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Open University or Access to HE then Brick University? STEM

Hi all. I'm 23 years old and interested in doing an undergraduate degree in computer science or engineering in the hopes of making a career for myself in the tech industry.

I have not been in school since the age of 16. The highest level of qualification I have is two poor AS levels in history and government & politics. At 16 I didn't know what I wanted to do in the future and had difficult personal circumstances so I dropped out and started working. Since then, I have worked many different jobs, mostly retail positions, some jobs lasted longer than others, but all were ultimately pretty dead-end and soul-crushing. I have tried a couple of trades and they didn't appeal to me.

I'm looking to upskill while working ideally, as I live on my own, but I'm also fortunate enough to have the option of moving back in with relatives if that's what it takes to for me to be able to study.

I recently enrolled in an Open University access to STEM course, which I'm considering withdrawing from upon discovery that the access course that the OU provides is best for those wishing to complete a degree with the OU. I'm not confident that the OU's access course to STEM will prepare me enough for a degree in engineering or computer science. However, I could be wrong. I'm also not confident an OU degree in computer science will compete well with degrees from brick universities where students have more opportunities to take part in research projects and collaborate with other students. So, I am considering enrolling in a distance learning Access to HE course or physical college.

I achieved a C in maths at GCSE and I feel there are many areas of mathematics that I may need to revisit to be able to have a chance at understanding concepts and functions at a degree level. I think I might purchase some second-hand GCSE and A-level maths textbooks to work from.

I'm willing to put in the work required to get where I want to be. I'm just at a loss for which path is best to take for someone in my particular situation.

There's still a lot of research I need to do myself. I live on my own and have a limited social circle so I don't have many people I can ask for advice in person.

Does anyone with an OU or distance learning background have any advice or suggestions? and anyone who went back to college to complete an access to HE course?

Also, I'd greatly appreciate any tips on studying and self-teaching outside of a full-time job

I'm also happy to answer any questions.
Thanks!
(edited 1 year ago)
Hey, I was in a very similar position to you a few years back. I recently completed an Access to HE diploma whilst working part time, now I'm studying BSc Neuroscience at Warwick uni.

If you need any advice feel free to ask, my access course was quite hard tbh but I put the work in and I achieved excellent grades; if you're motivated enough then you will definitely do well.
Original post by AmarRPM
Hey, I was in a very similar position to you a few years back. I recently completed an Access to HE diploma whilst working part time, now I'm studying BSc Neuroscience at Warwick uni.

If you need any advice feel free to ask, my access course was quite hard tbh but I put the work in and I achieved excellent grades; if you're motivated enough then you will definitely do well.

Thank you for your reply. I recently read your thread on getting 45D in your access to HE course. I'm quite determined to work towards better employment and a better life. What resources did you use to teach yourself to self-study and what did you find worked best for you?
Hey, I'll quote myself -

(Original post by AmarRPM)
Hi,

A level textbooks will help you immensely. I would recommend using multiple A level textbooks and collating information from each textbook - so for example, if you were writing about the Krebs Cycle, use 5-10 A level textbooks and then extract the key information for this topic from each textbook, collate it all together and put it into your own words to ensure that you have included enough breadth and depth in your answer to get the top grades. Also make use of websites (just by doing a google search) Youtube videos, etc in order to include more detail in your answers.

You can get second hand A level textbooks online for quite cheap, also if you REALLY don't understand a topic you could get an online tutor to help you out/proofread your answers, I found chemistry pretty difficult so a tutor really helped for certain topics.

With the DistanceLearningCentre you are given grading criteria and assessment criteria for each assessment/exam which helps immensely and essentially acts as a specification, similar to GCSE and A Level. I often used it as a checklist to ensure that I had included all required points with enough breadth/depth in my assignments. If I wasn't too sure on any bits in a particular assignment I would often make notes on any given questions/my answers and just whizz through a tutorial with my personal tutor to go over these parts.



^^Hope this helped you :smile:
You may want to explore the OpenPlus programme run by the Open Uni, which partners with various "brick" unis to allow you to start the degree at the OU then complete it at the partner uni.
Original post by AmarRPM
Hey, I'll quote myself -

(Original post by AmarRPM)
Hi,

A level textbooks will help you immensely. I would recommend using multiple A level textbooks and collating information from each textbook - so for example, if you were writing about the Krebs Cycle, use 5-10 A level textbooks and then extract the key information for this topic from each textbook, collate it all together and put it into your own words to ensure that you have included enough breadth and depth in your answer to get the top grades. Also make use of websites (just by doing a google search) Youtube videos, etc in order to include more detail in your answers.

You can get second hand A level textbooks online for quite cheap, also if you REALLY don't understand a topic you could get an online tutor to help you out/proofread your answers, I found chemistry pretty difficult so a tutor really helped for certain topics.

With the DistanceLearningCentre you are given grading criteria and assessment criteria for each assessment/exam which helps immensely and essentially acts as a specification, similar to GCSE and A Level. I often used it as a checklist to ensure that I had included all required points with enough breadth/depth in my assignments. If I wasn't too sure on any bits in a particular assignment I would often make notes on any given questions/my answers and just whizz through a tutorial with my personal tutor to go over these parts.



^^Hope this helped you :smile:

Thank you! I appreciate that. Have taken note on multiple parts from your reply. There's quite some useful stuff there
Original post by artful_lounger
You may want to explore the OpenPlus programme run by the Open Uni, which partners with various "brick" unis to allow you to start the degree at the OU then complete it at the partner uni.


Going to look into this. Thank you

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