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    Hi everyone, just looking for some advice really!

    I'll try to keep this short but its a bit complex so apologies if I ramble.

    Im 19 years old and currently out of education. I've completed AS's in Politics, English Lang and English Lit (BBD respectively). I thought that education wasn't for me and I wanted out so I gave up. However, I do in fact love learning and all the recent election talk has reignited my fire for the subject! Previously I wanted to study politics or PPE and progress into a journalism route with a focus on political reporting. I am now reconsidering this but primarily would just like to do the degree for my own development and interest. All of my friends are studying and I've always been a little envious.

    However there was a reason I dropped out, I know for a fact that it was the college environment, I never had a problem at school, I hated it as much as the next teenager but I got on with it and did well in my GCSE's. So I don't want to risk spending a lot of money on a degree and hating the uni life. Also, I'm in a long term relationship and moving away isnt something I'd consider. I've been looking into the open university and was wondering if anyone has any experience or can tell me more about studying with them? Are the degrees considered valuable or would employers regard them in the same light as they would a bottom ranking uni? I like the idea of distance learning and doing things in my own time rather than the regimented college-like proceedings of an 'actual' uni. Also I'm flat broke! So the idea of working while studying with OU is very appealing as well. What student finance is available if anyone has experience with this as well?

    Finally (sorry I know this is alot of questions!!) I'd like to finish my A Levels or take up some new ones and get them done (asap) politics is of course my priority, anyone any experience or know the procedure for picking up an A2 or would I have to start over? and what kind of price would I be looking at? I know I dont need A levels for OU but id really like them just for personal achievement and in case I ever wanted to go to a 'mainstream' uni

    Thanks in advance
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    Whether you need to start over with A levels depends on how much the course has changed. The simplest way to find out would be to talk to a sixth form college. They could also offer advice on fees and on possible alternatives like an access to higher education course. However you can look at the providers websites e.g. AQA here http://www.aqa.org.uk/. I believe the government part funds access courses for those under 25.

    You can get loans for Open University courses http://www.open.ac.uk/courses/fees-and-funding and they are respected courses. Most employers realise that holding down a job and studying for a degree is tough and they might take you in preference to someone who does a conventional university course but has no work history.

    Without knowing where youa re it's not possible to know if there is a good local university you could attend.

    University life is more like college than school but not the same as college. You need to be motivated to work and many people are, they are paying a lot to be there. If you are sufficiently motivated to study independently you should be fine at university.
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    A few thoughts on your questions:

    OU degrees are well-regarded. Many people fit them around work and family, which shows commitment. Plus the mark thresholds are slightly higher than most "brick" universities e.g. 50% for a pass instead of 40%, 80% for a First instead of 70%.

    The only Student Finance available will be a Tuition Fee Loan, as all OU courses are considered part-time (even if you choose to study them effectively full-time). You therefore won't get any help with living expenses whilst you study.

    A Level syllabuses can change, so picking up where you left off for an A2 might not be possible. You'd need to check with your target provider.
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    Thanks a lot guys, I'll have to give it some more thought I suppose, probably best to get my A Levels done as soon as I can and from there I can decide on progression routes, your advice is much appreciated!


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    (Original post by KieranWinterburn)
    Thanks a lot guys, I'll have to give it some more thought I suppose, probably best to get my A Levels done as soon as I can and from there I can decide on progression routes, your advice is much appreciated!


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    You could always try an OU level 1/OU access module to see what you thought and you should still be able to take your 3 A-level exams next summer, but that will be your last chance without having to sit them under the new system. Assuming the new system comes to fruition there won't be AS exams, only second year A-level exams and syllabuses are changing so, as with the changes in 2008, it is likely that the two aren't comparable so you won't be able to just continue and will be forced to start your A-levels from scratch again.

    One more tiny thing which I know you haven't asked for advice about. No relationship is worth giving up your dream and something which may help you get where you want to be in life. Relationships come and go, but your life is something you will have for as long as you exist. Don't not do something because of someone else. It's tough, but you have the rest of your life to put other people first, sometimes it's important to put yourself first.
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    I agree with everyone else but I'd also suggest you watch these videos which in my opinion give a fair and accurate account of what studying with the OU is like.



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    (Original post by SuperCat007)
    You could always try an OU level 1/OU access module to see what you thought and you should still be able to take your 3 A-level exams next summer, but that will be your last chance without having to sit them under the new system. Assuming the new system comes to fruition there won't be AS exams, only second year A-level exams and syllabuses are changing so, as with the changes in 2008, it is likely that the two aren't comparable so you won't be able to just continue and will be forced to start your A-levels from scratch again.

    One more tiny thing which I know you haven't asked for advice about. No relationship is worth giving up your dream and something which may help you get where you want to be in life. Relationships come and go, but your life is something you will have for as long as you exist. Don't not do something because of someone else. It's tough, but you have the rest of your life to put other people first, sometimes it's important to put yourself first.
    Thanks for the advice! The stuff about the a levels was really useful I'd forgotten they were scrapping the current system! I've been thinking about it and after sleeping on it I think it might actually be better just to forget the A levels and go for the open university course. With regards to what you said about relationships I appreciate your view point but on the flip side I've seen people drop out of uni because it was too hard to be away from the person they love! I think I would consider doing a masters post OU, with a bricks and mortar university and then this would "open" up more doors (excuse the pun) and allow me the actual university experience if I feel like this was something I lacked going the OU route. Also, I'd hopefully be in a more stable financial position at this point so presuming I was still in the relationship it would be more practical in terms of living together etc.

