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Open University

(24 Posts)
ayse Wed 06-Jun-12 12:42:55

I've just started a level 1 course in the Arts and Humanities and whilst I'm doing OK with this I need to decide what next. My biggest problem is the History degree requires the taking of exams and I'm afraid my memory is not as good as it was. I've also had anxiety/depression for a pretty long time (of and on) and I'm finding I get very het up over the assignments but I'm really enjoying the learning experience. I do want to go on and prove to myself it can be done (by me).
Can anyone offer any advice on what the exams might be like or any other useful comments. smile

Butternut Wed 06-Jun-12 13:04:47

ayse Good for you!

I think my first question might be, why are you doing this A&H Open University course. Is it to pass exams, or is it to do something that you will enjoy learning about, but without the bother of the exams at the end. (I think you can decide what modules you choose to follow.) I am sure there are loads of GN-ers who have more knowledge than me about that.

Frankly, unless you are intending to 'use your degree', then just enjoying the learning of it all seems to me to be a perfectly lovely way of engaging in something interesting which enhances your life. If you don't want to do the exams, then don't. (Besides, they cost a bomb!) You can't do away with the assignments, but they are not the be all and end all of your learning; they do have to be done however, but planning takes away lots of pressure. The beauty of OU is that you can take your time.

Good luck and let us know how you get on. smile

absentgrana Wed 06-Jun-12 13:24:47

I used to be an OU invigilator and sometimes supervised individual candidates in their own homes, including people who suffered from anxiety. The candidate still had, say, only three hours to answer the questions, but was allowed to have a break whenever it was needed to relax and calm down. The overall time I was there could be six or even seven hours. I found that candidates who suffered from anxiety were very grateful for this service. I don't know if the OU still provides it, as I haven't done this for many years.

ayse Wed 06-Jun-12 14:41:20

Hello Butternut and Absentgrana

Why am I doing it? Well, I've always loved history but my life has been rather topsy turvy and it has either not been the time nor the place. The time is now right as I will be retiring in about 2 and 1/4 years time so I can devote plenty of time to it, amongst other interesting activities. I also want to prove to myself that I have the staying power.

My tutor seems to think I can do a degree without exams. That's fine in theory but I want to do what I find absorbing, not just for the sake of it. I'll have to talk to a guidance counsellor at the OU later to see if they can help me with this.

Thank you both for your comments smile

absentgrana Wed 06-Jun-12 14:48:53

My cousin did a History degree with OU after she retired and got a first. Good luck ayse and have fun.

whenim64 Wed 06-Jun-12 14:58:02

Hi ayse I have a retired friend who chooses short courses that don't have exams at the end, but are continually assessed. She's done five in the last couple of years and is now doing a science/genetics one, which she is loving. She certainly finds her courses challenging and absorbing, and the set books and guidance notes are fabulous. I always dip in them when I visit, and we share so much of what she is doing - last year when she did a botany-type course, we visited ancient woodlands, and were in my local park measuring ancient oak trees and identifying different mosses and lichens - fascinating!

I got my honours degree via the OU and loved every minute - it helped get me a career. Do you have a local tutor group you can join to go through your TMAs? You could invite them to you for an evening or afternoon once a month, or meet up at one of their houses, and they're really helpful, especially as you can email each other or talk on Facebook - there are so many OU undergraduates on Facebook, chatting about all sorts of issues to do with their specific courses.

The exams are the usual 3 hour sessions in a local uni, and you can take certain books into some exams. The last stages of each course are all about note-taking and revision and you have lots of time before the exam date to really go over your course again, but you don't have to do exams for many of the shorter courses now.

MargaretX Wed 06-Jun-12 17:09:32

You don't have to do a degree, you can take A levels. There are so many interesting subjects at A level which were not offered to us in our day. After I retired I took 'A' level Psychology, and gave myself plenty of time. There is of course the money question. I paid for my tuition per internet and with the OU you can get a reduction if you're a pensioner.

I have also got a certificate for short story writing which I have framed and hung on the wall in the spare room to amuse my children. Now I have proved I can write short stories but have never had one printed!

Now I can't be bothered. It was just a phase. The main thing is do what you like doing and make that bit of effort, otherwise it is not worth doing. Go for it!

wisewoman Wed 06-Jun-12 17:17:55

ayse: I am an OU addict and have done two degrees with them - just for fun! For the last few courses I did ECA (end of course assignments) rather than exams - memory not what it was. This allows you to work on a final project / dissertation type thing in your own time. Not all courses have them so you have to look for ones that do. The only problem is finding courses with ECAs which are also subjects you are interested in.

If you can go to tutorials you will meet lots of like minded people and the tutors and admin staff are very helpful, eg sitting exams at home if you need to.

The exams I did were never as bad as I thought they would be but my brain seems to refuse to absorb masses of information only to disgorge it and then forget it again!

