Category Archives: University

Open Uni: racing towards the end of my 3rd year of study

So here’s I am, at the beginning of April 2018, six months in and racing towards the end of my third year of Open University study. How on this earth I’ve reached this point already, I couldn’t tell you… But I have. Around this time three whole long years ago, I was at college, The Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford, wondering what the heck I was going to do with myself post June 13th; because by this point I’d already figured out I was leaving as quickly as I possibly could. Even then I don’t think I was really allowed to leave when I could. But back then I didn’t give a damn. I still don’t. But it is strange how your feelings towards things change over time, especially in hindsight. Now that I’ve been looking back on that segment of my life for quite some time, I wish I’d let it run its course, wish I hadn’t been so rushed to firmly leave it all behind me. But I did. And somewhere around this time three years ago, I was introduced to the idea of The Open University. I’d never heard of it until that employment support/further education/hell on earth session. That session when I was basically in unsweetened words told that I was wasting everyone’s time by being there if I didn’t come up with a serious plan about my plans for life after the little bubble I was in. Of course, I wasn’t listening to them. I did not care about a word they were saying, except for the hurtful ones that stung and sank in, like they always do. I wasn’t interested in furthering my education. I was interested in getting employed and supporting myself. I didn’t want to be sitting in classrooms again for at least the following three years studying towards a degree I didn’t really give a damn about. But they were adamant that that was the right path; for my benefit or for the college’s success rate I wasn’t too sure. But by this point three years ago, employment prospects weren’t looking bright. I still had no idea whatsoever what I wanted to do job-wise, let alone having a career! All I knew was that I wanted out of that situation, that college, that bubble and nothing whatsoever to do with anything similar anytime soon. So university? Not a chance in hell! But then that day. That day I was worn down to the point of tears. So frustrated by nobody listening to my ideas, which to be fair were few and mostly futile. Then those words: distance learning… The Open University… a different pathway… studying from home… a tailor-made degree… And I knew that was it. If they could cater for my additional needs, if there was a likely chance I wouldnt fall flat on my face attempting this thing and if, at long bloody last, it would shut those who’d been going on and on and on endlessly at me about going to university up, that was the answer. The Open University was the way.

So I signed up. At first, to study an open degree, a degree containing six modules of my choosing of any particular subjects I fancied. It didn’t’t have to follow any pattern, rule, particular subject area. It was all down to me. And after being told what I should do by so many people for so long, that sounded so refreshing to me. Plus, it meant I got things my way: studying from home and working towards something that might enhance my end goal of gaining employment. It all looked good. Even the signing up process was fairly simple. No UCAS. No writing special letters to get a place. Not even any pass grades necessary to secure me a spot on the cours. Just a uni application, student finance application and hope that everything went through smoothly.

Clearly, as I’m three years into the crazy journey, things went more than smoothly. In fact, I was accepted long before the deadline date of my first year and got stuck in straight away. Ive never received a score lower than the required pass mark of 40% and I haven’t quit, yet… No, I’m too close to that end goal to dare now. It would be throwing far too much away at a stupid point to do so. But I’m not as close to that end goal as I planned to be three years ago; three years ago when I signed up to the open degree, I planned to do two modules per year and be finishing my studies just after my21st birthday this May, ready to go and grab a job with both hands this summer. But due to my forever changing mind, that didn’t happen. My first year of study went perfectly. I studied AA100: the arts past and present, my first module, from October 2015 through to May 2016. In February 2016, I decided to add a second module to my calendar and began studying K101, my first Health and Social Care module. Then, in October 2016, I was signed up to complete my first full Literature module, A230. But then I changed my mind and decided I wanted to work towards a Health and Social Care degree instead. So the student support team successfully swapped my course from A230 to K118, telling me that K101 would count towards my now preferred degree but sadly my AA100 credits were useless. I was a bit sad about that as it had been the first module I’d chosen to do and I had enjoyed it. Just not as much as the Health and Social Care ones. Last year, I completed K118 by mid May and discovered I’d passed it in the July, by which point I’d registered to study my current modules. Because I was brave last July, I went back to my intended plan of doing two modules per year and therefore completing the degree quicker. I chose K217 and K240 to make up the whole Level 2 segment of my degree. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both modules, honestly. Doing two Level 2 modules side by side is a challenge and I’m not sure yet if I’m going to tackle two Level 3 modules simultaneously next year or not. It just depends on what other things I have going on, I’ve also been working with an employment support officer from my local council and I’m hoping soon something will come of that. Even if it’s only some voluntary work, it’ll be something to boost my CV.

