studying with laptop, notepad and pen

Independent learning at university

One of the major leaps from school to university is definitely the time spent learning independently. As a student at the University of Lincoln, I have found a variety of ways throughout my first year to further my understanding outside of lectures, seminars and contact time with my personal tutor.

Here are my top tips for staying focused on your own terms and things you can do to learn outside the lecture theatres.

Staying focused is an important rule when successfully extending your studies at home. To ensure your focus is maintained, remove any distractions from your working environment – switching your phone to airplane mode is a great start, as well as tidying your desk so your workspace is clean.

I’ve learnt that moving distractions helps me to stay focused for longer, allowing me to challenge myself and accomplish a greater quantity of independent work.

The next step would be to utilise your university’s facilities. The University of Lincoln library is essential for furthering your studies; whether you search the website or physically search for your desired book, the library is your first port of call when beginning independent learning.

Most of the time, your lecturer’s or course leaders will guide you in the right direction when it comes to extra reading so take their advice and look into the reading list they give you. If the library doesn’t have your book in stock, check online to see if there is an e-book version that you can access via a computer or laptop.

E-books were a saviour for my first year and helped to expand my knowledge when I was working in my room; don’t forget that the library exists and use it as much as you can… it’s FREE!

Ultimately, university life is significantly different from being at school – your days are mainly unstructured and change on a weekly basis, so there is never a strict routine.

This is where self-management comes into practice – the lack of structure can easily cause a student to laze around and spend all of their spare time watching their favourite TV show.

One of the main things I struggled with was effectively managing my time surrounding lectures and seminars; it’s crucial to adapt quickly and learn that you have to be strict with yourself and manage your time efficiently.

Something I always do to help with this adaptation is writing my own schedule from day-to-day – planning your day in advance by writing a list, will help you follow a routine and give you that feeling of accomplishment as you tick things off one by one.

Don’t be worried about the aspect of independent learning – it may seem daunting at first, but once you’ve learnt to manage your time, stay focused and gather your resources, you will be well underway to achieving above and beyond your goals.

This article is featured on Learning at Lincoln. 

Please note: This content was created prior to Coronavirus, and some things might be different due to current laws and restrictions. Please refer to the University of Lincoln for the latest information.