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Study tips for commuter students

Expert guidance from Study Advice at the University of Reading

When you're commuting to campus, you need to think about different ways to use your time and to get organised.

Using your time effectively

You may have gaps in your timetable between lectures that are not long enough to settle down to extended study. If you're not on campus every day, you will want to make sure you make the most of your time, and these short periods can feel wasted.

It's never a bad thing to take time to have a coffee with your peers, but if you'd rather be studying the key is to know what tasks can be done in the available time. For instance you might:

  • Browse the shelves in the Library for some extra reading
  • Download a chapter from an ebook to read later
  • Check that you've been consistent in writing your references
  • Have a list of things to follow up from feedback, and look for a guide or video that might help
  • Write a quick summary of what you can remember from your last lecture with any questions you have
  • Make a plan for writing your next assignment
  • Draw up a mind-map of the last topic you covered to set you up for exam revision later

If you have a weekly to-do list, you can highlight the quick tasks on it and tick them off as they get done. Very satisfying!

Carrying a virtual backpack

When you can't just pop back to your room for something you've forgotten, it can be tempting to try and carry everything you might need with you. There are a number of drawbacks to this approach: it makes it more difficult to find what you need; you're still likely to forget something; carrying round heavy bags can give you backache; it can slow you down getting across campus to classes.

Instead of carrying everything around with you, get used to using a 'virtual backpack'. Make the most of apps and eresources to minimise the amount you need to carry around with you, and maximise your chances of finding what you need:

  • Keep all of your working documents in Cloud-based storage like Google Docs or One Drive, so you can access them wherever you are.
  • Use your online reading list for quick and easy access to the reading you need.
  • Make the most of eresources like ebooks and journal articles.
  • Try a notemaking app like Evernote.
  • Know where to find essential information about your course on Blackboard, whether it's in your Programme Handbook or course that you've been enrolled on.
  • Get used to using Blackboard, Me@Reading, and Essentials to keep up-to-date with study and University information.
  • Always check if there's an online version before picking up more paper copies of anything.