Studying two modules side by side has given me some variation though, despite my struggles. It’s meant that when I’m getting bored of one module’s content, I can switch to studying the other one and not get too bored. It’s quite a lonely study choice, though, I feel. Having the supportive tutors is great and the support of the Facebook groups set up for each module is also a bonus. But there’s no face to face stuff any more. When I first started, there was monthly-ish face to face tutorials local to you to attend, which gave you an opportunity to discuss your study progress not only with your tutor but with fellow students. I was always too miserable to go and I think the university found that less and less people were attending the face to face sessions so called them off. There’s still the occasional day school for each module, but after the one I attended at the start of AA100 I’d never go to another. I just found it a complete waste of my time. Not only that but it was in Reading, a good little while away from me, and I had to take my parents to help me out. Not something I fancy doing again.

Recently, I’ve figured out how the tutor group and online forums work. Due to my still lacking ICT skills, I only ever attempted and failed to use the forums before. But now I’ve figured out how they work, for my future modules I’m going to make more of an effort to use them because now I can see how beneficial they are not only for communicating with your tutor in an alternative way to email, but with other students too. It might make future modules feel less isolating. I think OU would definitely be better if I was doing other things too; for example, a part-time job or voluntary role. But I still think, overall, it was the right pathway for me to take and I can’t wait to graduate either next summer or the summer after.

Currently, I’m completing the last two TMA’s (Tutor Marked Assignments) I have to do this academic year, one for each module. One deadline is the 26th of this month and the other is the 10th of May. Naturally, I’m currently working more on the one with the sooner deadline, which is for K217 and is 2500 words. It felt more complicated and hard work from the assignment guidance, too, so I want to get most of it done to the best of my ability before I even consider tackling the other one. Plus, if I don’t have time to tackle it until after the April 26th deadline, I still have two weeks to finish it before its own deadline. After that, I then have the exam components of both modules, K217’s an EMA (Examiner marked assignment), and for K240 my first OU exam. K217’s EMA question has already been released. It’s a follow-on project from TMA05, the one I’m currently working on. In TMA05, I have to write an interim report on a case study from the six we have to choose from about which types of health and social care services, in a locality of our choosing, can make the case study’s fictional character’s life better… it’s quite a mouthful! The case study I’ve chosen is about a 32-year-old man who’s recently been diagnosed with high-functioning Autism. Before his diagnosis, he worked and had an active life but gradually the stress and anxiety became too much for him and he withdrew into himself, losing his job in the process. His two main focuses are gaining employment again and getting into a relationship with someone. He’s also interested in joint a self-advocacy service in his local area to find support. Other support groups for people with Autism are also an option to him. His parents aren’t very understanding of his diagnosis but his brother is very supportive and wants to help in any way possible. So I have to chose a target audience to aim my report at and write it to them, using appropriate language and correct and factual sources to validate what I’m writing. I’m writing mine to informal carers of those who have a diagnosis of Autism, such as the main character’s brother, to inform them of what services are available to them and their relative. I’m basing my report in Hampshire, England, being my home county. You have to specify why you’ve chosen the particular case study and other than write “well this one looked good”, I thought I’d do a better job and explain that I’m hoping to go into a health and social care type of job after my degree, maybe even working with people with Autism, and so writing this report and conducting the research it requires allows me to delve deeper into that field and gain more insight into it than I would have had otherwise. So far, I’ve written a basic introduction to my report and started some of the sub-headings. Ive filled in a couple of them with some statistical and factual information I’ve found online. Ive started writing my reference list just so I don’t find myself miles behind with it when I’ve finished the report and having to comb through it to find all the references I made. I think keeping on top of the reference list will be very useful in helping ensure I’m including all the right information. It’s going to be a lengthy piece of work, I’m already feeling that, but I’m miles ahead with it compared to where I was with it this time last week. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing with it this time last week and was terrified I wasn’t going to be able to do much with it, resulting in a really low assignment score on my record, dragging my overall percentage down. Thankfully, I have a great tutor and had a lightbulb-ish moment and managed to pull something that doesn’t sound completely rubbish together. Next week, I’m hoping to get a lot further ahead with it. I’m hoping to have written a lot of the sections out and done a lot of the formatting. I know I still have a while until the deadline yet but I want to get it done asap. There’s still the other module’s TMA to consider and then the EMA. And exam, neither of which will be easy. I don’t want to lose any marks from hurriedly submitting something that isn’t that great, especially this late in the course. I’ve already had to do that once this academic year and that wasn’t a proud moment.

