University – the word inspires so many thoughts from freshers to discounts, to part time jobs and independence, but this experience isn’t for everyone and when I left college the thought of going to university didn’t feel like the right ‘next step’ for me.
Luckily, I had support from my parents and advisers at college who understood this, and gave me guidance on my next steps.
When college was drawing to an end, as is tradition we spoke with our tutors and career advisers about what our next steps would be and I made it clear that university was not an option for 17/18 year old me at the time, but I also did not want to leave education – they heard me and they helped!
I attended an interview for an Apprenticeship in Fundraising with Fair Train and this really started my journey in finding out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. I could earn money, work full time gaining invaluable experience and also figure out who I was without the added pressures of living away from family and stressful workloads.
After my Apprenticeship I fell into a job as a Sales and Marketing Assistant at AHR Consultants and worked my way to Marketing Executive – in this role I grew the most. I joined the company as a 19 year old and left at 23 ready to become my own person. The team I worked with were (still are) amazing, they taught me so much and challenged me on a daily basis. I was a nightmare at times and they persevered with me and I am grateful for that.
It was within this journey where I had learnt the practical of doing a marketing role and next I wanted to learn the theory and gain my degree because I now felt confident about what I wanted to do and this was my ‘next step’…
So, what is the Open University?
As described on their website…
“The Open University offers flexible part-time study, supported distance and open learning for undergraduate and postgraduate courses and qualifications.”
So, I could learn in my own time, at my own pace and still have access to tutors and support where I needed it? Sounds right down my independent alley!
And it is what it says on the tin! I am now in my third year with the Open University studying towards a BA (hons) in Business Management and Marketing – I have the power and freedom to choose my own modules and build the amount of work per academic year as I can manage.
How do I manage my time?
I tend to spend at least 6 hours a week studying – typically on a weekday evening, 1-hour a night doesn’t seem too bad in the grand scheme of things!
If you need some inspiration – take a look at my Organisation, Productivity & Me post!
On your online student-area you find a breakdown of the course with learning prompts for each week so you can follow the schedule and learn each week with clear deadlines for pieces of work. You also have access to an online area where you share thoughts and interact with other students.
Each year I have a new tutor and every single one of them have been fantastic – they understand that you are lone working and it can be a challenge and they support you every step of the way!
I have even deferred a year, for personal reasons and also because I felt the work wasn’t relevant to my goals – I rang the university, they understood and made all the arrangements for me to start studying again the following October on a more relevant module.
This is the part that I was worrying about, and I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of here because I am not an expert and I don’t want to guide you in the wrong direction. But I got in contact with Student Finance, made an application and it was pretty simple.
So, whether you want a diploma or a degree, no matter your age or where you are in your life – I can wholeheartedly recommend the Open University to those of you who want to make that leap but may be too scared. Take the chance on yourself, ask for help when you need it and most of all have fun while you do it!
I am doing a course about what I do for a living, I find it easier and fun to write assignments as I have actual experiences to write about and not just theory or a case study – I made the right decision for me and if any of this resonates with you then go on and enjoy your next great adventure…