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Academic course starting earlier than advertised - behind already!

(23 Posts)
Sprinklestar Mon 05-Sep-16 21:32:09

That's it really. One year long academic course (think PGCE-style but not teaching). Signed and paid up. Due to start mid-September. I've just had an email from the course tutor with one assignment due next week and another the week after (the advertised course start date).

AIBU to think this is unfair? I feel like I'm behind before I've even started. Kids are barely back in school and I had a couple of weeks to get on top of everything and then get off to a good start. As it is, I'll be scrabbling around to get everything I have planned in done (medical appts, car service etc) and these pieces of work at the same time. There is nothing in any of my paperwork to say the course start date has changed.

So - what should I do? I can hardly go back and refuse to do the work until the course is due to start, but I'm pretty annoyed that having thought I'd got everything planned out well, I'm already in a fix. I could feasibly have been on holiday, had no internet access, anything really. AIBU to think this just isn't right?

CheeseFlavouredDiscs Mon 05-Sep-16 21:34:55

Does this mean that you have been unknowingly missing lectures too then?

ineedamoreadultieradult Mon 05-Sep-16 21:36:56

Do you have a student services type department you can contact and say 'I just wanted to check the dates for these assignments as I was advised the course start date was X as per letter/email dated Y' it could be a mistake with the dates and they actually are not due until the same date the following month etc.

Tiggles Mon 05-Sep-16 21:43:25

That is really odd. Have you enrolled on the course already?

Sprinklestar Mon 05-Sep-16 21:44:23

I haven't missed lectures as it is all distance learning, OU style (though not OU). The message today was from the course leader saying she hoped it would whet everyone's appetite for what was to come... She even refers to the course start date in her message! I think the intention is to get everyone up to speed with using the uni library online, citing sources, referencing etc. We submit our work, it gets reviewed and then we resubmit the following week. I'm just rather surprised that we actually have to start work before the course does. It doesn't seem appropriate somehow. Reading around the subject I can understand and we have a summer reading list (optional). It's good that they're organized I suppose. But the point is surely whatever we are doing now comprises part of the course and should be taken as such, not added in as some kind of prequel. The majority of the people on the course are career changers and mature students, so one would imagine with lives to organize/children/careers and so on. As it is, I work part time but was doing a bit extra until the course began. I just wish they'd been straight from the outset.

Sprinklestar Mon 05-Sep-16 21:45:59

Tiggles - we enrolled last week as per the instructions we were sent. It's very clear that the course doesn't start officially for another fortnight though.

purplefox Mon 05-Sep-16 21:47:28

Is the grade of the assignment going to contribute to your overall course grade?

caroldecker Mon 05-Sep-16 21:49:28

Because many courses like this, people do not do the reading list, have not studied for a while and are not 'ready' to start on the start date. This just forces people to engage.

Sprinklestar Mon 05-Sep-16 21:50:15

Purple - I don't believe so, but I don't know for definite. Do you think I shouldn't do it and only do the work that counts? It's tempting but I'm not really a rebel(!) and don't want to annoy the tutors from the outset. But it is going to be a struggle to get things done this next couple of weeks...

SunnyBanker Mon 05-Sep-16 21:56:33

I do think YABU tbh to feel it's 'unfair'. Dh has just started a one year course - not completely distance learning as he has one full day lecture a month - and similar happened with him.

He received his reading list in July, ready for September start - again, recommended, but technically optional. Then in mid August he had his first assignment through, before the first lecture day in September. It was fairly simple, 1200 words and written journal style - so aimed, I think, at recording his 'self discovery' of the subject so far.

I think things like this are to be expected with an OU type or mainly distance course. Medical appointments, kids school holidays - all of this will be happening over the next 12 months and there will be times where you probably will receive short deadlines. With dh's for instance, if one essay (up to 3000 words a time, to be written within a month) isn't up to scratch, he'll need to amend or re-do that essay over the course of the next month, whilst he's also working on that month's submission and reading.

I can understand why you would be shocked if you weren't expecting it - but with a distance course, the majority is going to be the learner pro-actively putting the effort in. Personally I think this sort of this is a way for thetutors to size up their students and identify those that may struggle and those that are able to meet deadlines.

