13th March, 15:25
Hope you’re all having a great week so far. I’m now dropping down to 1 blog post a week, which will be live every Wednesday. Things are getting pretty hectic now with Beyond, family/friends life and being in the last leg of University – which is what today’s post is all about! If you’re thinking of distance learning, or just have an interest in it or my own experience, this one’s right up your street.
So, for those of you who don’t know, I’ve been studying with The Open University since October 2016. The OU offers diplomas, higher education certificates, degrees, Masters and more, all through distance learning. This basically means that all the lectures/classes you would normally attend in person at a brick uni, are done online or regionally throughout the year. I’m pretty lucky as I’m close to Milton Keynes, where the OU is based, so the day schools/evening tutorials are often held there and very easy for me to get to. You get given all the resources etc that you’d be given at a brick university, are allocated a tutor, and submit assignments/do exams in very much the same way.
I’m on the English Literature and Creative Writing pathway, giving me a BA at the end (all being well, this summer!) and I picked this degree pretty easily via the website. There aren’t a huge amount of variations of English, plus I love creative writing (obviously) so this was a win-win for me.
You select the modules as you go along with the OU; first I chose Arts Past & Present and Design Thinking. Pretty random, you’re thinking? There are no specific English level 1 modules to choose from – well, there might be now, there wasn’t then – so this left me with a generic humanities choice and then my pick from a few others. I chose Design to try something different, really, and work through a less essay-based module for a change. They were both great; level 1 with the OU is designed to ease you into degree-level study, and though it advises you’ll spend 32 hours a week studying, you really don’t with level 1. Even though the modules and content were great, I has 2 pretty crap tutors to be honest. I found them very unapproachable and not massively helpful whenever I asked questions – they made me feel like I was almost an inconvenience. TIP for current students: if you have a negative experience with a tutor, make student support aware and follow this up! Nothing will get done otherwise.
Anyway, then I took Literature and Creative Writing as my level 2 choices and found this a pretty big step up from level 1. I know it’s expected to read a lot when studying literature but seriously you read loads. Creative Writing was more easy-going, though I did find – as with any writing course – that the marking will be somewhat subjective. Level 2 lit was the only module I’ve had with an exam in the end: we went to Milton Keynes campus for this, and it was 3 hours long. They somehow managed to cock up a poem extract for Q1 which threw everyone off, but thankfully we were given the chance to alert this to the support team before the papers were marked, so it was taken into consideration. Not quite sure how you copy and paste a sonnet wrong, but there you go…
And yes, now I’m in my final year and studying Advanced Creative Writing and Literature in Transition. I love them both but they’re soo hard. This year I really am doing around 32 hours of uni work a week, which has been a struggle at points (I work 35 hours and have been writing a book, in case you didn’t notice!) but well worth it. Don’t get me wrong, hats off to everyone doing it the part time way, but I just couldn’t wait six years to get my degree.
Overall, my experience has been positive. Other than my level 1 tutors, the rest of them, and the student support team, have been so helpful and encouraging. There are plenty of opportunities to meet other students through social events, forums and online groups, and though obviously you do most work independently, there’s a decent amount of online/face to face tutorials (though these have decreased due to cuts). Taking this distance learning route allowed me to live at home, work and save money all alongside studying! In this light, I really would suggest the OU to anyone looking to keep climbing their employment ladder/spend time with their family/keep up with other commitments all alongside gaining qualifications.
If you want to know more visit: http://www.open.ac.uk/