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Being an OU student
Being an OU student

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5.1 Getting your family and friends on board

Having considered how you’ll manage your time, you might also be thinking about the impact of studying on those around you. It’s a good idea to have a conversation with the people you live with, or others you are close to, so they understand what you’re taking on and how they can best support you.

You might want to discuss:

  • When you plan to study (perhaps look back together on the time planning activity you did in Activity 1 of this session) - will you need to stop doing anything and could they help you out? For example could a partner or family member take children to classes or activities to give you some time for study? Could someone else take on more household chores?
  • Exam and assessment dates – they need to know that you can’t move these dates and are likely need to spend more time on your studies at these times. You also need to be careful about clashes with holidays and other events.
  • Arrangements for attending tutorials and other events – these usually take place in the evenings or at weekends. If you’re attending online tutorials make sure people in your household know you’ll need computer access and some peace and quiet.
  • Computer access – if you share a computer with others in your household you may need to negotiate times to use it. If your broadband connection is slow or unstable, others might not be able to use the internet while you’re attending online tutorials or watching videos as part of your studies.
  • Where you’ll study – you’ll need somewhere to store your notes, books and other study materials (pens, paper etc.) and to actually sit and study. You may need to negotiate with other household members where this space will be.

What else can your family and friends do to help? Everyone is different but here are some ideas:

  • Offering to listen if you want to talk about things you’ve been reading – talking through subjects in your own words helps understanding and learning. Sometimes a ‘novice’ rather than another student can be the best person to do this with.
  • Being patient if you seem distracted or anxious, particularly around exam time or when assignment deadlines are looming. Giving you some space and taking care of household chores and other commitments may help.
  • If you have children, offering to take them out for a while so you’re not distracted.
  • Being understanding and supportive if you’re disappointed with a score or grade. Appreciating that your studies matter and you’ll be upset is important. They may be able to think of something to do to cheer you up, and be a listening ear if you want to talk it through.
  • Sharing your joy when you hit important milestones, for example submitting your first assignment, passing an assignment, completing a module or even simply getting to grips with a tricky topic. Do something nice to celebrate!

Don’t forget that you are part of a supportive community of students, tutors and staff. If you find yourself needing some support you can talk to other students in your tutor group forum, through social media or find out about opportunities to meet other students through the OU Students Association. Studying at a distance does not mean you are isolated. Your tutor is also there to support you with the module materials and if you’re struggling at all you can always contact your student support team (SST).