Life as an Online Student: How to Study Effectively

VP Education Alissa Chohan brings you a guide on how to effectively study online and tells you all about the support that is available to you!

Studying online has its advantages, such as being able to stay in your comfy clothes all day, or not being tempted to spend all your student loan on coffee. However, it can also pose many difficulties, such as poor internet connection, a lack of motivation, or even just feeling disconnected from university life. Here is my latest guide on how to effectively study online and the support that is available to you!

Planning your day

Having a timetable and schedule is essential to having a productive day. Although it may be tempting to turn off your alarm, have a lie in and convince yourself you’ll catch up later, the reality is often very different and the next thing you know, it’s 2am and you’ve worked your way through three seasons of your favourite Netflix show. Create a timetable for your week ahead, which sets out your lecture and seminar times, dedicated study sessions, breaks, social time and even meal planning. Having a routine is key to making your year as successful as possible. During your study sessions, work solidly and focus on the task without getting distracted. If studying at night works better for you, that’s great, just ensure that you set that dedicated time aside and remove any distractions. It’s often helpful to go out for a walk, sit in the garden, or do some form of exercise (even if that’s just a quick home workout) during the day, to get some fresh air and clear your mind.

Studying effectively

Motivation and navigating effective study methods can be difficult when studying online, especially when you are staring at your screen for much of the day, which is why it’s important to take breaks in between lectures. But there are so many advantages to studying online; you have all the online resources you need at your fingertips, if you’re on a recorded lecture you can pause it any time to take a break, and you don’t have to spend time travelling to and from university or different classes.

To make the most out of your online lectures, be wary not to ‘zone out’ and ensure you are taking notes as you’re going along to avoid more work later on. It’s really helpful if you can have two screens in front of you; one to listen to the lecture and another to take notes. If you are participating in an online seminar, I highly encourage you to have your camera switched on if you feel comfortable doing so, as it will be easier for you and others to interact and engage in the session. Remember to check Moodle and your emails on a daily basis for any latest updates and don’t forget to record your attendance via Campus Connect within half an hour of your class starting. It is really important you do this as you will be classed as absent if not.

Additionally, if you are struggling with something and don’t know how to approach a task, don’t be afraid to drop an email to your personal tutor and ask for a private MS Teams meeting, just like you would pop into their office hour if you were on campus. Remember, they are here to support you and want to see you succeed!

In order to keep on top of your deadlines and stay organised, go through all your deadlines for the year, write them down on a piece of paper and pin it on your wall! This will avoid deadlines creeping up on you and will serve as a reminder to gather all the necessary resources to succeed in advance.

If you are struggling with a particular aspect of your course in terms of the way it is run, or you think that there are improvements that could be made to your online experience, make sure to contact one of your academic reps. They are a powerful voice in the student community and attend meetings with the department and myself to implement positive academic change across the University.

You can also contact The Centre for the Development of Academic Skills (CeDAS), who provide academic help and support through 1:1 tutorials and tailored resources in your subject area. They provide resources that address key aspects of academic writing and communication, maths, stats, numeracy, and studying independently. They have a dedicated section on Moodle, so log on to your Moodle page to find out more!

Getting involved in university life remotely

One of the best ways to meet new people and to form strong friendships is through joining a society. They have all been working so hard over the past few months to provide innovative new events and exciting ways for you to get involved in a safe and secure environment. There’s a whole range of groups you can get involved in, from political societies to Harry Potter Society and Games Society. Check out all the amazing societies here.

You can also become a member of one of the Collectives, who are groups that were formed to represent and give a platform for underrepresented groups in the Royal Holloway community. You can join one of these eight collectives: BAME, Commuting, Disabled, International, LGBT+, PGR, PGT and Women. Find out more here.

Additionally, if you would like careers advice or support click here. The Careers Service can provide CV and cover letter help, support in finding placements, graduate schemes, part-time jobs, career fairs, or finding employment after graduating. They provide some great opportunities throughout the year and it’s never too early to start thinking about your future after university.

Your health and wellbeing

University life can be challenging, especially in this current climate, so it is important that you look after your physical and mental health and have a strong support network. There are always people available and happy to help you! Even just face timing a family member or friend for support is often helpful. If you need any further advice or questions on how to study online effectively, feel free to contact me via email.

If you need help at any point, whether that be on an academic or personal level, the University and SU are here to help you. You can contact Student Advisory & Wellbeing at the College who can provide you with a range of advice on a variety of issues. Check out other help and support available here.

If you would like to discuss anything with our Advice Centre at the SU, including Library fines, please email them at, or arrange a phone or Zoom appointment. They are an independent and confidential service offering impartial advice.