I’m a university drop out. But I’m still a student. I did two years at a brick university and things just weren’t working out, so I left and we moved and I got a job (only part time, but it’s still a paycheck at the end of the month). Then I thought I’d give university another go. But how? I wasn’t earning much and didn’t want to leave my job, and my family was in no position to help support me financially so moving out wasn’t an option. So I did some googling and decided that distance learning was the best path. I signed up for a course, filled in the student finance form and here I am, at the start of my second year of International Studies with The Open University. But what exactly is distance learning?
Basically, a distance learning course is a course which you can study from home. There’s no physical building for you to go to, and you don’t have to sit in a room surrounded by people. There’s been a boom in online courses recently, with websites like Future Learn offering short courses in just about anything. But you can also study full degrees, with institutions like The Open University.
So let’s talk a bit more about The OU. There’s quite a selection of courses available, both undergraduate and postgraduate. If you’ve studied before, there’s even the possibility to transfer credits (if the courses are the same level and a similar subject). The Open University is also cheaper than brick universities, and even though prices are rising everywhere, £6000 is still cheaper than £9000 per year for full time study. But hey, even if £6000 a year is still out of budget, you can go part time. You can take up to 16 years to finish some courses, so time and money can be flexible to fit around what you’ve already got going on.
The OU is designed for people already out in the world who want to get that degree to boost their careers or even change career paths. This was perfect for me, as I already had a part time job with irregular hours so set class times wouldn’t work for me, and I wanted to grow my business so every minute in the day counted. With The Open University, you set your study times. If you work best in the morning, you can get your studying done early on in the day and have the rest of the day for your other commitments. If you’re more of a night owl, you can stay up as late as you’d like to cover the content. If you work odd days, then you simply study the days you’re not working. The main selling point for me was the flexibility. If you need structure, you can set your own schedule, or if you’re like me and need to roll with the punches, you can fit in studying around everything else in your life.
While it is fairly independent, there are still tutors on hand for each module to offer guidance and support whenever you need it. There are also forums on the module website, so you can talk to other students and ask or answer any questions that pop up. This is great because even though you’ll be studying on your own, you don’t feel alone. You know there are other people out there in the exact same boat as you! There’s also weekend classes you can attend if your schedule allows, so you can even meet your fellow students in real life for a study session.
For me, I’m definitely an online course addict. Not just with The Open University, but any free short courses I can access online, about any area that interests me, has been favourited and wishlisted. There’s a whole world of information out there and you can access it all from the comfort of your home. Of course it might not suit everyone, but if it’s something you’ve been thinking about it’s definitely worth having a look into and seeing if there’s a course for you!