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    Hello Mature TSRers!

    This is my first post on here, please be gentle!

    So guys, I've beaten the odds and reached the grand old age of 20, indeed I'm approaching the venerable age of 21 this coming August. I'm sure it's not a surprise to any of you that, faced with the last decade of my life worth living, I've decided that I really ought to revisit the academic side of life before it's too late.

    I suppose at this point it'd be an idea to share a snippet of my life story with you all. Sadly I cannot promise any car chases or explosions but the context (whilst slightly drab) may help.

    Hopefully the excessively verbose and inarticulate rambling which follows doesn't cause anyone's eyes to hemorrhage too severely.

    I finished High School in the summer of 2008 with respectable GCSEs (above C!) in everything except French and progressed onto my A Levels in the September of that year. The subjects I decided to study in my first year of Sixth Form were Law, English Literature, History, and Business Studies. After the first year I dropped Law (AS Level: C). Furthermore, in General Studies (which was compulsory at my A Level College) I attained a B at A Level. In Upper Sixth I attained a rather mixed bag of results precisely because I failed to show due diligence towards my subjects - particularly the History Coursework. Not that I seek to excuse my own failings I did also come down with a bad case of lingering gastroenteritis in the run up to the summer exams that did exasperate circumstances! Alas socially awkward intestinal afflictions to one side when all things were said and done I had: a B in English Literature*, a C in Business Studies, and a D in History.

    After that I decided to abstain from heading into anything rashly and headed into the world of gainful employment. First I found work in a 1 year (March 2011 - March 2012) paid internship at an online retailer as a Content Editor/Writer. Disappointingly a full time position in the Content Department was not available so I moved on. After this I had a glorious spell of unemployment where for over 3 months I was stuck on the government teat of JSA and basked in the sterile glow of daytime television and job websites. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and since July 2012 I once again have found myself being an ostensibly productive member of society. This is to say that I now work in the office of a relatively small business as a "Design & Marketing Administrator" but as I'm sure anyone who has experience of such a work environment can testify you end up doing a bit of everything. I don't dislike my job but it's not something I'd want to be doing for more than a few years.

    I like to think of myself as relatively intelligent, thoughtful, and articulate individual but I concede that I'm perhaps not as academic as others; or at least as is apparent I was not in the past. However, older and hopefully wiser I am keen to get back in the saddle with a view towards going to University to study History ironically because despite my sub-par grade it really is an enormous passion of mine. I suppose the basic question I'm asking is how ought I proceed?

    I've tentatively examined resitting my A Levels but unfortunately it isn't as easy as it might be: tragically my old Sixth Form College doesn't accept external candidates!

    That inconvenience to one side with regards to History (which had an element of Coursework) it seems I cannot redo this? If so my lackluster performance on this module (an E I think!) would be dragging me down. For these reasons part of me is quite tempted by the idea of a "fresh" start - where the mistakes of the past wouldn't loom over me. However Access Courses seem an ill fit too given my age/past - that's without even mentioning the expense or rather dim view many institutions (unfairly!) seem to hold them in.

    I'm unsure if there are any other alternatives?

    I really do hope you had some fun reading this (I certainly had fun writing it) and more importantly I appreciate and am thankful in advance all the assistance that is no doubt about to fall upon me.

    Goose

    TLDR:

    What do you think would be the most appropriate way for me to get back on the education ladder.

    *Although hypothetically in Eng Lit I was on track for an A if I did well in the final exam. However, as you might have noticed, I'm susceptible to rambling and whilst what I did write was good I didn't hit enough different points so I got a D on the final module.
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    Your college doesn't accept external candidates, but that shouldn't stop you from improving your History A-level grade at a college that does. You can either ring up local colleges to find out if they accept external candidates to sit exams there, or ring up your exam board and they can tell you where the nearest ones to you are. All you need is a centre that allows you to sit the exams in the summer/january and one that is willing to mark your coursework. I.e don't worry if it's not local.

    And btw, that message was unnecessarily long! Have you considered writing articles/working in the media? That's a serious question.
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    (Original post by GooseSpringsteen)
    Hello Mature TSRers!

