Open University – my story
My Good Life is hosting an Open University Carnival on 3rd February and as I am an Open University Graduate, I thought I would share my story.
I once worked as a Personal Assistant but having my children had inspired me to do something different with my life and aim, amongst other things, to get the degree that I had once dreamed of as a young teenager. So in 2004, when my youngest child started nursery, I enroled with the Open University.
For those readers who are not familiar with the Open University, the OU as it is called, is the UK’s main provider of distance education to thousands of students from across the world. This means that people study off campus (part or full time) in a way that fits in with their lifestyles. Courses range from certificates and diplomas to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Many students, and I was one, get a certificate first, then a diploma and then finally a degree. I found it a good way of building up my skills, stamina and confidence as I took on more demanding courses and of course you have something to show for your achievements as you progress. All of my courses involved me having to write tutor marked assignments (infamously called TMA’s) followed by either an exam or extended assignment and I also had the options of attending tutorials so I was never totally isolated. Here is what I studied.
DD100 – introducing the social sciences covering psychology, social policy and criminology, geography and environment, politics and international studies, economics and sociology. This course was quite a shock in terms of the workload and getting used to juggling studying, family life and now working part-time but I persisted and passed well. Next came:
DD203 – contemporary politics which looked at the parliamentary system, elections, power, dissent, representation and equality. Quite boring in parts but a good foundation for advanced political study. This was my second year and I was still finding it a struggle combining studying with everything else. This was also the first time I did an exam for over 15 years which was, frankly, awful. The stress! Still, I passed well and I moved onto:
U216 – Environment – a brilliant course that looked at the interaction of the social and environmental. Specifically looks at climate change, polluted air, nuclear waste management, depletion of natural resources such as the Amazon rain forest, disappearance of species and habitats, the rights of future generations and genetic modification. This was an intensive course which required a lot of work – assignments, an independent project and exam. I particularly loved doing my project on allotments but the exam was terrible. I started to realise that I’m not good at exams, I am a project type of girl. Then I went back to politics.
DU301, a world of whose making – looked at international politics and economics in particular the role of the World Trade Organisation, the USA, China, culture and human rights. Superb, made me think very hard about developed and developing countries. Pleased to say no exam but a demanding extended essay which I did on China. I was now really into my studies and was comfortable studying on my own. It was just me and my brain and some occasional whingeing to my husband. By now, he was getting utterly fed up with TMAs.
DD306, living political ideas – looked at human body and mind, politics and violence, animals and humans, religion and politics. Drew on a lot of theoretical work and brilliant case studies from real life. Outstanding course. Again no end of course exam, but an extended and demanding end of course assignment.
So there you have it. After five years of sometimes gruelling study, I graduated with a BSc in Social Sciences witth Politics in 2009. My dream of a degree that I harboured as a young teenager had now been achieved – I still can’t quite believe it to be honest because I never thought I would get it. Life just had a habit of getting in the way. What I was not expecting from studying however, was how therapeutic it became whilst I dealt with my son’s autism and exclusion from school. When things were not going very well, sinking myself into my studies helped me to momentarily escape the pressures of life.
So thankyou OU for the opportunity to reclaim my education, for making me find time for myself and for helping me to show my children that learning is for life.
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