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Routes to Higher Ed - A Levels or Access course?

(33 Posts)
spacedonkey Sat 22-Jan-05 16:28:06

I would like to start a degree course in september 2006, so have been thinking about doing an Access course starting this September. Does anyone have any experience of doing this, and does anyone know if universities look more favourably on A Levels or Access courses when considering applications from mature students?

amynnixmum Sat 22-Jan-05 16:33:36

Haven't got experience as I did A'levels at 18 and when to uni a couple of years later. Still AFAIK they are happy either way. Why don't you call up the uni you are interested in and ask them what they would prefer. They tend quite flexible with mature students.

Moomina Sat 22-Jan-05 16:34:01

I know lots of people who are doing Access at the moment and many of them seem to be successful in their uni applications. An appropriate Access course seems to be quite well-regarded. What do you want to study?

treacletart Sat 22-Jan-05 16:41:01

It was along time ago but when I did my degree we had an unusually high percentage of mature students.Those who'd done an access course seemed to have about a years head start on everyone else.

lou33 Sat 22-Jan-05 16:48:47

donkey, i need you on msn

spacedonkey Sat 22-Jan-05 17:04:03

I want to do languages and linguistics. Access courses seem to be quite generalised, so I guess I'd need to do a Humanities access course. Good idea to contact some universities and ask them for advice on best method of getting a place, I'll do that!

SenoraPostrophe Sat 22-Jan-05 17:46:25

sd - where were you thinking of?

I think you should take the access - many admissions tutors like them as they encourage students to think more than A levels do. Also for that reason they are more enjoyable (I had to observe/teach both on my teacher training course).

You would be perfect for a linguistics course. Ours had a high dropout rate because people didn't realise that there was an mathsy-type component (Venn diagrams and the like) and couldn't hack it. It would be a breeze for you.

How is your Italian coming on then?

SenoraPostrophe Sat 22-Jan-05 17:48:00

Also there are linguistics access courses, but some are not much cop. Since English Language (as opposed to literture) is not widely available though they don't assume any previous knowledge so a general humanities access course would be fine. A cognitive sciences one might be better though if there is such a thing.

redsky Sat 22-Jan-05 17:48:31

Can recommend Access. Did Humanities 3 years ago, loved the course and great for meeting like-minded mums. Sadly I didnt then go on to university but I know ACCESS has a good reputation for preparing adults for university. Good luck to you!!!

SenoraPostrophe Sat 22-Jan-05 17:49:33

last post should read "english language A level"

spacedonkey Sat 22-Jan-05 18:00:35

ta for the feedback, I must say I like the idea of the access course much more than doing A levels at evening classes

I've always been interested in linguistics, in fact I applied to do a linguistics degree about 12 years ago and was offered a place, but couldn't take it up at the time owing to financial restraints

I know it's quite a dry subject, but I'm a bit of a freak in that I find the science and mechanics of language interesting

I would like to combine it with a study of another language as well though. I have only studied French before (quite rusty but could get up to speed again fairly quickly I think), but I would really like to do Italian. UCL do an Italian and Linguistics degree for which you do not need any prior knowledge of the language (although I would think they'd expect you to be able to demonstrate some sort of facility for languages).

SenoraPostrophe Sat 22-Jan-05 18:04:51

It's not dry, just complicated in places.

If you want me to bore you to tears about why it's such a great subject, just ask.

Did mine at Sussex - the linguistics component was great. They do language-linguistics courses there but not sure about the entry requirements for languages. I would have thought it would be easier for you if you get cracking seriously on the Italian now though even if you don't have to.

I wish I'd waited till i spoke another language well before I studied it. Now my Spanish is (almost) fluent things are a lot clearer to me. I only had rusty french at the time.

SenoraPostrophe Sat 22-Jan-05 18:05:33

Presumably you already have A ;levels then?

in that case you may not need an access course.

spacedonkey Sat 22-Jan-05 18:08:19

Thanks SP, I don't see it as dry, I meant it has a reputation for being a dry subject!

I am learning Italian now, although in a rather haphazard self taught sort of way ... I thought it might be a good idea to do an italian evening class in tandem with the access course over the next academic year.

tamum Sat 22-Jan-05 18:09:59

Sd, I wrote this post to NCMM on a previous thread . Most of it is irrelevant, but I would recommend being very selective about the Access course you choose.

