A few days ago the lovely Melita blogged about why she chose to go to uni and why she thought that it was a really good opportunity and why others should go.
I've been doing OU for a few months now and people often question my decision. Do you not want the uni lifestyle? Do you not want to put off adult life for a few more years? Isn't studying on your own.... boring? Is it not expensive?. To be honest I would love to say that the clear answer to all four is no but it is more complicated than that.
Do not think that the OU doesn't provide you with an experience on it's own. Whilst I may not go out and get hammered on bar crawls with flatmates or coursemates (I do this with my friends anyway!), We interact and we keep in touch. On my course we have a great facebook group which provides great support both academically and on a personal level. Our group has also had large meet ups so you aren't without any one.
I did a term at Cardiff before I changed routes and I have to say, the uni lifestyle was good for me... for about a week. I got really sick, really quickly, of picking up after other people. Of a mouldy kitchen and of sitting around eating biscuits constantly.
In my opinion, the best thing about the OU is that it is not your entire plan. You aren't stuck on "just studying" or "just working", you can do both. I work 40 hours a week and study for about 12, this sounds like alot but I do about 4 hours on my days of and then an hour or two after I get home from work. At the moment I earn about 200 pounds a week and when I start my new job I will be on considerably more. I am gaining experience for the real world and I am not emmersing myself into a big pool of debt.
Okay, this one is tricky. Yes, sometimes studying by yourself is tedious. Without the constraints of being stuck in a lecture theatre, it is easy to let your mind wander. The amount of times I have found myself perusing the web rather than reading a chapter is amazing. But once you knuckle down and get on with it, it really is no different to studying in a class. I feel like I am achieving in my study as I often have to work things out for myself as there is noone to explain it to me. But if I am really stuck, the facebook group I mentioned is always on hand... with 300+ members there is always someone who knows the answer. We also have tutorials that come every four weeks, these are no different to a typical seminar style of study. You also get a great tutor who provides you with a phone number and email.
Here is the best bit. NO IT IS NOT EXPENSIVE. I'll list this out as I can see it turning into a paragraph.
- The fees are cheaper than brick uni.
- There are no living or commuting expenses
- It is easier to earn whilst you study.
- There is a bursary, which if you are entitled to it, gives you a few hundred pounds for books.
- The course provides you with the majority of the books
- On the current system, as a low wage earner.. I do not pay ANY fees.
- On the new system, there will be an option for applying to the student loans comany. This will give you a loan the same as you get for brick uni, but the fees are lower.
- Unlike brick uni, there is no set scheme of modules. You can pick what modules you take (there is an open degree option... where you can literally pick any module... or follow the route to a specified degree, where you generally only have a few compulsory modules), You do not have to do a module straight after the last. If I didn't want to do another module for two years.... I don't have to, but all of them count towards the final degree.
It is hard work and you do have to be really motivated, but personally I think that is a good thing. Instead of being babied students, we are self sufficient students. It may not be the party hard option- It is the sensible one. But I do think it is one that 18 year olds should be aware of, Especially with the impending 9000 a year fees plus living costs.