T0ddlerSlave Mon 05-Sep-16 22:02:34

I'd ask for clarification about whether this is graded or forms the basis of a graded submission.

Hopefully it is to ease you back into the style of writing required for the course and potentially to provide a point of reference for the leader about what level everyone is at. If it's distance learning it's hard to know how capable everyone is without setting an assignment.

If it doesn't 'count' give it a go but don't stress over it, give it only the time you can afford.

Tiggles Mon 05-Sep-16 22:13:07

If it doesn't actually count towards your grade it could be the lecturer being 'nice' for want of a better word, and getting you into writing essays at uni level. It would be very odd to have to hand in assignments that count before the course officially starts.

HeddaLettuce Mon 05-Sep-16 22:16:12

If its a one year course that only really means 8 months, so they can't waste the first month of that teaching you how to use the online resources and submit stuff. They're just getting started so you'll be properly ready to start the course properly on time.

Sprinklestar Mon 05-Sep-16 22:17:12

Thanks for your comments Sunny - maybe this is the standard way of working. I'm more than happy to put the work in, I'm an organized, super-conscientious type, and that's probably why this is annoying me so much 😂 If I'd known I would have needed extra time these two weeks, I would obviously have planned things slightly differently. I do understand what the tutors are doing - it is very much the kind of assignment to test the basics of academic writing etc. However, to expect a start before the course is even due to start still seems unfair to me.

RunningLulu Mon 05-Sep-16 22:18:11

Is it TMA 000? That's a dummy assignment.

Sprinklestar Mon 05-Sep-16 22:22:44

Hedda - I do get that and in and of itself, that's really useful. I just didn't know I'd need to build in time over the coming fortnight for this. I was looking forward to a few days sorting the house, getting stuff planned, a bit of decorating and so on now the kids are finally back in school. Guess I'd better knuckle down and get on instead...

I do wonder about people who are away on holiday and so on this week/next though. There was no expectation on anyone to check emails and so on prior to the course starting so it's all a bit unexpected. We just had to register online last week (essentially use a student number to sign in to the uni homepages). Online resources for this course hadn't been posted yet and were to be added in two weeks' time.

Sprinklestar Mon 05-Sep-16 22:23:47

Running - that doesn't sound familiar, sorry!

RunningLulu Mon 05-Sep-16 22:31:07

Open uni have TMA 000 for all courses to test the online submission system. I have one on my mba course. You don't have to submit.

Sprinklestar Mon 05-Sep-16 22:35:35

Ah - ok. It's not OU but similar. It may well be something of that ilk? I guess that ultimately I'm frustrated that I won't be able to give this task my all and this course has been a long time coming after many years at home as a SAHM. Oh well. So long as I do well in the next assignments!

caroldecker Tue 06-Sep-16 01:04:20

Surely this is a few hours at most, not a fortnight of work? You will struggle on the course if it takes you that long.

Sprinklestar Tue 06-Sep-16 03:24:11

That's a fair point Carol! I hope it's not going to take so long. I wasn't expecting anything during this two week period though and given I had a gap between the kids going back to school and when I thought I'd be starting, I timetabled a lot in on my free days. It's the first time I'll have had my DC all in school all day (woohoo!) and what with P/T work, I'm down to two days, 9-3ish, free X 2 weeks. (P/T work won't be happening during course time.) I wanted them for me, not the course just yet! As a PP said, I'll just have to do the best I can with the time I have. I'd have done things differently if I'd only known.

MidniteScribbler Tue 06-Sep-16 04:06:32

The first part of my first degree was online, and there was always the expectation that you were ready to go by the first day. That means first lot of readings done, started notes for assignments. Not that you would log in at 9am on day 1 and start then. Same goes for any study I've done at a university level. I know it probably seems odd if you're not used to studying, but it does seem to be the general expectation. Just set aside an hour or so a day over the next fortnight and you'll get through it.

Montysaurus Tue 06-Sep-16 04:14:22

I'm doing a face-to-face masters and we had something like this in the week before the start of term. It was useful in that I got used to using the uni systems before I had to and also got my mind into gear before the real work began. Tbh, many people didn't participate. I did, but in a very low-level half-effort way.

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