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Study tips for commuter students

Expert guidance from Study Advice at the University of Reading

When you're not living on or close to campus, it can be more difficult to build social networks. It's tempting, when you have other commitments or want to avoid busy travel times, to only stay on campus as long as you have academic commitments like lectures, seminars or lab sessions. If you do this, it may be more difficult to get involved in extra-curricular activities like clubs and societies. This can also mean fewer opportunities for informal interactions with your peers, and little chance to meet students studying other subjects.

Some commuter students have seen this as an advantage, giving them fewer distractions from studying. However, there are many advantages to having study 'buddies' in your subject.

It can also be helpful to have friends who are studying a different subject from you. They may have their deadlines at different times so that they are not as stressed as your classmates when you need a calming chat! It's always helpful too to see how different studying can be in different disciplines. It can help you to understand the particular features of studying in your own subject.

Studying together

Studying together with other students isn't something you should just save for group work projects:

  • You can work together to share your knowledge about what's needed for assignments: or to work out that none of you know, so you don't feel so bad about asking your tutor!
  • Brainstorming your ideas can be very productive, especially if you're doing an independent research project like a dissertation.
  • If you're doing exam revision, you can share reading and test each other on what you've learnt.
  • It's also good to have people to motivate you when you need a bit of a boost. Don't forget to do the same for them!

If you do have a group work project, any experience you have with building virtual meeting spaces (e.g. in a private Facebook Group or wiki) will also come in handy to share ideas and stay up to date with progress.

Building networks

Even if you can't commit yourself to regular involvement, do consider joining one of the University's clubs and societies. You should be able to find a list of them on the Student Union's website. A good way to start getting involved is to see if your department has a student society. You might not be interested in the social events they run, but they're also likely to run events connected to your subject (like visits to galleries, courts, or other places of interest) that would be of real benefit to you in your studies.

Don't be afraid to ask your fellow students if they'd like to go for a coffee - they might be secretly wishing they could pluck up the courage to do the same. There are lots of social spaces on campus and you'll soon find your favourite.

It's also worth seeing if your dept has social media accounts you can follow. Many are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It's a good way to keep informed when you're not on campus and to connect with other students. You might consider starting your own Facebook groups to discuss your studies, or revise together.