The Study Files – Joining the Open University

Many of  my readers will know that I have been studying with the Open University for the last two years. I am working towards a degree in childhood studies in before hopefully completing my teacher training. My first two years I studied part time with the Open University. In October of this year I will begin full time study. I wanted to start sharing more of my study journey on my blog and share some of the tips I have learnt along the way.

Firstly, a little bit of background for any new readers. I am a married mum of three, currently aged 9, 7 and 5, so all now at full time school. I work full time at a school as a teaching assistant. Therefore, when the children are at school I am at school with them. So here are my top tips if you are thinking of joining the OU.

My Top Tips

1- Think carefully about your degree choice. Consider the route that you wish to take when your degree is over, do you need a specific skill to achieve your goals. I know my goal is to become a primary school teacher, this doesn’t need a specialist subject degree like a senior school would, it needs something with a broader scope on children. Therefore, I chose childhood and youth studies. Look at the many options available on the OU, compare the different degrees, I was torn between two options, I ended up choosing based upon the third year module that I want to complete.

The Open University is flexible, its not impossible to change degree routes throughout your study, but its probably best to have a good idea of all of the options.

2- Take a look at the access courses that the OU offer. Have you studied recently? Are you nervous about taking such a big step? The access courses are designed to ease you back in to studying and give you some of the essential study skills you may need. Personally, I didn’t take an access course because I had recently completed qualifications to become a teaching assistant.

3- Take you time. Look at all of the options, you will probably have a good idea of the route you want to take. But then take a few days to think it through. Consider how you will fit everything in. Speak to other people who may have studied before, whether it be at a traditional brick uni or the OU. Ask questions, look at online communities such as the Facebook groups for advice.

4- When you have decided on a course and enrolled in your first module, get planning. Think seriously about your timetable, when will you be fitting in studying each week. For me, my husband works evenings and nights, which means 5 nights a week we don’t see each other. Therefore, I put the kids to bed and I don’t turn on the TV, I sit at the laptop and get to work. It doesn’t need to be 5 long nights a week every week. The OU guide says around 16 hours a week part time and 32 hours a week full time. But for me I found it varies every week. Some weeks I would do a lot less then 16 hours, weeks when I have an essay due I will be working late every night.

To be honest, I am really nervous about increasing to full time study in October. It will be completely new for me and I am worried it will be too much, but I am stubborn. I don’t want to take 6 years to complete my degree, so I will give it my best shot.

5- More planning, what do you need to arrange before the course starts? Do you need to buy anything? Personally, I am a complete stationery hoarder and I just cannot resist buying all of the lovely stationery. Honestly though, all you really need is a notebook for your notes, a pen or pencil and maybe some highlighters. As you start your studying you will find your own ideas and routines. I like the little Post-It sticky tabs, I pop them in the text books at relevant places to help me find information. I use a folder to store printed assignments (Sorry, its not very green of me, but I like a paper copy).


Feeling prepared

Hopefully, my tips will help you with your decision to start studying again. It is a big decision and certainly not one to take lightly, with the costs and time commitments. But hopefully with a little dedication it will all be worth it in the end. Keep a look out for future posts, as I plan to write more about actually starting studying with the Open University. The hurdles I have encountered along the way and why it works so well for me.


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