Can somebody please help me choose a distance learning course? I don't know where to start!

(11 Posts)
mrsnec Fri 05-Oct-12 07:31:01

Hi All,
Firstly this is a bit of a long post. Need to give you a bit of background info if that's ok.
I'm 34. Highest level of education is the HND I came out of uni with. I got A-levels and good GCSEs. 2 years ago we moved abroad. The deal was we'd stay in the UK if I could further my career. I couldn't. I liked my last job but it wasn't well paid and there were no prospects. I was jobhunting all the time I was there and since I've been here so that's 6 years in total. The majority of my career was spent in Marketing, Events, Admin and HR. I also have experience in the Tourism Industry and Retail. Since I've been here though I've even gone for jobs a Hotel Receptionist and lots of shop work as well as jobs in my chosen field but I'm not even getting interviews even though I'm learning the language. I'll also add at this point I've tried online freelancing too and didn't get anywhere with that either.

My DH has a business here. It generates just enough for us to live on. I can help him ocassionaly and do all his admin and accounts. I enjoy this side but not the actual work he does.

We have been ttc for 2 years with no luck. During this time I've also had a business of my own fail too. So I am feeling a little bit hopeless! I read on another thread the other day somebody sugesting distance learning to someone in a similar situation and I thought it was a great idea and could work for me. If I ever get pg, I will be a SAHM but I do need to think about what to do with myself if it doesn't happen don't I? Also, the last new qualification I did, wasn't worth the paper it was written on and I felt I wasted my time so I need something worthwhile. (It was an NVQ in Customer Service) Anyway, here's my dilemma:
1. Do I study for the sake of it just something I'm interested in but that wouldn't neccescarily be useful in a job? (Classics, Creative Writing)
2. Something that would help the business (Business Admin, Book keeping)
3. Something to keep my skills up to date in my chosen field (Events, Marketing)
4.Do I need to go back to basics first? My best friend is that same age as me and has a managerial role within a leisure company and she's just been told she needs to renew her maths and english GCSEs in oredr to progress within her company. (We both got Bs)
5.Learn a skill I may be able to make money from at a later stage (TEFL springs to mind)

It's also worth mentioning that the language here is a difficult and not particularly useful one. I can read it but not speak it and studied 2 other languages too and found instead of learning a new one, learning a language here has just made my skills in the other 2 get worse!

So WWYD? Also, I'm going to have trouble scraping cash together for this anyway probably only a few hundred quids at the most so unfortunately I do need to take cost into consideration. And thanks so much for taking the time to read this!

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Fri 05-Oct-12 07:53:04

Mmm. Tricky. You could start with a free course to dip your toe in? There's some here

I do Open University, but it's bloody expensive and I think even more so if you live abroad. Maybe not so much difference since the UK fee hike.

The OU have some free stuff here as well.

eatyourveg Fri 05-Oct-12 07:57:26

Why don't you try one of these. Run by some of the world's best universities, they are short courses and free so you could look on it as a taster course to see what sort of thing you want to do. Columbia university do a finance one and Stamford, a business one. It is a new thing and at the moment the courses do not attract any credits which can be added to others to make up your degree but they are working on changing that soon. It will however always look good on a CV. Ds is doing one at Pennsylvania State Uni while on a gap year. here is a bbc article about them.

mrsnec Fri 05-Oct-12 08:17:16

I'll have a look at some of those free ones. Thanks very much for the info! I have considered OU before. I know lots of people who have done it and some that are going back for more but I just don't have that kind of money. We even have an English Uni here. UCLAN have just opened a campus about 20 minutes from me but it's E10,000 a year! And I still need to make a choice on what to actualy study. I made bad choices when I first went to Uni and have regretted them all my life.

It was NCC I was looking at briefly yesterday. Anyone got any experiance with them?

mrsnec Fri 05-Oct-12 14:22:40

Shameless bump sorry, can anyone else help?