Ive done pretty well assignment score wise this year. I think the lowest I’ve had this year is possibly 63% but I’m more than happy with that as it’s still a safe 23% above the required pass of 40. Other than that, my scores have most been in the 70s range, the highest being 78. I’m happy with that, especially considering I’m studying two Level 2 modules simultaneously. I’d expected the scores for both modules to be lower and was going to settle for somewhere in the 50s for all assignments this year as long as it meant I passed both modules. But I’ve outdone my expectations, which is always a nice feeling. The only score I have to worry about is my latest submission for K240, which hasn’t been returned to me yet. I submitted it half finished, something I’ve never done for me, and at quite a low standard. But to be honest, I was just glad it got submitted at all. That was two weeks ago Monday and I’m still nervously awaiting the score. Luckily, my other two scores so far for K240 should make up for it if it is particularly bad like I’m predicting. Hopefully, though, as the final TMA for K240 doesn’t look to difficult from the assignment guidance and note taking I’ve done, I should be able to achieve quite a high score for it which will mean that the three decent TMA scores will keep the overall grade pretty high even with one low score, even if that score is worth 30% of the overall continuous mark, which in itself is worth 50% of the total mark for this module…

But there’s no point in panicking about it, getting wound up in percentages and scores and what ifs. I should pass and that’s all that matters. Unless something dramatically bad happens in my K240 exam, I should pass two Level 2 modules in one academic year. And for me, that’ll be an achievement and a “look, I can do it!”

So roughly two months left to go. The exam date if the 5th of June and that’s also my EMA deadline too. I’m hoping to have my EMA completed by the 27th of May, really, as that’s the date Kieran is coming to stay for my birthday and means I’ll only have to do revision for my K240 exam while he’s here. But we’ll just have to see. I’m not rushing my EMA, especially as it’s so important for my grade. But I’m sure I’ll do fine. I know that my panic about running out of time won’t reflect these words in about a week’s time, but I’m sure I’ll do fine… I have done two years running and things have been going really well running two modules side by side this year so there’s no reason why that can’t continue for the exam period too. I’ll be a really lucky girl if it does! Fingers crossed, though. Two months and it’ll be my summer break and I’ll have hours of study-free time ahead of me to do with whatever I wish. Two months time and I’ll be wishing for october to hurry up so I can get back to studying!