I hope you continue with the OU. I think it is wonderful.

susiecb Wed 06-Jun-12 17:20:00

I have an OU degree and worked as an Assocte Lecturere for the OU for a number of years. The OU is an ideal vehicle for people who are nervous and unused to study/exams as you can ask for extra help and you will get it. The more you practice and keep up to date with your work the more yur confidence will grow. The course fee includes the cost of the exam so you might as well go for it. I'm a big fan so I'm all encouragement. I keep doing the courses now just for fun. Do keep going you will really reap the benefit.

ayse Thu 07-Jun-12 08:47:40

Thanks everyone for all your comments.

I generally go to the tutorials although I will miss the next one as I'll be in Malta. I have really enjoyed the topics studied so far. I will definitely continue but I need to choose the right courses. After all, it is supposed to be for my interest and not as a career boost.

Wisewoman, you have hit the nail on the head. I'll be ringing my tutor when I return from holiday to ask for her help in sorting out a path with assessment modules at the end, if that is possible with the subjects I'm interested in (shocking English).

It's great to see you all being so supportive.


susiecb Thu 07-Jun-12 09:09:47

Do have a chat to other students through the forums on line about your course choices they will give you the detail about them that you wouldnt find in the course outlines.

dizzyblonde Mon 02-Jul-12 23:01:51

Sorry to hijack your thread but I am just about to start an OU foundation degree in Paramedic Science and am very scared. I'm approaching fifty(well 47) and haven't studied (apart from one OU module) since I was eighteen.
Please can someone tell me I'll be fine and won't look a fool next to all the youngsters.
I know I'm already doing a similar job although much further down the food chain but it's still very, very scary!

Annobel Mon 02-Jul-12 23:23:48

What youngsters? The OU is full of people like you. It was started in the first place for mature students. You already have relevant experience which will stand you in good stead and you have nothing to fear.

vampirequeen Tue 03-Jul-12 06:34:26

I did my History degree through the OU. Some of the courses had exams and some didn't. I'm not very good in exams but because a percentage of the marks come from the TMAs it sort of balanced out and I ended up with a 2.1.

Joan Tue 03-Jul-12 07:23:29

Dizzy I started my BA in French and German in my mid 50s. The young students were great with me - no problems and no bad attitudes at all. They did try to get me to go to some of the social things such as the students' bar, international soirees, and various things, but family duties stopped me. They loved it the odd time I managed to go with them to the students' bar.

Being more mature makes studying easier - the fact is we've lived a long time, seen things, done things, learned to understand the world we live in, helps us cope with most subject matter.

I have fond memories of standing outside lecture theatres and laughing with the other students. Or the time half of us fell asleep at our desks in a French class when we had to watch a film of En Attendant Godot (waiting for Godot). Gawd, it was boring in any language! Or even the time I was totally flummoxed in German when we studied a text on 'Big Brother'. I'd never heard of the TV thing and thought Big Brother referred to George Orwell's work, and thought I was completely misunderstanding the German text! That certainly gave them all a laugh.

Ayse, think about 'Educating Rita', get the film and hope you encounter a Frank (aka Michael Caine). If you do, we want all the details please!!!!

whitewave Tue 03-Jul-12 09:18:35

I am only interested if it is Tom Conti! Going to see a play of his in October

whitewave Tue 03-Jul-12 09:31:32

Well not a play of his exactly more a play that he is in!

golfina Thu 27-Sep-12 11:40:56

I'm a bit late with this comment but when I worked for the OU I ws part of a team which ran exams anxiety counselling for students. It was very effective - I don't mean we could solve all the problems but we could give students a few coping strategies to make talking the exam possible and/or bearable, and we were also able to help create the best possible environment for them in the exam itself.

Good luck with your studies aysa. You have taken a really positive step. And do choose courses that you think you will enjoy!

parker Sun 02-Dec-12 18:39:38

Iam doing the History decree and took my first exam this year, I was terrified! I passed and am loving it. I have just started my third module and the exam no longer worries me, I am afraid that there are now no level 2 without exams but some level 3. I would say I am doing it because I missed out as I could not afford it and I am trying to prove I can do it. It is a great experience and worth the exam stretch. My memory is also not as good but I am still doing OK.

Nonu Sun 02-Dec-12 18:48:29

Well done to all OU "s out there [festive smile]

annodomini Sun 02-Dec-12 19:25:38

Nice work, parker. Glad you have got over your fear of exams and I hope you continue to enjoy your studies. I've heard it said more than once that education is too good for the young! You bring life experience to study when you are mature.

vampirequeen Sun 02-Dec-12 20:47:34

I did my History Hons with the OU. It was brilliant. Just relax and enjoy it. I'm rubbish at exams but I got through. You get loads of advice and help with revision.

parker Sun 13-Jan-13 17:48:43

I took this course as the first module for a history degree, I am now on my third module. I found the exam much better than I expected, indeed I did better than on assignments. They do give you a lot of information in the paper and so long as you can remember the context and write a rasonable essay you will be fine. By the way I'm 69 so don't have the memory I had but passed!

nizyou Wed 27-Nov-13 12:21:36

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