Getting organised, finding places and systems that work for you.
Emma: If I could pass on just one study tip to a new student it would be, get organised, get really, really organised, way before the course begins. If you've got any outstanding DIY jobs that need attending to, do them before the course begins. Get your house ready, prepare family and friends.
I think it's not just students that need to be prepared, but family and friends as well need to know that you're taking on a new commitment and it's going to mean that you're not as available as you were.
Think about how you're going to organise all the material that's going to come through your door. I think students are shocked - tutors are shocked, we're all shocked - at just how much material we receive from the OU. Set up some folders. Set up a folder for administration. Set up a folder for correspondence. Set up a folder for notes that you're going to take from the course materials.
Find an area where you can leave your material, where you can access it without just piling it up, because those piles are going to grow bigger and bigger and bigger. So I think getting organised, and thinking about your schedule. Look at a typical week. See where your free time is and start to think "Yes I have got a spare three hours, four days a week. That's when I'm going to do my studying". And just start to prepare for that new commitment that you're taking on.
Being organised is not necessarily about being tidy - it's about having a system in place that works for you. You need somewhere to study and somewhere to keep your study materials, files and books. You'll also need access to a computer.
If you don't have a room to yourself then you might want to work at the kitchen or dining room table. You'll also no doubt find other places to study - you may find you can listen to an audio recording in your car, or study on the train, for example.
You could also make use of your local library. The Open University is a member of the SCONUL Access scheme. SCONUL Access allows OU students to use and borrow books from other participating university libraries, or visit them for a quiet place to study. Most of the university libraries in the UK (and some in Ireland) are participating in the scheme. Find out more about libraries near you.
Boxes or bags can be used to transport materials you are currently using, say to prepare for an assignment. A bag can even have its own filing system and you can take it wherever you need to work - on the train, in the garden, or to the local library.
"I learn mostly by listening. I tape myself reading passages in my book, or my online journals or whatever, and I record pertinent points on my digital recorder then I can play them back on my iPod. It's really good for on the move as well as when I'm at home."