    Thoughts on this?

    Additionally, I've already watched both those videos and I think you're right hey provide a great insight into the courses and the uni! I just wish I knew someone who had studied politics through the OU as i have so many questions about the syllabus and how the course is assessed/even taught! Can anyone provide some insight to these questions? I understand you're sent study materials but what exactly do these contain? And how extensive is the tutor support?

    Thanks again so much everyone, this is just such a huge and life altering decision and I've rushed into things in the past, I want to be sure I'm fully clued up on what to expect. I really feel this is something that could set me on the course to some great success and fulfilment so I hope I'm right in that.


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    (Original post by KieranWinterburn)
    Additionally, I've already watched both those videos and I think you're right hey provide a great insight into the courses and the uni! I just wish I knew someone who had studied politics through the OU as i have so many questions about the syllabus and how the course is assessed/even taught! Can anyone provide some insight to these questions? I understand you're sent study materials but what exactly do these contain? And how extensive is the tutor support?
    There is an Open University sub-forum; I suggest you look there for specific course information.

    All OU courses are assessed in pretty much the same way. You will have a number of TMAs, these are essays - you will get a list of essay questions when you receive your books and study materials so you know in advance what you will be asked to write about. The essays are marked out of 100, 40 is a Pass and 85 a Distinction. There is usually around a month between each TMA. At the end of your course you either do an EMA (a longer version of a TMA) or an exam. The study materials will contain all the books you need for the module and an assignment booklet which details exactly what you have to do, how to do it and when it needs to be done by.

    Most tutors hold monthly meetings where local OU students can meet and go over new topics. They will also answer questions and post course information on the OU forum. And you can email or phone them if you need help.
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    (Original post by Snufkin)
    There is an Open University sub-forum; I suggest you look there for specific course information.

    All OU courses are assessed in pretty much the same way. You will have a number of TMAs, these are essays - you will get a list of essay questions when you receive your books and study materials so you know in advance what you will be asked to write about. The essays are marked out of 100, 40 is a Pass and 85 a Distinction. There is usually around a month between each TMA. At the end of your course you either do an EMA (a longer version of a TMA) or an exam. The study materials will contain all the books you need for the module and an assignment booklet which details exactly what you have to do, how to do it and when it needs to be done by.

    Most tutors hold monthly meetings where local OU students can meet and go over new topics. They will also answer questions and post course information on the OU forum. And you can email or phone them if you need help.

    That was exactly the information I've been looking for, thank you so much for that Snufkin! I'll have a look at that sub-forum now as well.

    Soooo, I'm pretty much sold, final question is - were I to progress to a masters post OU which I think is definitely something I would be interested in doing, would I be in with as good a chance as any with getting on to this one http://www.lse.ac.uk/study/graduate/...unication.aspx with my PPE from the OU? (Always dreamt of studying at LSE so could the OU be a springboard to get me there?)



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    Hi Kieran,

    I think taking your A levels first would be a good idea- you did well in two of your AS levels so there's no reason to believe you can't get A/B or above at A level. You're still very young so have plenty of time to consider your next option but in general I think standard University courses might be better than the OU if you want to progress to serious journalism. Are you close to any good unis?
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    (Original post by Katy100)
    Hi Kieran,

    I think taking your A levels first would be a good idea- you did well in two of your AS levels so there's no reason to believe you can't get A/B or above at A level. You're still very young so have plenty of time to consider your next option but in general I think standard University courses might be better than the OU if you want to progress to serious journalism. Are you close to any good unis?
    Can you please explain why you said this? A quick LinkedIn search shows there are loads of OU graduates working as "serious" journalists. :confused:
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    (Original post by KieranWinterburn)
    Thanks for the advice! The stuff about the a levels was really useful I'd forgotten they were scrapping the current system! I've been thinking about it and after sleeping on it I think it might actually be better just to forget the A levels and go for the open university course. With regards to what you said about relationships I appreciate your view point but on the flip side I've seen people drop out of uni because it was too hard to be away from the person they love! I think I would consider doing a masters post OU, with a bricks and mortar university and then this would "open" up more doors (excuse the pun) and allow me the actual university experience if I feel like this was something I lacked going the OU route. Also, I'd hopefully be in a more stable financial position at this point so presuming I was still in the relationship it would be more practical in terms of living together etc.

    Thoughts on this?

    Additionally, I've already watched both those videos and I think you're right hey provide a great insight into the courses and the uni! I just wish I knew someone who had studied politics through the OU as i have so many questions about the syllabus and how the course is assessed/even taught! Can anyone provide some insight to these questions? I understand you're sent study materials but what exactly do these contain? And how extensive is the tutor support?

    Thanks again so much everyone, this is just such a huge and life altering decision and I've rushed into things in the past, I want to be sure I'm fully clued up on what to expect. I really feel this is something that could set me on the course to some great success and fulfilment so I hope I'm right in that.


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    Check entry requirements for masters and graduate schemes you might be interested in. If they don't require A-levels then get straight on with the OU, if they do then obviously do the A-levels to give you the best chance of getting in further down the line. Don't be scared of doing something because of what has happened to other people, it probably won't happen to you! If you want to go away to uni for the course, or the place then don't let another person hold you back, especially when you're as young as you are.
 
 
 

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