Access Course needed at 25 years old? Watch

bobcunningham
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So I got my A Levels and entered self employment at 18, opting not to go to Uni in hope that my own business would take off. I now want a better career and in theory have enough UCAS points and even a nice relevant portfolio, but I lack confidence and am worried that my learning skills have somewhat diminished.

At 25 years old should I just apply and dive in? Or would an access course be helpful? I filled out a mock application for the access course and my personal statement makes me seem way over-qualified. Yet I am not confident in my abilities and feel I might need to ease back in to the learning mindset.

Any thoughts?
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JamesN88
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The loan for an Access Course gets written off anyway when you graduate uni, so if you can afford to spend an extra year doing it to ease yourself back in to education then you've got nothing to lose.
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bobcunningham
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(Original post by JamesN88)
The loan for an Access Course gets written off anyway when you graduate uni, so if you can afford to spend an extra year doing it to ease yourself back in to education then you've got nothing to lose.
That's good to know.
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m_james
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(Original post by bobcunningham)
That's good to know.
There's nothing wrong with going for the Access course, especially when your A Level qualifications are from over 7 years ago.

I also had good A Levels (in non-science subjects!) before I did the Access to Science course, so I felt like I had an edge over the majority of the people on my course. Odds are there will be some people studying with you who will be sitting GCSE's alongside the Access course itself.

You might even be able to gain a scholarship to your chosen degree depending on how well you do on the Access course. One of the universities that I applied to awarded £1000 for each year of study, which is helpful. Access courses are designed to ease mature learners back into education, and act as a stepping stone to university level. I'd say go for it.
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Kevlar123
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I think in your position an access course is actually a waste of time. Access courses are designed for people without the right entry qualifications. Studying for degree is a different animal to studying A levels and there is an adjustment period for everyone. Most if not all Universities will offer study skills sessions and tutorials and possibility a society for your subject which offer help. You should have a personal tutor to help with any issues.

First year of university for most course will not count towards your degree classification and is a time to develop those study skills.

There is a reason that Uni's give lower offers to mature students, because they usually have a more focused attitude and mind set etc.

There is also the extra year of study and some of the elements and box ticking parts of the access course will frustrate you.

This is all depending on what you want to study, if it was something like Engineering I would look at universities with a foundation year that if you pass you automatically get entry to the first year, it would be more relevant to what you want to do.
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bibliboo
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(Original post by bobcunningham)
So I got my A Levels and entered self employment at 18, opting not to go to Uni in hope that my own business would take off. I now want a better career and in theory have enough UCAS points and even a nice relevant portfolio, but I lack confidence and am worried that my learning skills have somewhat diminished.

At 25 years old should I just apply and dive in? Or would an access course be helpful? I filled out a mock application for the access course and my personal statement makes me seem way over-qualified. Yet I am not confident in my abilities and feel I might need to ease back in to the learning mindset.

Any thoughts?
It does depend on what you want to study and which university you are interested in applying to. Ring the admission department of the universities of your choice and explain your situation and qualifications first as you may not need an access course qualification.

If they still suggest an access course then go for it, it certainly helps. BUT, make sure you decide on a career path and degree course before you start the access as that is expected of you since you start your UCAS application within a few weeks of starting the access course. Best of luck.


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lazyloki
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I'd skip the access course if I were you. It's another year of your life and really isn't necessary if all you're concerned about is getting back into the swing of studying: that's what first year of a degree is for anyway.

Regarding your acceptance, I don't think you'll have to worry. So long as you can display an interest (or even some experience) in your chosen field, you'll likely be accepted. In fact, you already mentioned you have enough UCAS points anyway so you'll practically be a shoe-in. When I did my first degree as a mature-ish student (23) I actually decided where I wanted to go and what I wanted to study then just found out the contact details of the admissions tutor for the course. I emailed him direct, explained my situation and was invited to go for an interview. Gave me a chance to explain my motivation etc and I managed to get a place on a pretty heavily subscribed course (Japanese at SOAS) despite having very shoddy school qualifications.

In short: can the access course and go for it.
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bobcunningham
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Thanks for the responses, I have emailed the college about the access course and await their reply. I will contact the Uni today.