Open Uni: K118 results day

Amazingly, I am already 2 months into my Open Uni summer break and that can only mean one thing: results day was looming. Our module result date was set to be the 19th of July and after assessment marks being released, module result day is the most tense part of the whole academic year. Even if all your TMA’s have come back with outstanding grades throughout the module, on results day you’re still sitting there with the horrendous possibility that you may have still failed the module. To pass a Level 1 module, you have to receive 40% or higher in your overall continuous score, which is all your assessment scores combined, and then 40% or higher in your examinable component score, which is either an EMA (examiner marked assignment) or a physical exam. The dread that somehow you may have completely messed up your chances of passing by performing terribly in your EMA hangs over you until results day. Of course, if you do grade lower than 40%, your whole module experience is ruined. The OU are slightly generous in that they give you roughly 6 weeks after results day to resubmit your examinable component, giving you the chance to pass second time around.
My results were released a day earlier than scheduled. For about two weeks prior to the due date, everyone was checking their emails and student home obsessively, certain that results would be out early. As it turned out, we weren’t wrong but they were nowhere near as premature as last year.
Not that it mattered. On Tuesday 18th July around 11am, OU results were finally available. I happened to be out and about when the first posts of ecstasy appeared on Facebook announcing the exciting news. Immediately, I logged onto student home using my IPhone, uncertain of whether the mobile site would actually show my results, and held my breath.
Pass. That was the first word that VoiceOver read to me. Pass. Then, overal examinable score: 75; overall continuous assessment score: 76. To say I passed the pass grade boundary is definitely an understatement with those scores. I was hoping for scores in that region, to be honest. My previous two modules, AA100 the arts past and present and K101 an introduction to health and social care, both received similar scores to what I’ve managed to achieve with K118. This of course means that my two level 1 modules have set me a good standard for Level 2 and 3 of my degree. Although i was hoping for scores in the 70s or higher, there was of course a very valid chance that I wouldn’t do that well. I could have perhaps not done well with the EMA and scored lower than the required 40, or maybe just scraped the pass. Neither of those would have satisfied me. There was no reason why I should do that badly. To grade lower than 40% would be a real disgrace for me.
So I passed. I have a third Level 1 module securely under my belt and a strong foundation to the basis of my degree. I can easily progress to Level 2 without any concern about Level 1. In October, I’m signed up to start studying two Level 2 60 credit modules: K217 and K240. I can’t remember the full titles of them right now, but one is based solely on mental health and the other is a continuation of the ones I’ve already been studying. One has an EMA and one has a proper exam. I’m already nervous about the prospect of an actual exam but a friend of mine, who is also VI, has reassured me by explaining how well the process went for him. He’s doing an OU degree in law and had to sit an exam for his second Level 1 module. I’d of course prefer to have EMAs for all modules, but I’m not sure that’s even possible. I think there is a way to do it, but that way you’d have to stick to a very specific pathway with your degree and I like the idea of choosing whichever modules I fancy regardless of the examinable component.
Another bonus to July 18th this year was that I noticed my student finance application for the academic year of 2017/18 has been approved. I’ve been allowed the full loan amount to cover both modules. To say I’m relieved is an understatement. Obviously, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be granted my full loan request as I’ve had no disagreements with student finance in the past. It is nice to know that my studies are paid for for another year, though. I can’t imagine trying to fork out that kind of money to fund my own degree. My full loan amount is under £6000, though, which is a lot less than the cost of studying at a regular university. It is nice to know that if ever I’m in a position to repay my loan, I’ll be paying a lot less than I would have had I attended normal university, especially as I don’t have to add accommodation and living costs onto that already hefty cost.
Yet again, I’m ready to start back studying. It is very strange having this much free time on my hands. With no uni and no Zena either, I really have nothing to do with my time. I miss having study and a dog to fill up the long hours during the day while nobody else is home. In October, it will be nice to have something to focus all my attention and energy on again. The idea of being busy with two modules is more of a relief than a fear. Although, when I looked at my assessment calendar on Monday night, I was a bit daunted by how many TMA’s I’ll be completing in such a short space of time. But I feel ready for the challenge. Just like the last 2 years of Open University study, I’m going to give it my best shot and am hoping to end up with as good if not better grades than I’ve already achieved so far. According to my sister, the scores I’ve managed in both K118 and K101 are equal to a first in degree pass grades. There’s no way I could have ever hoped for more than that. I plan to keep it at that high standard. If I can continue getting those kind of scores at Levels 2 and 3, I’ll be coming out of this degree with something I thought was impossible for me to achieve. A first in a degree is a pretty amazing achievement so if i can manage that, I’ll have surpassed all my academic dreams. That’s what I’m aiming for, anyway. Whether I get there is currently a mystery. But for now, I’m pretty chuffed with a high pass in K118. 

Open Uni: the end of K118

Amazingly, my third Open University module has come to its end. I can’t believe how fast time has flown since I quit the literature module and switched across to my second Health and Social Care one. The process of getting onto this module was complicated and full of hurdles, but as soon as I was enrolled and had contact with the relevant support staff, time started to fly by. I’ve just this week, a week earlier than the due date, submitted my EMA (End-Of-Module Assessment) and have started my very long five-month OU holiday. It seems crazy that the module is over already and that I have finally completed Level 1 OU study, for the last time! Of course, technically I finished Level 1 study in September after completing both K101: an introduction to health and social care and AA100: the arts past and present. But as soon as I decided to switch to a health and social degree in October last year, I made AA100 redundant. Despite the fact that I scored a decent pass in the module, it cannot count towards any of my degree for the simple fact that it is the wrong subject area. History, literature and art doesn’t count towards health and social care. But a second health and social care module has easily fixed that. Of course, it means that I’m now a year behind on the schedule I had for completing my Open University career. If I can complete two Level 2 modules in the next academic year and then two Level 3 modules in the academic year following that, it’ll only have added an extra year on to my journey. However, if, as all the advisers have warned, I’m unable to achieve that giant goal, I’ll be adding extra years on to my intention for each module taken. As job searching isn’t going too well currently, this may not be the worst thing in the world. I’m already feeling boredom creeping over me and I’m only five days into my five-month OU break so dragging the degree out while I hunt for employment might be worthwhile. At least I’m not sat around doing nothing. Even if this degree contributes nothing towards the employment I finally manage, at least I don’t yet have any worrying gaps in my CV. That’s when employers start questioning things and doubting your competence and reliability.

