I think I made a mistake going back to university

(17 Posts)
iheartshoes Tue 19-Mar-13 13:17:08

The OU does some really interesting sciencey based courses which might be of interest ? They might let you transfer any credits you've gained as well. I am halfway through my degree with them and the teaching and materials are brilliant, (much better than when I attended a "proper" Uni a few years ago) also really good online forums for discussing the modules . I have a tutorial once a month I go to and my tutor is always available if I need to chat things through. I'd say its definitely worth giving them a call just to see if they could suggest anything .

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 19-Mar-13 13:07:18

It may be that they have a plan they haven't shared with me, but it would have been polite for them to let me know as they can see how bored I'm getting - and I'm communicating my worries to them.

The material isn't particularly taxing but is expanding on the subject we covered in semester one rather than making sure we understand what we need to in order to start the next semester's work. It doesn't look like we can make up the material we still have to cover before the end of the semester.

There isn't anywhere local that does the same course (and I won't have done what is on the syllabus anyway so will be behind where they say I am), and the OU doesn't do sports science either. What a pickle.

Note: my programme team do all sorts of things that the students find bizarre, but we do have our reasons (and we have thought them through). We usually try to explain our reasoning to the students, but sometimes we do need to change things around and introduce unexpected things.

Oh. Spending more than half the semester on revision would be unusual. I take it that only students on your degree programme take your modules?

It may be that your programme team have decided that your cohort need the revision and will make up all the work later. Is the material very fundamental to the point where nothing else will make sense if you don't understand it?

If so, the staff probably have some sort of plan that they haven't communicated to you.

It may be worth considering whether you do want to transfer elsewhere, as it doesn't sound like you're getting the kind of experience you's hoped for. Does anywhere else locally do a similar course?

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 19-Mar-13 12:48:06

Yes am in London.

Januarymadness Tue 19-Mar-13 12:46:23

Are you in London?

Stick with it (or look to transfer) dont give up completely. If this is a full time course predominantly aimed at students straight out of school my experience suggests first year work is purposly easy as a kind of settle into uni life thing. It also makes dropping out in later years harder as you are more invested (cynical!) Second and third years are progressively harder.

Having said the above lecturers being wrong about the basics is not on at all.

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 19-Mar-13 12:38:49

We're in week 8 of 12.

You have a personal tutor for pastoral care and administrative reasons really. My group meetings each semester are supposed to be about generic skills or something else important to the students. Individual meetings are to check they're OK and aren't having any problems. I also deal with paperwork surrounding extensions, special circumstances, absence, non-submitted work, etc. Personal tutor is (I think) a bit of a misleading term. I'm really the students' contact person for issues.

How far through the semester are you? (This matters as not having covered any of the syllabus is much more problematic in week 9 of 11 than it is in week 3 of 11). You should be told what equipment you need for each class. I don't see how anyone could justify not doing so. If I'd forgotten to tell the students that they need a particular bit of equipment for a class, I'd be really apologetic and would adjust what I was doing accordingly.

It's worth asking why you're having 3 hour classes on study skills type stuff. That's the sort of thing that can be added in as 20 minutes of a longer class etc. It would make a very dull 3 hours. Similarly going over material from another module is odd. The whole point of having modules is that you divide up the content. If any students haven't sufficiently grasped the material in the first module, the should be resitting it. If most of the students haven't been able to pass, then the module leader and programme leader have some investigating to do, because something has gone dreadfully wrong at some point. It isn't really sensible to colonise another module with material from another, because then you're just perpetuating the issue.

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 19-Mar-13 12:19:15

kelda - no we're doing four modules, sorry I wasn't clear. We have one session per module per week.

Arbitrary - thank you for the view from the "other side" - I see your point about other students needing the lessons (if their comments on facebook are anything to go by you're entirely on the money). I am as confused as you with the exams, it's just not good enough to not have them back a whole term after you've sat them.

When classes have been cut short we haven't been notified - we also haven't been notified of particular equipment to bring on occasion (eg if we're doing something in the lab), which I don't think is on. Also if I've asked why things have been cut short I've either had apologies (which I don't need) or defensive comments, when all I want is to know in advance that we have a shortened lecture so I can bring all my stuff to campus and work in my break.

We have been given a syllabus for each subject, broken down week by week. I appreciate that sometimes the sessions will be swapped around, but in one module we only started semester two's material last week. Nothing we have done since January is on the syllabus for semester one or two. That's not to say we've done nothing, but we haven't really moved forward - we were, on one occasion, given group work to do a presentation and there has only been one group presentation so far - the rest of the class have "got away" with not doing it. It strikes me as very disorganised.

The thing with the tutor is probably a hangover from my previous university experience, but to not see them/have contact with them ever begs the question of why we have them.

I'm struggling to see the value I'm getting from being there.

To be fair, from the other side, sometimes lectures about punctuation etc are Very Much what a cohort needs. You haven't seen the general quality of work submitted to the lecturers.

Your exam should have been marked by now. It's very odd that it hasn't. Turnaround times and feedback are Very Big Issues in universities because they're an important part of the NSS scores. We have to have all our marking done (with feedback reports - although for multiple choice, it should just be a mark) within 2 weeks, across the entire university. That's not unusual in the HE sector.

Don't panic about the 100% in an oral. 100% is supposed to be the most that you could reasonably expect from a student working at a particular level. In first year, they may well expect some mistakes.

The standard of teaching doesn't sound great though. It sounds a bit disorganised (to say the least). I wouldn't simply lecture for 3 hours. It would be pointless. There should be interactive activities and all sorts in that time. My modules don't have lectures, tutorials or seminars; I just have class times during which there will be some mix of me talking to the students, the students talking to each other and the students presenting to each other. They're given materials to prepare for every class and should arrive prepared for the (pre-publicised) activities.

