My regular blog readers have heard my studying story before but I’m going to briefly explain my journey before I decided to study with The Open University.

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I was a bright child with big dreams of becoming a famous author or a children’s doctor. I seemed to get good grades even when I was being told off for chatting.

But everything changed at Sixth Form. The responsibility for my learning had started to shift away from my teachers and onto me. The workload increased and I couldn’t cope.

I didn’t know how to study and I was arrogant. I didn’t hand my homework in on time, I came to class with no paper or books yet I expected my teachers to do everything to help me.

Long story short – I finished Sixth Form with low grades and low self-esteem.

I had become disenchanted by learning and convinced I wasn’t good enough to go to university.

So I moved to Barbados instead! *enter cocktails and frizzy hair*

I worked there for 18 months then came back to the UK and spent another 2 years working. I gained a lot of work experience and had tons of fun spending my hard earned money on eating out, new clothes and visiting friends.

But I had a growing sense that I wasn’t happy with where my life was going. My confidence had risen through working and earning promotions, but I felt like I was missing the skills and knowledge to progress further.

I decided I wanted to investigate going to university to study Business. But I also knew that I wanted to continue working full time. I was used to the income and I wanted to move out of my Mum’s house, rent my own place and maybe even start saving for a mortgage.

I did a little research and realised I could have my cake and eat it (study and work) by becoming a distance learning student.

Distance learning is a method of remote studying where students do not need to attend face-to-face lessons.

Learning materials are either sent to the student or made available online. Tutor contact and support is delivered through email, phone calls or a virtual learning environment. There may also be some elements of face-to face contact such as tutorials or residential schools.

Benefits of distance learning

1. Study anywhere in the world

You’re not constrained to choose a university near your hometown or in a city you wouldn’t mind living in. Because your learning is delivered online you don’t have to stay in one place throughout your degree. You can travel or move towns and not disrupt your education.

2. Study when and how you want

Because the majority of your study will be independent and flexible, you can choose when in your day and week you study. Maybe you’re an early bird and perform better in the mornings before work or your family wakes up. Or maybe (like me) you’re a night owl and would prefer to study in the evenings.

Similarly, maybe you find you achieve more by studying little and often, 30-60 minutes every day. Or maybe you can only study in long bursts so prefer to get through your workload at the weekend. With distance learning, when you study is up to you.

3. You don’t need to put your life on hold

It’s possible to fit your education around all your other responsibilities. I know students who volunteer, care for family members or raise children. I know one woman who homeschools her children while studying herself and another who continued her degree even while pregnant and then studied while caring for her newborn baby.

Lots of students are able to work part time or even full time while studying. This means you’ll graduate with years of valuable work experience. If you’ve been able to work while studying you may get a head start against other students applying for the same jobs after university.

If you’re keen to move out of home, or start saving for travelling or even a mortgage – you can do all this and more while studying.

4. Lower costs

Distance learning courses are often cheaper than those at traditional campus universities. Lower costs mean lower final debt. Or it may even mean you’re able to pay off some or all of your education as you study.

5. Save time travelling to university

You won’t have to spend time travelling to and from face-to-face classes. As your studying is completed online you’ll be able to save time and spend this extra time getting more done or relaxing.

6. Gain extra skills

Distance learning teaches you to work independently, prioritise your workload, problem solve, motivate yourself and persevere even when you just want to give up. These skills are crazy valuable for your career or future studies.

7. Study in your pyjamas

I’ve left the best until last. If you want to study in your pyjamas, you can! (Just make sure you remember to put some real clothes on if you video chat with your tutor!)

So once I’d decided distance learning was right for me I had to choose my university. I researched lots of institutions online but a lot of them lacked what I really wanted.

Distance learning is a lot more flexible than traditional face-to-face studying. But lots of providers weren’t flexible enough for me.

Some only offered compulsory modules so I would have no choice in modules. Others were strict with how long you had to complete a degree. And I couldn’t find many that allowed for breaks in your study either.

I then saw an advert for The Open University so looked it up online. Within 10 minutes I knew this was where I wanted to study so I called them and spoke to a lovely woman who answered all my questions and got me signed up within 24 hours.

Everything happened so quickly. I rushed to buy stationery and I bought a desk on eBay. I remember going to pick it up and it barely fitting in my tiny car. I had to drive the whole way home with it sticking into my head every time I turned left!

I was terrified of going back to education but I knew everything would be different this time.

I still didn’t know HOW to study effectively, but my mindset had changed.

I had dropped the arrogance and was determined to work my butt off.

I chose to study with The Open University because it has all the benefits of distance learning I just described. But it also has many more.

Reasons to study with The Open University

1. No entry requirements

A university education should not just be for the highly academic or those with money. The Open University is truly open. Most of the courses have no formal entry requirements. So whether you’re previous grades are lower than you’d like or you have been out of education for years, the Open University is there for you.

If you’re determined to learn and put the effort in you can achieve the education you want

2. Flexible study

You can study part time or full time with The Open University. You can study multiple modules one year then slow it down the next. You can even take breaks if you want some time out.

You can often study modules in the order you want and some courses have multiple start dates throughout the year so it may be possible to earn a degree faster if you overlap or don’t take a summer break.

3. The Open University meets you where you’re at

If you don’t feel ready to jump into undergraduate study, The Open University offers Access courses too which will ease you in and teach you the skills needed to study at university level. You can start with an Access module to gain confidence and see if you like your chosen subject.

4. Open qualifications

For those of you who want a unique qualification that matches your varied interests, The Open University offers Open certificates, diplomas or degrees too. Here you can build your qualification through studying a wide range of modules and subjects.

5. Strong community

Most courses have online forums where you can connect with others on your course. Some courses have face-to-face tutorials too. There is a thriving Facebook community for Open University students with groups for individual modules and some that arrange meets up with students in your local area.

There’s also the Open University Students Association (OUSA) which allows students to find information and support, get involved with events, get connected with other students and influence how the university is run.

6. Various financial options

There are lots of options for paying for your study. You can apply for a tuition fee loan or try to secure funding from your employer. You can pay outright yourself or split the cost into monthly instalments.

7. You can transfer credit from previous study

If you’ve already completed some higher education you may be able to transfer credits to The Open University, reducing the number of modules you have to study and saving you time and money.

Studying with The Open University was the best decision I’ve ever made.

I learned that I am stronger than I think. I am able to solve problems and motivate myself to study even when I'd rather watch another episode of House of Cards.

So many opportunities have come from my Open University study, including this blog and business. I’ve had a year out since my graduation but I’m eager to jump back in this October to start studying creative writing.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you're a distance learning student or you’re thinking about it. I can try to answer any questions you might have.

RECAP! You should now know:

  • Distance learning is perfect for students who don’t want to put their life on hold while they gain an education
  • Why I chose to study with The Open University and why I think it's the best distance learning provider
  • That it is possible to study in your pyjamas and have your cake and eat it!

~ FREE TRAINING ~

How to Actually START Your Essay

Workbook + video training to take you from procrastination and overwhelm to understanding your question and mapping out your ideas with momentum. Easier, faster essay writing (and higher grades) await.

Start Your Essay

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