Sunday, 3 February 2013

Is University for me?



When I left college I was set on NOT going to university. The lifestyle, being away from home & debt of it all just didn't appeal to me. But, when I was 21, I was stuck in a horrible dead end job and was determined to make something of myself, so... I started to look into university and applied to study Physical Education at 5 different universities spread across the UK. Due to government cuts, 3 out of 5 of my courses were cancelled so I was left with 2 options: Education studies with P.E. at Liverpool John Moores, or Physical Sport Education at St Mary's University, Twickenham. The thought of living in London excited me so much that I went for the latter & I started in September 2011 - living in halls & experiencing everything I never thought I would be. 

As some of you may know, I had to drop out of university in September 2012 due to the suprising and unexpected news that I was pregnant! Although at the time I was completely gutted as it was going to be the start of my second year at University and I was going to be living independantly with friends in London, I was excited that I was going to be a Mommy! But, as the circumstances changed, I had to re-think my career and the way in which I was going to go about what I wanted to do - which was to be a PE Teacher.

The Open University
Most people have heard about the Open University but if you haven't, here's a little brief on what it involves... 
The OU gives you a chance to get a qualification that will help you develop or change your career. You can learn a subject in depth from the comfort of your own home with the help and support of university staff & tutors. The Open University provides the flexibility, the qualifications and the top-class teaching you need to kick start your career! For most courses you don't need any previous qualifications either as you can start right at the bottom and work your way up, just like you would at a regular college or university. 

Why choose The OU?
If you have completed an amount of time at a regular university, you can apply to receive your credits that you've acheieved from your studies and these can be put towards achieving a futher qualification, like ones through the OU. So, after completing a full year of univeristy studying Physical Sport Education, I obtained 120 credits and although I couldn't continue with this particular course, I looked into The Open University and flicked through their course list to see if there was anything similar to what I wanted to do. There are hundreds of modules / courses to choose from including:

Business and Management
Childhood and Youth
Computing and IT
Education
Health and Social Care
Languages
Law
Psychology and Counselling
Science
Social Sciences


How much does this cost?
As well as the choice of the above you have an option to take on foundation courses or to delve straight into degree style courses (although this isn't recommended if you've never studied at university level before). The OU offers the opportunity to progress onto masters and also PGCE's to, which is what I hope to do! The modules start from £1,250 each, depending on how many credits you wish to study as part of that module or course. A BA honours degree requires you to study 360 credits to obtain a full and recognised degree so this could consist of 6 60 credit modules or 12 30 credit modules or a combination of the two. It may seem like a lot of money but if you have outstanding credits like I did then these count towards it, therefore, I only need to complete a further 240 credits which in the degree I have chosen, is 4 modules. Each module lasts approximately 6 months and like I said, it offers the choice to take it part or full time, depending on your day to day schedule and how much time you have to study. 

I can't afford that!
You may be thinking how will you afford this!? Well.... it works the same as a normal degree would - you apply to student finance for a tuition loan that covers your course fees and the loan gets paid straight to the OU, so you're not tempted to spend it on those shoes you've had your eyes on! You don't start paying this loan back until you're earning over £22,000 annually... so there's no worry as to how you're going to pay it all, just focus on choosing the right pathway for you! You are also entitled to grants and bursaries depending on your individual financial status and whether you have children etc etc.

You can do it!
I think one of the benefits of studying with the OU is the flexibility of it all and also the fact that you can study from your own home. I am expecting my first baby in April and this hasn't put me off studying and achieving what I want to achieve. I really enjoy studying and if anything, I miss the studying part of university most, so with my experience of youth work over the summer, I am looking forward to getting stuck into my 'Childhood & Youth Studies' degree and hopefully getting the job I want in a few years time!

If you want anymore information on The Open University, visit their page here and look at what they offer -

YOUR future is in YOUR hands. Make it the best it can be!