The final TMA (Tutor-Marked-Assignment) of the module was particularly difficult. It took quite a lot of my energy to complete this assignment but it was definitely worth all the hard work as I achieved a respectable 76 percent. Alongside the TMA’s, there has also been three ICMA’s (Interactive-Computer-Marked-Assignments) to complete. As I said in a previous post, I was worried at the beginning of the module whether I’d be able to participate in these at all. My tutor explained that they were a lot like the quizzes throughout K101, except that the quizzes had been voluntary and the ICMA’s were not only compulsory but counted towards our final OCAS grade. Even though only a tiny percentage, it was still a little way to boost your grade. Also, it meant that if you did particularly badly with a TMA but got good grades in an ICMA, you had that tiny glimmer of hope that your OCAS would be saved a little. I was almost spot on about completing them, though. It was a bit of a disaster; several of the questions were diagram or graph based or had drag-and-drop features. These are totally useless to me and usually I’d just bypass them, hoping that my marks in the other questions would make up for it. In all three of the ICMA’s I got grades of 63 percent. The pass mark, for everything, is 40 percent so I surpassed that easily. To say that I didn’t answer all the questions for each assignment, I think I did quite well.

For the rest of the TMA’s, I scored pretty good grades. Chronologically, they are as follows: 88, 95, 65 and 76. I think the fact that the first two grades were very high and the final two a little lower reflects the difference in difficulty of the assignments themselves. The final two TMA’s were a lot harder than the first two seemed to be. However, I’m pretty thrilled with the scores overall. Even 65 is a good 25 percent above the necessary pass level. Also, they don’t go anywhere near my two lowest grades scored for other modules of 53 and 58. So it’s an improvement overall. I’ve just got to hope that my EMA can do the same. As long as I’m over the 40 percent necessary pass level, however, I’ll have passed the module easily. The calculator on the OU website predicts my OCAS (Overall-Continuous-Assessment-Score) as somewhere around 75 percent, which of course is pretty high and would be a good achievement if it goes through the moderators the same. If my EMA score could be close to that, I’d be thrilled. But either way, as long as I’ve passed the module, I’ll be happy and able to continue on to Level 2 with a solid foundation to my degree.

The EMA itself was quite difficult. It was split into two parts, an essay-style question and a non-essay question. When I first read through the assessment guidance, I was terrified. It looked impossible. But with the help of my tutor and the student Facebook support group, the aim of the questions finally came into focus. I threw myself into tackling the second question — the non-essay question — first because it looked a little simpler. The purpose of the question, to my understanding, was to take a website related to one of the topics studied throughout the module and analyse against a criteria we’d used to figure out the reliability of sources during our studies. As soon as I understood the question, I knew which website I wanted to analyse. My sister, Imi, writes her own blog. It’s become quite famous, actually, and has loads of subscribers. It has its own Facebook page and she updates it regularly. It’s called Upside Down Chronicles and mostly talks about her experiences with mental illness as well as some posts discussing her blindness. It fit the criteria perfectly as one of the main topics we covered was mental health and mental illness. I’m not sure how well I actually completed the question. I did what I thought the guidance was asking of us and met the word allowance easily. But I didn’t include any material from the learning guides and think maybe if I had my overall grade might have been boosted. But my tutor reassured me I didn’t need to as it was my own analysis.

