Tuesday 16 February 2021

Studying with the Open University

I'm stepping aside from fashion, baking, mindfulness and everything else to discuss something I've never really talked about or gone into detail on the blog and that's studying...I know, ew! Hear me out, I don't mean for this to be boring or put you in a cold sweat with flashbacks of school/university but I just wanted to share a little bit about what my uni life looks like. 

I started a part-time degree with the Open University in 2017, studying English Literature and Creative Writing. I left school without A-Levels having managed to get one and half AS-Levels due to 'dropping-out' (makes me sound like the rebel I'm not) early as a result of mental illness and major back surgery. So, I was in a position of not having enough qualifications to get into my originally planned university and not knowing what to do. There were other options like Tech but I knew they wouldn't be right for me. I remember seeing the OU stand at a careers fair and not having a clue what it is until years later when my parents suggested I looked into it. It had exactly the course I wanted and I could do it part-time, allowing me to put myself under less pressure and earn some money as well. So, after a year out from education to take care of my health I started OU. 

I've always been one of those people who never knew what they wanted to do with their life or have a sense of direction - I mean, does anyone?! I did however know that I always loved writing and English Lit was one of my favourite subjects at school so the course seemed perfect. I'm in my fourth year of studying and it has flown by! Like everything in life, there are upsides and downsides to the OU so I'm going to share my thoughts on those. You may have considered doing an OU degree or have always been curious, not really knowing what it is or maybe you're just feeling nosey - whatever the reason, I hope this gives you some helpful insight! 

A part-time degree with the OU takes six years which I know seems like a long time but if you have other things you want to do with your life alongside it's perfect. I work a part-time retail job, a baking business and my blog all while doing my degree. You can do it full-time but it's not recommended - trust me, doing it part-time is enough! For my particular course I do a module a year and have a different tutor for each module. The tutors lead online groups and activities to help with studies but honestly, the module books you receive are enough on their own. The forums are great if you like communicating with other students and tutors but I'm very much a solo learner - I love the fact that you can do what works best for you! The OU holds face-to-face and online tutorials so you can meet your fellow students and enhance your learning. An important point to note if you are considering OU is that you need a heck load of self discipline. You'll mostly be studying on your own, except for the odd email and forum discussion. I have always found to-do lists helpful, to have a clear idea of what I need to get done. The OU also provides a study timeline for each year so you know what you're meant to be doing and when. Overall, I have found the tutors to be very helpful when I have emailed with different queries. 

One of the things I have missed most while doing an OU degree is meeting people. Yes, you can meet a few people at tutorials but you're there so briefly and often there's a huge range of ages which makes it a little more difficult. However, because the rest of it suits me so well it's a small price to pay! I love getting to work at a pace that suits me. Sometimes I'll have more going on in other aspects of my life so I try to work ahead to avoid stress and this also means I can give myself days off or longer holidays if I know I'm ahead. I still have two and a half years to go but I wouldn't have changed any of it. I've learnt so much and have genuinely enjoyed it. I won't go into the details of my specific course too much but if you're interested let me know! 

I would definitely recommend the Open University to anyone considering it. Obviously if you lack self discipline and the idea of solo learning scares you maybe it isn't for you but the freedom, skills and knowledge you can gain out of it makes it so worthwhile! The OU has so many different courses for just about everyone. Please let me know if you have any questions - I don't want to bore anyone with a blog post that's too long! 


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