As regular readers will know, this year I’ve thrown myself back into my studies and have just completed my third module with the Open University, meaning that I am now halfway through my degree with them. As I’m thoroughly enjoying it, I thought I’d explain a little more about studying with them and where I think their strengths lie as I share my 5 reasons to study with the Open University.
As with any honours degree, you’ll need 360 credits to make up your degree. As most people study with the Open University part time around jobs and family, it tends to take 6 years to complete a degree with them, taking a module worth 60 credits each year. You can take more, as I know some people study at a full time pace and complete it within 3 years, taking 120 credits per year. I plan to complete mine within 5 years as I intend to take 120 credits in my final year, as my son will start school then freeing up my time. Generally speaking, people complete 120 credits at Level 1 (first year equivalent), then 120 at level 2 before moving onto 120 at level 3, where the majority of the weighting for the overall degree classification lies.
You can apply for courses online, along with student finance if necessary and you qualify. All are easy to register for and there’s always someone at the end of the line to guide you through the process anyway.
So why study with the Open University?
This first one is a bit of a ‘fill the blank’ yourself here. To study at this level will be a personal thing for each of us. Maybe it’s through interest alone, maybe it’s as a hobby, maybe it’s been a desire of yours to gain that degree, maybe you love a certain subject and would enjoy exploring it more, or the obvious one, maybe it’s to further your career prospects. Whichever one it is, whichever one made you click on this post when you spotted the title, don’t ignore it. Consider it. I almost left my studies where they were thinking I had no time for it now, but I decided to give it a shot and I am so, so glad that I did. If you’ve a desire to learn and study again, the Open University could be your answer.
Flexibility for me is key. I can study at home when I have the time to do so. I study around my children and my blog work, I can create my own schedule. I tend to work a few weeks ahead of where I need to be, a little ahead of deadlines, allowing for the little things that inevitably crop up as the parent to two young kids. I work of an evening and on the couple of days that my son is in nursery. Once a module commences, you receive a full view of your academic year enabling you to see when all TMA (tutor marked assignment) deadlines are so you can plan accordingly. It enables me to work ahead allowing for school breaks and I tend to put in a few extra hours in the evenings running up to the holidays. Of course the flip-side is that you need to be self-disciplined to do this, and self-motivated, which brings me nicely on to my next point.
There are so many great modules available, all with clear outlines, guidance and the student reviews are also really helpful. I am registered for an ‘Open’ degree which means I can choose from a huge range of subjects at different levels. My big tip here? Choose a module that interests you, and ideally, you are passionate about. It can be tough to keep yourself going and sticking to all of the deadlines, but studying a subject that genuinely interests you makes it all so much easier. I’ve been studying a history module (A200) which I’ve absolutely loved, so I’ve remained interested over the months and it’s an interest I am happy to read more about, watch more TV shows about, listen to more Podcasts about and so forth. There are plenty of modules to take, so think it through and go for something that you are excited about getting started on. That’s always a good sign!
The courses are distance learning, allowing you all the flexibility that you may need, but that does not mean that you are going it alone. My tutor has been brilliant with feedback on my assignments, running regular tutorials, and for simply being there at the end of a phone or email. There are also online forums so you can connect with other students and gain support and though the options vary from module to module, I was impressed with the one day revision school I attended recently. In addition to support for your module, there are friendly experts at the end of the phone ready to help with module selections, course choices, and explaining pretty much anything you ever want explaining! I’ve phoned them a few times and always get a helpful and friendly person at the end of the line.
The Open University is a top-rated academic institution to learn with, well respected by potential employers. To give you an idea, 75 per cent of the top 100 FTSE companies have sponsored their staff on Open University courses. I think sometimes, perhaps because it’s distance learning or perhaps because you don’t need certain qualifications to study with them, people may not realise how highly thought of Open University qualifications are. Believe me, when you get your degree with the OU, you have definitely earned it.
More and more people are choosing the Open University over more traditional universities, it’s no longer the preserve of the mature student. That said, there are plenty of us studying with them as it is able to fit into any lifestyle. If you’re wanting to find out more, here’s the Open University website and you can also look over my Open University posts to get a feel for my journey.
Embarking on any higher education course can be a big decision, so I’m hoping to have helped or inspired here and do feel free to get in touch with any questions around it – I’ll try my best!