The second question was a bit more of a challenge. The question asked us to discuss how combining the models we’ve learnt about with case studies used to back them up makes for a better understanding of the theory overall. We had to choose a model from each block, which made three models in total, and talk about the case studies that we’d studied alongside each one. Again, I felt like, eventually, I completed the question to quite a high standard. I felt like I addressed all of the pointers made in the guidance and did a good job of describing the benefits of combining the two, using evidence to verify my reasoning. But I guess I’ll just have to wait and see for result release day. The module website advises that our results should be available no later than the nineteenth of July. They have to have all the assignments marked and validated before they can release anyone’s results so I guess waiting two months for our grades isn’t a big ask. There’s thousands of students studying this module at any one time. I don’t mind, anyway. I’m quietly confident that I’ll have passed the module. My OCAS predicted grade suggests I’ll be fine. Unless I completed the EMA really wrong I’ll be fine. I’m quite sure I didn’t get it totally wrong.

So, another module over. One more towards my degree. Evidently, it’s not as far ahead as I’d hoped to be by this point when I signed up to be an Open University student. By now, I’d banked on being about to start Level 3 study. Clearly, I’m nowhere near that. But I’m trying my best and really I think that’s all I can do. Changing the degree pathway was my own choice but by the grades I’ve been achieving throughout this module, I’m quite sure it was the right decision regardless of the additional time it takes me to fully complete the degree. I’m just praying that Level 2 and Level 3 study go this well. If they do, I’ll be a very lucky girl.

Open Uni: K118 update 23/01/2016

It seems ages since I last wrote a post about my studies so I thought I might as well do a quick update now. When I wrote last time, I think I’d just received my first TMA score back, a surprisingly high grade of 88, my highest score so far. Since then, the second assignment has been submitted and returned, Christmas has been celebrated and we’ve almost sailed all the way through the first month of 2017. My 2016 was incredible in my personal life and for my studies. When I started studying with The Open University, at the time towards an Open Degree because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I never imagined that I’d pass my first two modules within a year and be headed for Level 2 study by the time the second October rolled around. Of course, if I hadn’t changed my mind and degree path, swapping from the Open to a Health and Social Care degree, I’d probably be well on my way to completing my first Level 2 module and starting my second Level 2 module now. But obviously I wasn’t happy. In fact, the Literature module I’d chosen to start studying last October was making me miserable, more miserable than I’d been with any of my other study material so far. So a change was in order. Health and Social just seemed the right way to go, especially as I’d loved it at college and enjoyed the introductory module which I’d only just received my pass grade in. Not long after I discovered I’d passed K101, I started studying towards K118, Perspectives in Health and Social Care, the second Level 1 module recommended for a Health and Social Care degree specialising in mental health, the pathway I’d decided to head along. Apparently, Perspective in Health and Social Care is also the recommended follow-on module to K101 so it seemed sensible not to rock the boat any further than I already had.

As my 88 score suggests, I’m loving the new Health and Social module. It is widening my studies in Health and Social Care nicely. As soon as I’d finished with the first assignment, I dived head first into the second, already being a month behind and having to request two extensions for the first two assignments. I received the results of my second assignment the day before Christmas Eve and was absolutely thrilled to have boosted my highest score ever to 95. I have mo idea why I’ve suddenly had a massive boost in grade but I’m really pleased with it and I’m hoping to continue my lucky streak with the rest of the work for K118. If I can come out with a really high grade for this module, it’ll add to my decent score for K101 and make my Level 1 section of the degree a sturdy base to jump from for Level 2. According to some of the students on the Facebook groups, Level 1 doesn’t actually count towards your finally score for your degree but I figure that the higher I can get for Level 1, the better place I’ll be in for Level 2. At least if the overall Level 1 score is high, I’ll definitely be able to pass on to Level 2 without any hiccups.

