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Im 29, 2 children, never been to uni and want to study. Access course or Open University?

(15 Posts)
Dillinger Mon 18-Jul-11 13:35:42

Ive reached a point in my life where I feel Im hopefully gaining enough confidence to want to change my life and achieve things, maybe even obtain a career! Long story short - shit upbringing, no self confidence or self esteem, didnt 'try' regarding study as I didnt think I would ever amount to anything.

One job I had that I really enjoyed was working in a care home and I seem to be pulled towards studying to gain employment in the care/social sector, possibly regarding mental health.

Im aware that I dont have the qualifications to just apply for university next year, which would mean that I would have to consider applying to do an access course but I have heard good and bad things about these. Also I gather that doing this over a year would be possibly more hard work/more difficult (also that dd starts school next year, so I have her to consider whilst studying over the year) than finding somewhere that would do it part time over two years.

So I also know that the Open University is an option - I wouldnt have to do an access course but start with one of the level 1 courses. (Incidentally I started an OU course about 6 years ago but unfortunately dropped out for various reasons - I feel Im in a better, more positive position now) I know this would still mean a lot of hard work but Im attracted by studying in my own time - not having to worry about school pickups etc (no family etc nearby to help.) Im concerned about not having the 'classroom' type support as often as you'd get going to lectures, but I know that there would be classes to attend to get together with other students.

I would really like to read any advice or opinions from anyone who would like to comment, I feel like Im floudering about at the moment and very aware that I would ideally be enrolling on something shortly.

Thanks in advance

Dillinger Mon 18-Jul-11 14:39:21

I must admit that the Open University is looking the more attractive of my options at the moment, especially when it would come to fitting in study. I guess its a case of really going for it, Ive read on various forums of others sense of achievement after getting a degree and its something Id really like to do, no one in my family has ever gone on to further education and maybe that was why I never thought of it as an option for me.

ramade Mon 18-Jul-11 14:39:45

It doesn't sound like it would be catastrophic if you picked ether. I think, confidence comes from making your own decisions. Go for it Dillinger! Decide which one is best for you. Don't look back, just use your new found energy to make a go of it and follow it through to the end. Good luck smile

Dillinger Mon 18-Jul-11 16:11:31

Thankyou ramade smile

At the moment Im thinking either social care or psychology. They both sound interesting! Anyone have any experience studying these?

BlackandGold Mon 18-Jul-11 21:27:16

Why not try an OU Openings course? They are 10 points and would give you an idea of the level of study required.

A 60 point course can be very hard going if you've no recent study experience.

BerylOfLaughs Mon 18-Jul-11 21:32:48

I'm studying with the OU at the moment. I'm changing my first degree. I haven't done any level 1 courses, just 2 and 3. They are great, packed with information and I'm sure there will be huge sense of satisfaction when I finish. Make no mistake about the level of work though, I found level 2 fine but level 3 incredibly hard going. I honestly don't know if I will pass. Definitely worth a shot though.

Dillinger Tue 19-Jul-11 10:19:34

Thankyou both, I appreciate your answers. Ive got a little time left to think things through further thankfully! confused

TinyDiamond Wed 20-Jul-11 21:36:15

If you are considering OU I would urge you to look into it sooner rather than later as today they have just released information regarding the fees that they will charge from next year. Don't mean to scare you but they will be charging £2500 for a 60 point course and it is unlikely that financial support will be available, everyone will have to take out a student loan.
IF you were to register for a course now you may bypass the fee hikes and possibly be able to pay the current lower fees. Please don't take my word for this but go and check out

Dillinger Thu 21-Jul-11 19:40:37

TinyDiamond - thankyou very much for your post, that information is good to know. Ive done a bit of a u-turn and registered my interest in an access course at my local college, Im hoping to go to an information day next month to find out more. Thanks again smile

Divawithattitude Thu 28-Jul-11 16:54:15

Most Access courses are designed to fit around commitments for carers. The benefit is they lead you very gently back into study, looking at study skills, maths and english, and some of the units can be achieved at Level 2 (top grade GCSE level) when you are starting. Also the idea of studying with others who have the same pressures and doubts about themselves that you do can be very helpful as a mutual support system.

glendathegoodwitch Mon 01-Aug-11 17:27:10

I'm starting an access course in september after dropping out of a distance learning course - I couldnt justify spending money on nursery fees so i had time at home to study, but found that wehn i tried to study with kids and other half at home i ended up coming away from text books to sort tea out or bath kids and also its very isolating doing it home with no one else to bounce ideas off or to confirm what is required.

access course is specifically for people returning to education after a reasonable break and breaks you in gently and as everyone is in the same boat its quite good at building confidence too - i started a 2yr access course 2 years ago and made some amazing friends and found a whole new social life (revolving around the pub like proper students lol)

good luck with your course choice just remember to be a little bit selfish and get oh to do more around the house when you need study time!!!!

if you need a study buddy i'll give you my fb or email address and we can nervously start together??

SayCoolNowSayWhip Wed 03-Aug-11 18:19:16

I did an Access course last year in preparation for a degree this September (which is a whole other thread) and it was very helpful. The class was incredibly varied; I think the oldest person was in her fifties and the youngest 22. As others have said, very gentle approach to learning but still worth the credits. Good luck, hope it goes well for you. Feel free to PM me if you want any more info on it.

VirgoGrr Wed 03-Aug-11 18:30:37

Have you had a look at the requirements for your chosen degree? I have just finished a foundation degree, for which my university accepted me with good GCSEs and lots of (not very relevant) work experience.

It may not be an absolute that you need to do an access course. If you write a convincing personal statement and have a passion for the study area/get invited for an interview, you may be able to skip this stage.

OU sounded like a very protracted process to me (and expensive) so I decided to go for full on university and have enjoyed it immensely. Made lots of new friends and the peer group support is invaluable when you've been out of study for a long time.

SuburbanDream Wed 03-Aug-11 18:37:47

I can definitely recommend the OU, I started my first course whenDS1 was 4 weeks old (didn't plan it that way!), did the recommended part-time study (ie it takes 6 years not 3 to get your degree) and finally got a 2.1 having had another DS in the meantime smile It was the only way I could realistically study as DH works long hours and I couldn't get to any evening courses on a regular basis. I had regular contact with my tutors on each course, by phone or email and attended weekly/monthly saturday morning tutorials. There are also internet forums for many courses so you can discuss things with other students on line. I'd recommend doing a level 1 course first, I then I did 2 at level 2 and 3 at level 3 IIRC

SuePurblybilt Wed 03-Aug-11 18:38:14

I did an access course ages ago as I dropped out of A Levels (misspent youth) but lots of people on my degree didn't - they started straight in year one of a Foundation degree and topped it up to a BA or BAHons. There is a foundation degree in Health and Social Care. Some of those people had no a levels, did badly at school and were given lots of support and help in writing, research and study skills.

You will get full student status on a foundation degree (and in year 3 to top up) so all the funding and discounts - I don't think you do with the OU. I did my degree working PT and with a child, friends had babies in the middle, two or three children, worked FT - it's perfectly possible with some degrees.
Student funding may also contribute towards childcare.

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