    This is my first post on here, please be gentle!

    So guys, I've beaten the odds and reached the grand old age of 20, indeed I'm approaching the venerable age of 21 this coming August. I'm sure it's not a surprise to any of you that, faced with the last decade of my life worth living, I've decided that I really ought to revisit the academic side of life before it's too late.

    I suppose at this point it'd be an idea to share a snippet of my life story with you all. Sadly I cannot promise any car chases or explosions but the context (whilst slightly drab) may help.

    Hopefully the excessively verbose and inarticulate rambling which follows doesn't cause anyone's eyes to hemorrhage too severely.

    I finished High School in the summer of 2008 with respectable GCSEs (above C!) in everything except French and progressed onto my A Levels in the September of that year. The subjects I decided to study in my first year of Sixth Form were Law, English Literature, History, and Business Studies. After the first year I dropped Law (AS Level: C). Furthermore, in General Studies (which was compulsory at my A Level College) I attained a B at A Level. In Upper Sixth I attained a rather mixed bag of results precisely because I failed to show due diligence towards my subjects - particularly the History Coursework. Not that I seek to excuse my own failings I did also come down with a bad case of lingering gastroenteritis in the run up to the summer exams that did exasperate circumstances! Alas socially awkward intestinal afflictions to one side when all things were said and done I had: a B in English Literature*, a C in Business Studies, and a D in History.

    After that I decided to abstain from heading into anything rashly and headed into the world of gainful employment. First I found work in a 1 year (March 2011 - March 2012) paid internship at an online retailer as a Content Editor/Writer. Disappointingly a full time position in the Content Department was not available so I moved on. After this I had a glorious spell of unemployment where for over 3 months I was stuck on the government teat of JSA and basked in the sterile glow of daytime television and job websites. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and since July 2012 I once again have found myself being an ostensibly productive member of society. This is to say that I now work in the office of a relatively small business as a "Design & Marketing Administrator" but as I'm sure anyone who has experience of such a work environment can testify you end up doing a bit of everything. I don't dislike my job but it's not something I'd want to be doing for more than a few years.

    I like to think of myself as relatively intelligent, thoughtful, and articulate individual but I concede that I'm perhaps not as academic as others; or at least as is apparent I was not in the past. However, older and hopefully wiser I am keen to get back in the saddle with a view towards going to University to study History ironically because despite my sub-par grade it really is an enormous passion of mine. I suppose the basic question I'm asking is how ought I proceed?

    I've tentatively examined resitting my A Levels but unfortunately it isn't as easy as it might be: tragically my old Sixth Form College doesn't accept external candidates!

    That inconvenience to one side with regards to History (which had an element of Coursework) it seems I cannot redo this? If so my lackluster performance on this module (an E I think!) would be dragging me down. For these reasons part of me is quite tempted by the idea of a "fresh" start - where the mistakes of the past wouldn't loom over me. However Access Courses seem an ill fit too given my age/past - that's without even mentioning the expense or rather dim view many institutions (unfairly!) seem to hold them in.

    I'm unsure if there are any other alternatives?

    I really do hope you had some fun reading this (I certainly had fun writing it) and more importantly I appreciate and am thankful in advance all the assistance that is no doubt about to fall upon me.

    Goose

    TLDR:

    What do you think would be the most appropriate way for me to get back on the education ladder.

    *Although hypothetically in Eng Lit I was on track for an A if I did well in the final exam. However, as you might have noticed, I'm susceptible to rambling and whilst what I did write was good I didn't hit enough different points so I got a D on the final module.
    My brain hurts after that. I'd find out what other exam centres there are in your area. I agree Access isn't really the way to go. Don't forget that exams will only be held in Summer now. Also you may not be able to find exam centres in your area with the same exam boards for each subject. You may also not be able to actually retake but may have to start from scratch. I think if you call the exam boards that your subjects were on then they would be able to tell you whether it actually is possible to resit or if you have to start all over again. I am also 20 however doing my A2 year right now.
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    TSR Support Team
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    The way I see it you have four options:

    - Redo two A levels (there's no need to redo English Lit, a B is fine). It is possible to study at home, and you might even be able to do both in one year if you worked very hard and were extremely organised. I'm sure you can find a school somewhere that would be willing to take you as an external candidate. Is going back to college to redo them a possibility?

