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    Hey I'm new to TSR & it would be great if some people could lend an ear and possibly chuck me some friendly advice!

    I've recently decided that I want to get back into education. I'm 22 and currently re-doing some of my GCSE's, hoping to do an access course next year and then finally do the uni thing at the ripe old age of 24

    I've been looking at different access courses near my area as well as looking at what universities have on offer although that's a bit further down the line. There are two that have caught my eye: I'm thinking of either doing science or possibly humanities with maths.

    What would you guys say my prospects are given my situation and which of these access courses seem like a better way to increase my options as far as getting into something decent when I do finally take that big step into higher education? I find both of these relatively interesting but obviously I'm more concerned about where it's going to get me and also what my career prospects would be in years to come.

    Would you say that I'd be able to get into something that would land me a good future given my circumstances or am I more likely to have to end up doing something mediocre? Also any other general advice would be helpful as I've been out of the whole education thing for a while now and it's all a bit strange and foreboding to me.

    Look forward to hearing back. Cheers!
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    (Original post by noddz)
    I'm thinking of either doing science or possibly humanities with maths.

    What would you guys say my prospects are given my situation and which of these access courses seem like a better way to increase my options as far as getting into something decent when I do finally take that big step into higher education? I find both of these relatively interesting but obviously I'm more concerned about where it's going to get me and also what my career prospects would be in years to come.
    Imo: qualifications in science etc. (STEM, to use the modern acronym) lend themselves more readily to employment than many of the humanities subjects (though Law is a clear exception).

    However...bear in mind that as an HE student, you'll be sacrificing the opportunity to earn a full time wage for several years, plus racking up debt in the process. Furthermore, you'll still be less than 30 when you go back out in the workplace (unless you plan on having a very long student career), so you're looking at potentially 40 years in a career before you retire - that's a long time. Up to you, of course, but my advice would be to let your interests dictate your career route, rather than the career determine your study route. (Admittedly, this becomes a lot more complex once the issue of earning a living comes up.)

    Nevertheless, why study something you don't enjoy for 3+ years, and then go into a career you may not enjoy either for another 4 decades? I'd use the next year (while you study your GCSEs) and the early part of your access course to help figure out what really interests you, and then apply for uni courses informed by that process.

    Good luck!
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    Ideally, you need an idea of what degree you want to do, before committing to an Access course. Degrees are likely to specify a particular "flavour" of Access course, so doing an Access course without knowing what field you'll go into at uni, is a risk.

    In your shoes, I'd try to decide what sort if degree you're aiming for, before signing up to an Access course. You can contact the Admissions Office of some unis, tell them what degree(s) you're considering and ask them for the accepted Access course. Science or Humanities/Maths, are likely to have very different pre-requisites.
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    Yeah I get what you guys are saying. The thing is though, I don't know what will be on offer to me until I've done the access course and got my results.

    Also for example, Jimmy, you said science would be more likely to get me into STEM, well I was looking at some engineering and software related courses on one uni's website (both things I find interesting) and you have to do a maths based access course to get on, while another uni I looked at said you'd need science to do the same things.

    It all seems to vary quite a lot and like I said I have no idea what access course results I'm gonna get until I do them. Does anyone know how hard it is to get merits/distinctions? I'm relatively smart (imho) but, again, I've been out of the game for so long that I barely any idea as to what's expected.

    Contacting some unis seems like a good idea. It would be nice to be able to have more of an informative talk with somebody who knows exactly what I need to do. Do you think they'd be willing to indulge me to a certain extent or are they only there to give me blunt answers to straight questions?
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    (Original post by noddz)
    The thing is though, I don't know what will be on offer to me until I've done the access course and got my results.
    Generally, you apply during your Access study and unis will give you a conditional offer based on the grades that your lecturers predict for you. You don't need your final results before you apply to uni, although you can delay and do that if you want to.

    Contacting some unis seems like a good idea. It would be nice to be able to have more of an informative talk with somebody who knows exactly what I need to do. Do you think they'd be willing to indulge me to a certain extent or are they only there to give me blunt answers to straight questions?
    There's no real way to predict how enquiries will be handled. Dealing with prospective applicants is part of the Admissions Office's remit, so they should be as helpful as they can be. If you really like the look of a particular uni or degree, you could always ask to go there and meet someone to discuss it. There's no practical way they can meet individually with all prospective applicants, but you won't lose anything by asking. Even if nobody's free to see you, it might at least get you brownie points for enthusiasm!
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    Good point. Obviously uni is further down the line anyway but better to find out what I'm looking to do sooner rather than later!

