Making the most of your learning experience

Key to making the most of your time at university is being an active learner, which means taking opportunities to participate in and engage as much as possible with your course and other learning experiences at Surrey.

Active learning

Becoming an active learner at university may include:

  • Taking part in class discussions
  • Contributing to team projects
  • Forming informal study groups
  • Joining university clubs/societies.

However, being active also means how you approach your studies, as the guides to planning and organising your time and secrets of university success: active note-making strategies have shown.

It is important to recognise that there are multiple ways in which you can actively engage with your studies. While you can be active through communicating in class, you can also be active by thinking about and reflecting on course content and taking part in course activities. For example, solving maths equations in a tutorial, or critically analysing information, also means that you are being an active learner.

University is a place where you can decide how you develop not only your knowledge of the subject and your academic skills, but where you can also choose to develop your social, personal and professional skills. Being an active, independent learner at university enables you to decide the extent to which you wish to engage with university life, including learning opportunities beyond your course.

Being an active learner will be easier by recognising that, at Surrey, you will be part of a ‘learning community’.

Your learning community

Being part of a learning community will mean working with others on your course (who will have shared academic goals and interests) and could also involve connecting with others across the wider university. Seeing and making these connections will help you to feel fully part of university life as you start and progress on your course, helping you to explore all the opportunities that are available to you.

Your community will evolve as you become more confident as a learner. This could include knowing when and where to seek study advice or developing other interests by joining clubs and societies.

Key elements of your university learning community

Possible opportunities for you to actively connect with the wider Surrey learning community are:

  • Online or on-campus learning activities
  • Peer learning and supporting other students
  • Course/university roles, for example, your course rep
  • Your personal tutor
  • Module tutors and faculty staff
  • Clubs/societies/volunteering
  • Professional support staff and services.

Consider how you will become an active learner


Communicating, networking, team working and digital engagement


Become an active learner and participate in your learning community


Confidence, resilience, resourcefulness and your university identity and sense of belonging

Four key areas to focus on

Below we explore:

  • What addressing the four areas could look like
  • How this will help you to actively engage with your learning community
  • Why it’s beneficial to develop these skills.

In effect, “the more you put in, the more you get out!”

Key takeaways

Using the suggestions in this guide:

  • Consider how you aim to actively engage and participate within your learning community, in whichever ways you are comfortable, to make the most of your university experience
  • Reflect upon and revisit all the other guides in this series, to see how the information there can help you think about how you can make the most out of your time at Surrey.

If you have read all six guides and contemplated all the suggestions therein, you have already taken some significant steps in what will become for you a unique, valuable and transformative learning journey.

Remember, the more actively you engage with your studies, the more personally rewarding your experience will be!

What next?

We look forward to welcoming you to Surrey and wish you every success in your studies. Visit Academic Skills and Development to see the support for your learning available to you once you start at Surrey.

Get yourself prepared by reading through resources for your chosen subject.