Since Christmas, I hadn’t really worked that hard. But as soon as I came home from a visit to Blyth a week and a half ago, I’ve worked every day to get up-to-date and ahead with the Study Planner. I wouldn’t be so bothered about getting ahead usually but I’ve been informed by Seeing Dogs’ mobility instructor that I start training a week today. Obviously, I’m very excited and nervous all at once and also a little worried about my studies. I know they are going to have to take a massive backseat for the next couple of months while I train, hopefully qualify and build up a relationship with my new dog. She’s coming to stay with me on Friday for the weekend before our training starts next Monday so really I have until Friday to get as far ahead with my studies as possible. The third assignment is due for submission on the sixteenth of next month, right in the middle of my training, so I’m doing my best to have it finished and submitted by Friday morning. I don’t know yet what time Zena is due to arrive but know that if it is in the morning, I won’t have much time for work. There’s a possibility that I’ll be able to work around training, but I’m aware that the training could be very intense and tiring so I don’t want to take any risks with getting behind again with work. I certainly cannot miss a deadline for an assignment and refuse to ask for another extension. The first two were only necessary because I started the module late, which was my own choice, and I don’t really want to make it a recurring theme throughout this module. I only had one extension last year and that was when an assignment for each module’s deadline dates were the same day. One of the assignment was the exam so I needed that time to concentrate on the exam rather than the other a little less important assignment. I received good results in both so an extension was the right thing to ask for at the time. My tutor granting me extensions this time was the right thing too because I was already far too behind to catch up by the first and second submission dates. The extension has allowed me to focus on both assignments and work hard towards the great results I’ve received. My two highest grades so far whilst studying! When I transferred back to Health and Social Care from Literature and changed my degree pathway, never did I think it would work out as well as it has so far. Obviously, it could all backfire badly on me and everything could go downhill from here. But 88 and 95 are a really good start to this course and, despite the sometimes reluctance to spend time learning, I’m still engaged in what I’m doing. Sometimes other things preoccupy my mind and sometimes the information in the online activities goes well over my head, but overall I’m enjoying it a lot. That is definitely increased by the two grades I’ve received so far and the knowledge that I’m aiming towards something solid now. I’m aiming towards a degree in Health and Social Care which will hopefully enable me to get an apprenticeship or job in some kind of social work setting, helping me struggling with their mental health problems. I’m not sure how I can help or what kind of job I’ll end up with but at least this degree actually has something it’s tailored towards. In the end I realised that although the Open Degree might demonstrate that I’m flexible in what I can do, it may also suggest that I’m indecisive and won’t stick to anything long-term. I’m hoping that the Health and Social degree will show the complete opposite: that I really want some kind of career helping people struggling with their mental health and that I’ve worked hard towards achieving that. Even if I don’t end up in that area of work, at least I’ll have the degree behind me to support further applications. And at least I’m enjoying this area of study. Maybe next year when Level 2 is tough and I’m trying to do two modules side by side because they only start once a year I’ll have a different attitude. But I’m hoping to hold on to this positivity for a Health and Social degree.

In working towards my hope of behind super ahead by the time Zena comes, I’ve caught up with the Study Planner activities and looked at the assignment question. It is split into four separate questions this time, adding up to 1000 words in total. The first two questions are 300 words each, followed by a 250 word answer and a 150 word answer. I’m really pleased with the fact that I’ve managed to finish one of the 300 word questions, including referencing and the correct formatting. I’ve also started the 250 word question, which includes the need for a screen shot of a website. My IT skills still haven’t developed as far as I’d like them to and so I had no idea what I was supposed to do to get this screen shot for the assignment. I asked Kieran for help, knowing he’d know what to do, but after a search on my laptop for a print screen key, we came up empty handed. I still have an old Braille keyboard given to me by my IT teacher at college and Kieran told me which key it would be. Thankfully, that was the end of our print screen problems. This afternoon, I managed to start on the print screen question. Also, over the last week I have finished the first question of the assignment, too, so I only have two and a half questions left as well as one week’s worth of online activities. As I’ve been managing to do a week’s worth each day, roughly, I’m hoping it won’t take long to do the last week’s worth. Also, the remainder of the print screen question doesn’t seem too tricky so I’m hoping to have that finished soon as well. The fourth question asks you to write 150 words’ worth of advice to anther student about how to avoid plagiarism and I’m hoping that won’t be too tough. The other 300 words’ worth that is left relies on the final week’s worth of online activities that I haven’t yet completed. As long as I can find enough material to help me write an answer to the question, I shouldn’t have too much difficulty in finishing that part of the assignment, either. So, fingers crossed, I may even be able to finish the whole lot by sometime on Friday, my deadline before dog training. If it runs over, I’m hoping it won’t be by much and I’ll have enough time to round everything off nicely before my full focus becomes my new furry assistant.

Open Uni: a new start

Last time I wrote a university-related post, I was in the process of changing my degree from the Open Degree that I originally chose before I left college, to a Health and Social Care degree, which I’ve decided will be a lot more beneficial to me employability-wise. Perhaps the Open Degree would have been looked upon by employers as a broad range of skills, demonstrating my flexibility, but I think specialising in one subject would imply dedication to the area I’ve chosen. Also, a job in the social sector seems like something I’d like to do. I’d like to be able to help people who’ve had or are having a tough time with life. Plus, I really enjoyed the AS Level of Health and Social at college and the module K101 An Introduction To Health and Social Care which I completed in September.