    It's just all a bit intimidating and confusing to me tbh because I really have no idea what to expect but I know I want to get into higher education.

    I'll definitely call some unis up and find out what they're specifically looking for. Hopefully things will work out, I'm probably worrying too much about it tbh but I just don't want to spend a year doing something that's not even going to get me into something I'd enjoy.

    Cheers for the pointers!
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    Just to follow up from earlier...

    1) Re. what to study, if you're confident you'll be happy studying/working in STEM, go for it - your employment prospects will be great (assuming you're a diligent and successful student). One caveat is that if your heart isn't really in that, and you really want to study a humanities subject, think carefully before proceeding. Yes, it may be difficult to find a job after studying humanities, but then it's a long slog in STEM if you don't really enjoy it.

    2) Ideally, yes, you'll have a ballpark idea of what you want to study at uni before you commit to a particular Access pathway. But some pathways still leave a number of options open, so you've still got time to fine tune your decision once you've started. For example, I followed the Humanities pathway, so right away science options were off the table (I was comfortable with that since I know it's not really my thing), but I still didn't know exactly what I wanted to do at uni when I started the course. People who did the same three subjects I did (Psych, Soc, English Lit) went on to start various different degrees, and I eventually narrowed down what I wanted to do.

    Ultimately, I'd say having a solid idea of your degree choices before you start Access is better, since it means you can focus your efforts then on doing the course and not have to worry about researching and decision-making on top of the workload. However, if you're really not 100% sure before you start Access, it's not an unmanageable situation, just not the most preferable one.

    3) Re. talking things over with people, I'd try going to a few uni open days. People who attend them are normally A-Level or Access students applying for the next year, but there's no law that says that you can't go while studying for your GCSE retakes. It gives you extra time to ingest and ponder the info, for one thing.

    4) Re. getting merits and distinctions on Access, it's impossible to say objectively how easy or hard it will be for you, since it varies from person to person. You'll get a better idea once you get your first assignments back from marking. Extremes are pretty easy to spot early on; for example, if you get clear distinctions on all your first assignments, you've got a good chance of getting all 45 credits at distinction, since if you maintain your efforts throughout the course, it's unlikely your written work will get worse. Some people on my course didn't need to meet particularly demanding uni entry requirements, so they tried to snag their required grades asap and then they could relax a bit more. My advice would be to just work as hard as you can on each assignment, as long as you're not risking burning out.

    Don't worry about it too much; everyone is a bit unsure of how they'll fare at the start of the course, but things will just settle into place. Not everyone attains the grades they need for their first choice, but if you can be flexible, you'll increase your chances of getting a uni place.
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    (Original post by noddz)
    Good point. Obviously uni is further down the line anyway but better to find out what I'm looking to do sooner rather than later!

    It's just all a bit intimidating and confusing to me tbh because I really have no idea what to expect but I know I want to get into higher education.

    I'll definitely call some unis up and find out what they're specifically looking for. Hopefully things will work out, I'm probably worrying too much about it tbh but I just don't want to spend a year doing something that's not even going to get me into something I'd enjoy.

    Cheers for the pointers!
    I think it's really important to know what you want to do before you start your Access course. As each course can differ, and each uni often wanting different offerings from different courses, you need to make sure what you're doing will get you into the course you want to do (assuming you get the grades). It would be heartbreaking to decide on a uni course after doing Access only to find you need one more module in maths (for example) to study software engineering. So I'd suggest spending a few months doing some serious reading and researching about courses, subject areas, and opportunities after uni; both employed and student.

    Secondly STEM isn't everything. I am studying science, but a lot of graduate schemes I've looked at just want a 2:1 or higher and x-amount of UCAS points (something you won't get with Access, but something which will supposedly be rectified in the near future...). Obviously if you study history and then decide you want to do a MSc in genetics or work for GSK you might struggle, but the working world isn't quite as STEM obsessed as students seem to think. But from my point of view I think a STEM subject gives you a broader range of skills which you can apply to a broad range of jobs, but I am biased.
 
 
 
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