I also wouldn't cut a 3 hour class down to 30 minutes without good reason. And I'd explain those reasons to the students because I'd expect them to complain about reducing class time so much. I'd also make sure I covered the material in the course syllabus. Did you get a syllabus at the start of the module? Sometimes you do need to change things around a bit, and perhaps add in additional support in places, but lecturers still need to teach you the material necessary for you to achieve the learning objectives.

It might be worth speaking to your personal tutor about some of your concerns. You're unlikely to get a weekly personal tutor session as your personal tutor probably doesn't have time in his/her workload for that (I see my personal tutees individually once a semester, as a group once a semester and when they request an appointment).

If you are really not happy, you might want to consider transferring some of our credits to another university where the teaching styles etc are more in line with your expectations.

kelda Tue 19-Mar-13 12:06:54

There should be some sort of student advice bureau at the univeristy. ARe you really doing just one module per semester? Is the course supposed to be part time?

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 19-Mar-13 12:00:58

I have sent an email and had a two line response in return (almost immediately) which makes me think he's not really taking my concerns seriously.

The big issue is I'm not working particularly hard and am still coming out with a first so far - which makes it, to me, not worthy of a first. It should be harder than this, surely. (am definitely being a moaning minnie now).

MrsHoarder Tue 19-Mar-13 11:48:23

I'm doing a masters degree rather than an undergrad, but my tutor expects me to go to him if I want to discuss any academic issues. Try sending him an email or just going and knocking on his door to talk about things and whether he feels its worth you continuing next year/if there is a suitable course to transfer onto.

Also consider that if you are much harder working than your fellow students you have a decent chance of coming out with a first, which could be useful in the future.

ScreamingFoxtrots Tue 19-Mar-13 11:29:03

Thank you for your responses.

Snuppeline - I didn't go into this with a job in mind, I just wanted to study something I'm interested in. I'm more into the academic side of things, and probably wouldn't go for a sports-related job unless it was in research, but don't expect that my degree will help me get there as it's terrible!

MintVelvet - that's a good point. No, the rest of the class aren't like me at all (though I've only met the 25% or so who attend lectures) and they don't seem to have the same aims as me. I think most of them are treating it as "the thing you do before you get a job".

It's not worthwhile being there - I feel like I'm being dragged down to the lowest common denominator, rather than encouraged to be the best. Time to go back to the drawing board methinks.

MintVelvet1937 Tue 19-Mar-13 10:11:40

the course sounds rubbish.
Look around you, who are the sort of people doing the course? are they like you with similar aims? If not, then you are probably in the wrong place. Going back to uni is never a bad idea, but the course you choose needs to be worthwhile. Explore your options re changing what you are studying

Snuppeline Mon 18-Mar-13 14:16:08

Sorry you aren't enjoying your course. I would recommend contacting student services and see if you can swap courses. If you can't the. Just try to make the most out of it. I presume you want a career in a sports-related area? I'm sure the course will support you I that but perhaps look into working in the sports centre or something similar to beef up your CV and challenge you. Or sit in on lectures of other courses such as anatomy. Good luck!

ScreamingFoxtrots Mon 18-Mar-13 14:00:11

But I don't want to make another mistake in dropping out. Can anyone tell me whether I'm being ridiculous or whether my concerns are well grounded.

I'm doing a sports science course, which I appreciate might not attract the most academic people, but I do expect to be challenged, even a little bit would be nice, and I don't feel that I am.

The teaching seems a bit rubbish, tbh. Our timetable is one session per week, per module, which is timetabled for 3 hours. Sometimes this will be 3 hours of being lectured, sometimes it's more interactive. There are no seminars or tutorials. Often the timetabled sessions are cut short - sometimes to just half an hour, and then we're told to use the rest of our time "constructively" - which is much easier if you have the opportunity to plan your time rather than have a 3 hour break in the middle of the day, on campus, sprung on you.

The standard of teaching isn't great, one of our lecturers makes mistakes on his handouts (eg saying metatarsals are in the hand) and misspells or misprononounces a lot of anatomical stuff, so much of the class are now making the same mistakes.

In another module we are only just starting what we're supposed to cover in semester 2, in spite of being seven weeks into it! We've just done short lectures expanding on semester 1 (marking time effectively) since the semester started.

In one of our courses two recent lectures have covered the use of commas and where to use capital letters. My 8yo nephew is doing this at present.

I haven't met my tutor since our introduction day, whereas when I was at university as a teenager we had weekly scheduled meetings.

Our semester 1 exams (all multiple choice) haven't been marked yet - we took them in January.

Most of the other students don't care, now this doesn't bother me much, but I was told off for being engaged in class a couple of weeks ago - but I'm the only one engaged so if the chap wants answers to his questions he has to expect them to come from me!

I'm doing really well in the stuff we've had marked (aside from one module we haven't had returned, I have passed the year by doing well enough in semester 1) but don't feel challenged. I was also given 100% in an oral where I know I made a mistake, so know I didn't deserve it and it has kind of demotivated me.

Gosh, this is turning out to be long, but it's nearly over. Looking at it with the view that this is costing me £27,000, makes me think it isn't worth it. I'm not even sure why I started the course - I stopped working after a breakdown some years ago and felt I had to do "something" and this seemed like it would be interesting and challenging, and it isn't. I'm only in the first year, so I wonder if it'll get more interesting or difficult in the 2nd and 3rd years, but seeing as the standard is so low and the target is to get 80% of the class through to the second year I have my doubts.

Do I sound like a moaning Minnie or is it reasonable to be concerned? I worry about raising these concerns at the university as the target and the fees issue has made me think that the advice I get won't be in my best interests.

Am I being a dickhead for thinking of leaving? I have no idea what I'd do instead.

Sorry for the epic post.

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