DonnaW274 Fri 05-Oct-12 16:58:36

I have used DLC a few times for different courses. Pretty good selection and advise and the prices were OK: www.distance-learning-centre.co.uk

I think you need to work on a plan first of all though. Doing a course for interest is fine but don't expect it to help too much if you are looking for employment!

If you want to work then what do you want to be? DLC's advice was pretty good for me on becoming a teaching assistant.

Essentially you need to know what you want to do first and then find the pre-requisites for this job role by researching the job market and then work your way backwards to see what the first pre-requisite qualification is then work your way through getting the other required qualifications. For me there were starter courses which would get a teaching assistant qualification but I required a placement but if a job needs a degree then you could be looking for years of work to get the qualification and then there might be required GCSEs or A Levels that you need first of all to be accepted on the degree course.

Good Luck!! smile

Copthallresident Fri 05-Oct-12 17:26:06

There is so much out there that you can study informally for free as eat your veg has highlighted but if you want a recognised and esteemed qualification then I am not aware of any way of doing it by distance learning cheaply.

However I would add recommending Birkbeck's and Oxford's distance learning courses to OUs. Birkbeck is on a par with traditional universities academically, some great academics work there, and it is and always has been there to enable access. Oxford's Continuing Education Department is also run by a college with a history of widening access and which gives you access to academics who work or worked in other colleges. You could do courses as and when you could afford it and earn CATS points that are interchangable with those earned at OU, Birkbeck and Continuing Education courses at Oxford and other universities so you can accumulate them towards a degree. However they do not count towards a degree in traditional universities, they would without doubt help your application but you would still have to do a three year degree course within one institution.

If you do want to progress with a career in Marketing then the Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications are well regarded, but I doubt cheap. The Market Research Society's, if that is an area of interest, qualifications are similarly well regarded. I had a long career in marketing and have an MBA and these qualifications or a postgraduate degrees from a good Business School are the ones that make a difference to your CV. I have never heard of having to redo your O levels to progress within a company, some help with rusty skills maybe, especially targeted to the needs of a job, but why resit an exam you passed? Whether you got an A or a B in the past is of declining relevence anyway. Bizarre.

slambang Fri 05-Oct-12 17:38:55

Are you planning to stay in that country? If yes, then what qualifications would be recognised or useful there? I can't imagine a B or A in English GCSE will make much difference in a non English speaking country.

What do you enjoy? Could you do TEFL where you are instead of a distance learning course?

TooMuchRain Fri 05-Oct-12 21:36:04

If you are planning on staying in the country where you are then it would probably be better to get a local qualification - it will help with the language too.
Be wary of online TEFL courses, the most useful part of any teacher training course is doing observations and being observed. Good luck smile

mrsnec Sat 06-Oct-12 06:58:45

Thanks for all the advice. I will look at all the courses suggested over the weekend. I do plan on staying here for the forseeable as DH's business is so established. They recognise and respect all UK quals here. Some locals even aspire to give their kids a UK education so am ok on that score but the jobs market here is much worse as are salaries. I think I may discount Marketing. I've been turned down for 3 good Marketing jobs since I've been here. 2 of them wouldn't give me feedback and 1 said I was too old. It feels wrong busting a gut to get back into an industry that doesn't want me anyway. Re other career paths I lack drive ambition and self confidence at the moment I can't even identify my strengths. I'm creative I like travel and languages and also in the past considered careers in interior design and journalism. This whole project is more about taking my focus away from ttc and doing something to stop me from feeling hopeless and unfulfilled. But you've helped me a great deal. Assurance re GCSE retakes is good news and that there's nothing magic that will look great on my CV and get me a job so we have narrowed it down to TEFL or something that interests me. I will find out if I can do TEFL here. Progress that's what I like!

posyplum Tue 23-Oct-12 17:12:34

Hi there, you are probably gone now but in case not, I just wanted to say - are you me?!

Any joy with your course hunt?

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