The degree I wish to pursue is in Journalism. The entry requirement is 300 points, which I have with three B grade A Levels from 2008. I've owned two blogs since leaving college with a moderate amount of success, including podcasting, Youtubing etc. I also do online Freelance grunt work, where I supply other sites with content. Some of this is garbage, some of it I'm quite proud of.

The point is, I've come to the realisation that if I want to make a fair living I need to get the proper skills and training. It was fun in my teens when I thought I was some internet wiz, but now I'm poor as hell and have no traditional workplace experience.
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RachaelBee
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Personally I think it depends on the content of the course; I think some courses would be easier to go straight back into after a break, whilst there are others which would definitely need a bit of a refresher. I'm doing biomedical science but with a foundation year and it has been super helpful.
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bobcunningham
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Does anybody know if there is an financial help in regard to living expenses? The course I'm after is 3 days a week and listed as "full time."

I know Uni has maintenance loans, but what about college? Working the other 4 days still seems like a stretch when you factor in the time you need to study at home.
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bibliboo
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(Original post by bobcunningham)
Does anybody know if there is an financial help in regard to living expenses? The course I'm after is 3 days a week and listed as "full time."

I know Uni has maintenance loans, but what about college? Working the other 4 days still seems like a stretch when you factor in the time you need to study at home.
College doesn't sadly. There is a 24 plus loan which covers the cost of the course but not much else. If you do apply to college it's worth asking them for info on any available support just in case.
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bobcunningham
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(Original post by bibliboo)
College doesn't sadly. There is a 24 plus loan which covers the cost of the course but not much else. If you do apply to college it's worth asking them for info on any available support just in case.
It seems you're right. The best I can find is help with travel or those with kids etc. Seems a bit of a road block. How does anybody manage it with rent to pay and food to buy?

Am I perhaps overestimating the amount of time needed to study?

Anybody out there who has done an Access Course, how did you fund your living expenses? Just worked in the days off?
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bibliboo
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(Original post by bobcunningham)
It seems you're right. The best I can find is help with travel or those with kids etc. Seems a bit of a road block. How does anybody manage it with rent to pay and food to buy?

Am I perhaps overestimating the amount of time needed to study?

Anybody out there who has done an Access Course, how did you fund your living expenses? Just worked in the days off?
Don't do an access course if you don't need to, because first year at university is much easier than an access course.

but to answer your question, yes myself and many others worked on days off. it's possible to work days off and study. My advice is most certainly to avoid night shifts completely.
It's a very demanding course so you have to start any work as soon as you get it to keep on track.

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bobcunningham
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I ended up applying to the Uni straight away, or at least part way doing so. All I have left to do now is the reference, which is proving to be a hurdle. All I have are random freelance clients who I haven't had much contact with outside of email.
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Klix88
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Most unis will want proof of recent successful study and seven year old A Levels are unlikely to be accepted. Unis are more interested in your academic potential now, rather than several years ago. As you've found, people mature a lot between late teens and mid-20s. You will probably find that unis will require an Access course for most applicants in your situation. Definitely contact unis to ask though.
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Rossbla
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(Original post by Klix88)
Most unis will want proof of recent successful study and seven year old A Levels are unlikely to be accepted. Unis are more interested in your academic potential now, rather than several years ago. As you've found, people mature a lot between late teens and mid-20s. You will probably find that unis will require an Access course for most applicants in your situation. Definitely contact unis to ask though.

Agreed......depends on the uni though and the course. Journalism at most universities is a very popular and oversubscribed course so they'll work through the list of applicants.

To have seven year old A Levels and nothing more recent will probably put you further down the list.
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Katarvi
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(Original post by bobcunningham)
I ended up applying to the Uni straight away, or at least part way doing so. All I have left to do now is the reference, which is proving to be a hurdle. All I have are random freelance clients who I haven't had much contact with outside of email.
What uni are you applying for? If you don't mind my asking. I think you made the right choice to apply directly and skip the access course. I'm 25 and did my A Levels back in 2008 also but got accepted to study Applied Social Science at a RG uni starting this year.

Reference can be tricky, they don't need to know you only know them via email, just how long you've known them. My reference was an online tutor I have for a distance learning course and it was fine.
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999tigger
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I would have thought a foundation year might be useful if you arent confident of your ability.
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