    - Do an access course. These are quite expensive and very intensive but they are a good option for people in your situation. I don't know why you think universities take a dim view of them, they don't - access courses are well regarded by most universities, including Oxbridge.

    - Do a foundation year. Not many universities do these, but I know Durham does - they might take you even with your A level grades.

    - Do an Open University course, this is expensive and a bit of a risk because not all universities accept OU courses instead of A levels (although a lot do).

    If I were you I would probably do an access course.

    (Original post by Gummibaerchen)
    I agree Access isn't really the way to go.
    Why not? :hmmmm2:
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    (Original post by Samual)
    Why not? :hmmmm2:
    I'd choose resitting a few units over access because resitting is cheaper, less time consuming, you've already covered the subject so it's just a case of going over it all again, not learning from scratch, and you don't have to turn up to lessons etc. You learn in your own time at your own pace. EDIT: unless the plan is to go back to college for lessons on these units, which I doubt would be the case.
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    (Original post by Gummibaerchen)
    I'd choose resitting a few units over access because resitting is cheaper, less time consuming, you've already covered the subject so it's just a case of going over it all again, not learning from scratch, and you don't have to turn up to lessons etc. You learn in your own time at your own pace. EDIT: unless the plan is to go back to college for lessons on these units, which I doubt would be the case.
    I agree with you, but bare in mind you're no longer allowed to retake individual units - this year is the last you're able to. However, I still think re-sitting the entire a-level or As or A2 is a better option than an access course. Self-teaching an a-level is more attractive than an access course to universities, and it means this person will be able to keep their job!
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    If you apply to uni at 21 or above, you're a mature student and entry requirements are more flexible. Some will ask for Access, some for Foundation, some will look more at A Level results. Try to narrow down what course(s) you want to do and work towards that.

    It would be a shame to devote time and money to improving your A Level grades, if your chosen course then demands an Access course instead. Planning ahead now might save you an extra year of unnecessary expense.
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    Give an access course some consideration. I left school at 17 and this year enrolled in one. I've had offers for history from all five universities i applied too (Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield, Cardiff and UWE). Having said that i understand an access course is really expensive if you have A2 levels (fortunately i only had AS's) so it was virtually free. Whatever you decide being a mature student really does work to your advantage in your personal statement. Best of luck whatever you decide.
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    First things first: Don't get overwhelmed. Try to focus first on what you want to do; the how will follow on from that. So:

    Step 1: Look at all the courses available out there. Don't just look at what you studied at school, the subject that will become your passion might not be one you've even come across yet. Once you've decided what course you want to do, you can start thinking about how you get on to it.

    Step 2: Find out which unis do your course or courses. Visit them, read their websites, speak to their admissions staff. They will know better than anyone what the best route will be for you to follow, especially when the best route may depend on what you want to study (as specific requirements will differ from course to course).

    Step 3: Don't rule out any entry route based on prejudice. All unis accept people with a range of qualifications, including the Access course.

    Step 4: As finance appears to be a consideration for you, think about a foundation year. If you follow a degree + 1 foundation route and pass your foundation year, you're guaranteed progression to your degree. It does mean another year of uni tuition fees but this will be covered by the tuition fee loan from Student Finance so no upfront costs, which you might have if you returned to college.

    If it helps, my own personal story has many parallels with your own. Your academic history, the choices you've made and the position you find yourself in are all frighteningly familiar to me; that's why I'm writing this (I've never felt compelled to respond to anyone else on here before). I started my university degree (at a top university) just before my 21st birthday and haven't regretted it a day since (despite the passing of a decade or two). In my opinion, the secret to my success was finding the right course at the right uni. In your case, that will depend on what you're looking for and only you will know when you've found it. As you try to decide, make best use of all the available expert advice there is out there. It was my first-choice uni that helped me to make the right choices about what I should do so never be afraid to ask.

    Good luck, stay positive and don't let it all get to you - it will all be worth it in the end if you get where you want to be!
 
 
 
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