Traditional university was always something I just assumed I would end up doing when I left school. When I was growing up it never really crossed my mind that I would do anything else but when I was getting towards the end of my A-levels, and the main focus was applying for university, I realised that it maybe wasn’t the path for me. I had visited a couple of university campuses and looked at a few courses but I really struggled to set my heart on going. Originally I had planned and applied to study dance to become a dance teacher but I lost a lot of my confidence and decided to back out. I ended up leaving 6th form, starting a full time job and putting education aside for a little while.
It was probably only about a year later when I realised how much I missed learning and started to look at further education options again. I did quite a lot of research on the Open University after meeting a couple of people who had done a degree through the OU or were part way through. I watched so many videos and read so many blogs about the OU experience and decided to apply to do a degree in Psychology and Criminology . Just in case you don’t know, the Open University is a distance learning university which means you can complete your studies just about anywhere. You have a tutor and a tutor group for support and there are monthly tutorials which can either be face-to-face or an online session.
There were so many factors that played into my decision to apply to do a degree with the Open University rather than a traditional university so I thought I would share them with you.
When you think of university and the way it is portrayed in the media, everything appears to revolve around the social life. I really liked the idea of going to university and having a wider circle of friends from different backgrounds with different interests, but I really felt like I would struggle with the lifestyle. I’m quite a shy person when I’m in a new environment and I’m quite introverted which I think would have made the freshers experience, as well as nights out, quite tough. I know that this is only a part of the university experience but I just don’t think it is for me.
I have always struggled with having a clear career path or direction I wanted to go in when it came to work and study. When I finished my A-levels I was so torn between what to study that it didn’t seem right to rush into doing a degree straight away just for the sake of it. I have had a little bit more time to think through my decision and I am happy with my choice to study psychology and criminology. It might not end up being 100% relevant to my career but it is something I really enjoy learning about and it feels like a good back up to be able to fall back on.
After starting a full time job when I left 6th form, I became really used to working and having a regular income. The fees for a conventional degree felt very scary to me and I knew I would obviously lose the full time salary I had become used to. One of the things that I really liked about the Open University was that you pay for each module individually and can still work alongside studying. You can still get student finance loans for part time study which act like a normal student loan, but I felt more comfortable knowing I was only committing to one module at a time. Alongside this, the pricing for the Open University is reduced in comparison to traditional university courses so that made it feel even more accessible.
I think it will be really interesting to document the process of studying with the OU and how I am finding it so if you have any questions about the Open University or distance learning let me know and I will try my best to answer them!