Starting a new university module or class can be overwhelming, whether this is your first year of university or you’re an old hat like me!

There’s so much information.

There’s textbooks, documents, and emails coming at you from all different directions.

So it's easy to panic about what you should be doing first.

Do the right things first and you’ll start every new university module with a bang.

In this blog post, you'll discover:

  • The five steps you need to take first to start your next university module strong
  • How to organise yourself and your study materials
  • How to make a good impression on your tutor.


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1. Get to know the module

Every university is different but you should have received or be able to access and download your syllabus and some welcome material about the course. Have a good read through all of these documents so you can find out what you’re going to be learning over the next few months to a year.

There should be information about the structure of the course and how the course will be delivered. You’ll learn what aspects will be online and what will be face-to-face (if any).

Your syllabus will give you an idea of how much time you need to spend studying each week. And your course may have specific learning outcomes which will show you what you must learn and achieve to get high grades.

There should also be information about the resources available to help and support you throughout your study.

Spend some time getting acquainted with your new university module so you can start studying with a clear idea of what’s expected of you and when.

2. Record those important dates

Lots of dates will be thrown around at the beginning of your new university module. Dates of tutorials, assignments, group projects, practice tests and exams. It’s your responsibility to know when these are and to make sure you meet these deadlines.

The first step therefore is to record these dates. I recommend storing these in two places. First, record them in a digital calendar or a physical diary or planner. So when you look at your weekly and monthly calendars you can see an overview of your important dates. Then create a list for each type of date e.g. tutorials, assignments, tests and exams…etc. Store these lists in your physical folders so you can easily see what's due next. 

3. Introduce yourself to your tutor

Find a way to introduce yourself to your tutor at the start of your new university module. This could be face-to-face if you study at a campus or by email if you’re an online, distance learner.

Introducing yourself to your tutor is the first step to showing them that you’re hardworking and that you’ll be engaged in their module.

At the Open University, my tutors would send out a group email welcoming us to the course. I would always reply to them to introduce myself. But there’s some other things you can say and ask to give you a leg up in your studies.

So, here’s some things you should include in your email or face-to-face conversation:

  • Tell them what you’re excited about learning in their class
  • Explain how this module fits into your longer term study or career aspiration
  • State which grade you’re aiming for (and ask if they could include advice in their feedback to support your aim)
  • Tell them what your study weaknesses are (and, again, ask if they could focus on this in their feedback to help you improve)
  • Ask how they prefer to be contacted if you need some help
  • Let them know any issues they should be aware of e.g. if English isn’t your first language, any disabilities…etc.
  • Click here to learn 16 other simple ways you can impress your tutor.

    4. Organise your study materials

    Your life will be A LOT easier if you spend some time thinking about how you want to organise your study materials for your new university module. You need to decide how and where you’re going to store your notes, important dates, assessment guidance, completed essays and feedback, handouts and revision material.

    In last week’s blog post I gave you a simple but powerful method to organising your study materials.

    If you are studying multiple modules, organisation is doubly important so you don’t misplace and mix up your materials.

    Spend some time getting organised now so you stay on track, find things easily and never forget a due date.

    5. Set up your computer folders

    If you’re at the beginning of your university journey, organise your digital files now so its easier to stay organised later, even as your files grow and grow.

    But don’t worry if you’re partway through your studies and you’ve not got a clear folder structure in place. It’s never too late to get organised. A new university module is the perfect time to introduce some new study methods.

    Follow this quick method to set up a super organised folder structure.

    New university module how to set up your college folders

    1. Start by going to your documents and creating your main folder, labelled ‘university’ or ‘college’
    2. Inside that, create folders for ‘modules’, ‘admin’ and ‘other’. In the ‘admin’ folder you could file student finance documents or results information. Then keep an ‘other’ folder for any miscellaneous files
    3. Inside ‘modules’, create folders for each of your modules as you go
    4. Inside each ‘module’ folder, create separate folders for the different types of module documents you’ll have e.g. ‘assessments’, ‘notes’, ‘handouts’, ‘readings’, ‘revision materials’, ‘admin’, ‘other’…etc.
    5. You could then create additional folders where necessary. For example, within ‘assessments’ you could have folders labelled, ‘plans’, ‘drafts’, ‘final versions’ and ‘marked assignments’.

    There's something satisfying about having a place for everything.


    How to Actually START Your Essay

    Workbook + video training to take you from procrastination and overwhelm to understanding your question and mapping out your ideas with momentum. Easier, faster essay writing (and higher grades) await.

    Start Your Essay

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