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15th January 2021 Rosa Chalfen (2019, English) and Costi Levy (2019, Philosophy and Spanish)

Studying at home: Exeter students’ top tips for online learning

The recent national lockdown has unfortunately meant that, once again, the majority of students will be studying remotely. Away from Oxford itself, one aspect of University life always remains—the work! But focusing on essays and problem sheets can prove challenging in a home environment. Although for many first-year students this will be their first time studying remotely, second and third-year students who completed Trinity Term 2020 online have learnt what it takes to be productive in such strange circumstances. Below are some of their top tips:

Use resources to the full

Although many of us won’t have access to physical libraries, many Oxford libraries are providing ‘Scan and Deliver’ services for books in their collections. The College library is also working on a postal loan service and offering advice on finding material and using online resources. Don’t be afraid to exploit these resources—they are there for you to optimize your learning.

Communicate with your peers

Message people on your course who you would normally see in tutorials or around College. They can help you develop ideas or understand things that you find challenging, as well as providing much needed human contact in these potentially isolating times. Make sure to keep in contact with your tutors too—keep them updated on your work and ask for help if you are struggling.

Expand your horizons

With more time to read and think, studying remotely might be a good chance to find out more about parts of your course that you’re interested in. Read into things—follow up on references that catch your attention—broaden your knowledge and passions. See this term as a chance to delve deeper into your subject and consolidate your learning.

 Limit social media use

Your phone is the enemy of success when it comes to online studying. Don’t have it anywhere near you in tutorials or classes, and only check it in breaks or after you have finished work for the day. It might be helpful to put time limits on certain apps so that you’re not tempted to keep scrolling during work hours. The app ‘Flora – Green Focus’ is also good: it blocks you from using any other apps when you start a work timer, and enables you to track your hours.

Create a study space….

Have a set space in which you work. Keep it clean and tidy, and gather everything you need at the start of the day, so that you won’t get distracted later on. Try and find somewhere quiet, with some natural light, that you will be comfortable in. When you’re done for the day, close your books and put them away. It’s important to differentiate your work time from relaxing time.

 …but don’t get stuck in it

“I find at home I really need to plan to leave the room in my breaks, otherwise my room can feel a bit like a jail cell. In my breaks, I try to go downstairs for ten minutes and then come back with a fresh head space” comments Patrick Oliver (2019, Medicine).

Take regular breaks to spend time with family, go for a walk or watch a TV episode. Try and get outside for exercise once a day—it will help clear your head and make you more productive.

Cut yourself some slack

No one is expecting you to produce your best ever work during this term. It’s fine to take more breaks than usual, take longer to do work or have days off. Make sure to do things you enjoy every day and prioritise your mental and physical health. Work is important, but not as important as looking after yourself.

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