" would say that if you want to do medicine you would have to be absolutely sure that this is what you want. I teach medical students and it is a hellishly hard and intense course. Most universities do now integrate clinical work from very early in the course so you would need to be quite flexible about childcare. I have never come across anyone doing medicine from an access course- I think you're right to be wary of this route TBH. I have lectured to quite a few straight science students who have done access courses when I was in London, and they nearly all struggled with uni in the first year as they really weren't starting from the same level as the A level students. However, this must depend on the access course and on the degree, I realise. "

The time in London I was mentioning was UCL; at the time (15 years ago, mind) there were real problems for these students, but I got the impression that the standard and content varies enormously. Lots of people on the same thread seemed to have had good experiences. I think the advice to contact the relevant uni department and get specific recommendations is excellent. Good luck!

spacedonkey Sat 22-Jan-05 18:10:46

No, I don't have A Levels! I was doing A levels at evening classes (when I was offered the place at Essex to do linguistics which was a conditional offer on the basis that I got grade C or above in the 2 A Levels I was doing), but dropped out and gave up on the whole idea when my personal circs went in a pile of poo (long story, but I've always regretted it).

spacedonkey Sat 22-Jan-05 18:13:19

tamum, I think I'll contact UCL and ask what they think - maybe they can recommend a good access course provider

tamum Sat 22-Jan-05 18:16:00

I'm sure they will- they'll know which students have done what courses in the past. The good thing about UCL is that they always have a high proportion of students who are already resident in London, and who will therefore have done their A levels or Access courses locally, so there should be some relevant experience

SenoraPostrophe Sat 22-Jan-05 18:16:11

don't regret it sd: university is wasted on teenagers anyway. And you may have done a linguistics degree and ended up as a programmer anyway (like me!). I'll go back to it one day - do an Mphil or something.

As tamum says there were a few access students on our course who struggled because they weren't used to academic work (which is why I suggested a cog sciences access course - gets you used to the harder stuff). It was the a level students who dropped out though.

spacedonkey Sat 22-Jan-05 18:23:07

Here's the info on that course:

Italian and Linguistics (UCAS Code RQ31)

This degree is designed for students interested in the theory of language as well as in its practical and historical aspects. The aim of the programme is to provide students with a sound knowledge of Italian language, literature, culture and history, and an understanding of the Italian language from the viewpoint of modern linguistics (i.e. in the context of the phonology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics of natural languages). (All non-language courses in Italian in the first year of the programme are taught in such a way as to be accessible to ab initio students in the language.) Students are encouraged to apply their knowledge of modern linguistic theory to their study of Italian. There is an opportunity to work on Italian dialects both in the second year (in the course on the Italian Language and its Varieties) and in the final year (in the course on Textual Analysis). The Italian Department also offers courses on the Syntax of Italian (second year) and Optimality Theory (final year), one of the most recent developments in theoretical linguistics. Courses in Linguistics in the first year include Introduction to Generative Grammar, Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology, and Logic and Meaning; in later years they include topics such as Philosophy of Language Acquisition, Sociolinguistics, etc. The third year, which is spent in Italy, is an ideal opportunity to deepen knowledge of both disciplines and to follow up areas of Italian linguistic interest.

titchy Sat 22-Jan-05 18:27:36

Might be worth asking if they take mature studnets without formal qualifications - many do. A Levels are only formally required for studnets aged under 21. If so maybe you could start this September rather than next, and thus avoid the £3000 a year top up fees (fees for students starting in September 05 will be fixed at £1175 a year).

spacedonkey Sat 22-Jan-05 18:29:56

good point titchy, i'll ask them when i ring

spacedonkey Sat 22-Jan-05 18:30:47

although I would prefer to do the Access course as it's years since I did any formal study

spacedonkey Sat 22-Jan-05 18:37:10

the year spent in italy sounds particularly cool

SofiaAmes Sat 22-Jan-05 19:55:07

My dh is doing an access course. He hasn't had any formal education since the age of 12 and he's now 41. He LOVES it. I think that the access course is really geared at older students and if you aren't 16, it will really be the best way to go. Dh has already been offered a place at university in a course that 's taught at the college where he's doing the access course, but at uni level (I think that's how it works). I think the classes are a little less organized than a-level courses would be, but in return, they seem to be very understanding of dh's personal commitments (ie kids are sick, can't come in today) and the teachers LOVE the older students because they are so much more dedicated and serious than the younger ones. And the course head is really helpful when there are subjects that dh is behind in because of his age (ie didn't know how to turn on a computer when he started...so they offered him free extra computer lessons to catch up with the rest of the class).

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