they will scare you.

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    1. Hey Sally šŸ™‚ Thank YOU for taking the time to read this article and leaving a comment! I am so happy to know that this has helped you as you embark on this new exciting journey. Is there anything in specific you are looking for or are curious about when it comes to the OU or studying in general? I love giving comfort and support to fellow students through my writing as I reflect on my own experiences/research, especially as it is my last year! Hope you are doing well and I am sending you a ton of good vibes as we enter November. Happy studies!