I never thought I would be 16 and out of education, but I was and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do.
Luckily, my Dad had an idea and within 2 days he had preliminary enrolled me at The Open University. Due to my age paperwork was sent out for my family and I to sign and within a few short weeks I turned 17. It was May 2012, I had no A-Levels and yet I was about to begin a BA (Hons) Business degree. As I recall, I was extremely excited, despite not having a clue.
The OU is fantastic if you change your mind.
After my first year studying Business, I found myself wanting to study English. I put in a request, filled out more paper work and my degree was changed to BA (Hons) Open Degree, which enabled my year of Business to still count towards my qualification. This choice gave me the ability to pick and choose any module from their offering; from beginners French to intermediate Health and Social Care, my options were wide open and this prospect really helped me to study at my interest level each year… I ended up choosing only English focused courses though.
You are alone.
It’s really important to know before you enroll that you will have to motivate and teach yourself. Tutors are an email or phone call away but ultimately you have to be driven to succeed and able to work from home. All of your course material is online or in textbooks, which they post to you and there is a serious amount of reading; online forums and tutor groups are also at your disposal.
Personally, I would rather learn and study alone than in a large class; I have relished in being able to study when and how I like, which ensured I could work and socialize without restriction. A definite bonus to The OU is that you are not restrained by seminars or lectures. The downside is that you don’t experience the typical uni life, something I know many would not want to comprise.
I chose modules that didn’t require exams and so through my 5 year study I never sat one. Every module I studied required an examinable part which was an assignment that counted as 50% of your overall yearly score but you wrote and submitted it like any other essay, it was just independently marked apposed to tutor marked. Of course, some modules did require sitting exams however, if exams aren’t your thing they can be easily avoided through OU study.
Each year, you have the option to study part-time or full-time. Part-time being 60 credits a year, full-time being 120. I did 4 part-time years and 1 full-time. Having the choice was great but ultimately studying part-time was my preference.
Like any other university, there is a student support team to answer any queries you may have. PDF’s of your module books are made available in addition to your hardcopies, which makes keyword search effortless. You also have access to a huge online library. Online activities are integrated into your study but are an aspect I personally didn’t enjoy however, they were useful in implementing concepts.
I did it!
Now that my degree is over, I can confirm that it was a struggle but I can also confirm that The Open University was my perfect choice. It allowed me to rediscover the work ethic Prep School so strongly instilled in me and it enabled me to spend my days at home with my family which is a major priority. I am still awaiting my results however; my degree will be BA (Hons) Open Degree.
The fact that I was able to study my degree sans A-Levels, study at my own pace and at my own interest level was amazing. I would highly recommend it and looking back, I miss it already.