The process of transfering modules wasn’t as speedy as I’d hoped. Of course, this is absolutely my own fault for not making the decision quicker. If I’d decided before the 1st of October, there would have been no hassle in swapping modules because it would be done before the start date. Fortunately, though, I have successfully transfered across from A230 Studying Literature to K118 Perspectives In Health and Social Care. It’s a follow-on module from K101 and a path many people take in their studies towards a health and social degree. To begin with, there was uncertainty about whether I’d be able to start the module this October – and if I couldn’t, I would have had to wait until February to start a different Level 1 module to complete stage 1 of the degree – because they weren’t sure whether they’d be able to assign me to a tutor group or get the module materials out to me in PDF, because not all of them were showing as available on the website. However, the materials were sent to me swiftly. Then, there was an error of communication between teams because my recruitment didn’t happen as fast as it should have. Eventually, though, I managed to speak to Student Support and be passed on to the recruitment team who completed the process super quick. And then I was registered; the website was available to me and a few days later, I was assigned a tutor. She’s the same lady I had for K101 which is really great because we already have an understanding between us of how I work and how she marks.


The extra big positive to all this is that, before I went up North for a little while, I received my module results for K101. I PASSED! The percentages were slightly higher for OCAS and the exam than they were for AA100. As I was in the process of transfering at the time, I was really pleased to have this positive result come in. Also, it is one step towards my new Health and Social Care degree. Sadly, my AA100 result doesn’t count towards my degree at all. It is worthless credit-wise so it is just a loose extra. But it can go on my CV because it’s a 60 credit pass grade whether it counts for anything or not. I’m glad I studied AA100 because it made me realise that actually maybe Literature isn’t for me. A230 just solidified that thought into a decision. Already, I am enjoying K118 a lot more than I was A230. Tomorrow, I have a phone call scheduled with my tutor to discuss how to progress with the module, taking into consideration my late start. She’s already given me a 3-week extension, starting last Thursday. I’m trying my best to crack on with the first assignment and I’d like to be caught up by Christmas but I’m not sure whether that will be possible as the second TMA and also the online assignment are due at the beginning of December. If she’ll grant me another extension for these though, I think I could catch up by the new year.


Obviously, as I have to do another Level 1 module, it means I won’t complete the degree in the time frame I had in mind. It means that I’ll have taken two years to do the first two modules and then hopefully I’ll be able to do two modules per year and complete it in 4 years. Who knows though? I don’t know how much work is involved in each module for Level 2 and 3. There might just be too much to complete 2 per year. But that’s still the aim I have. 4 years is one thing; 6 is still far too many. I don’t think I’d stay interested for that long. I hope I can keep hold of my enthusiasm for this subject for as long as my studies last so that i achieve a high level in my degree. If I can only do one module per year, I intend to find an apprenticeship to start and fit my OU studies around that. I want to be doing something. I don’t want to just sit and study for the next three years. I need to fill my life with more than that.


So far, I am enjoying K118. It is led out the same as K101 with learning guides each week and other activities to complete. I’m mostly doing them on my laptop at the moment, because I’m finding it easier to tab between notes and the current section on the website I’m reading from. I’m still going to do my assignments on my BrailleNote, taking the notes from my laptop across to it and working from them. My plan is to get this first assignment done to a high standard by my extended deadline and then work hard to catch up with the set working place of the course. I think I’m going to continue to enjoy this module, though, and I hope my choice to do a health and social degree pays off.

Open Uni: changing my mind

So, we are now more than halfway through October and I should be studying hard towards completing my assignment for my third module, which started on the 1st of this month. However, after a drastic change of heart, I’m doing no studying whatsoever. instead, I’m waiting to hear from the Arts And Humanities student support team regarding whether I can have an immediate swap from my current module, A230 Reading and Studying Literature, to a Level 1 module, K118. K118 is another health and social module and if I atudied it it would complete my first level towards a health and social degree.


After a really rubbish day last week on which I felt very low and questioned why I was even doing OU study in the first place, I started to consider other options. I looked into apprenticeships, signing up for updates from the government website about available placements in my area. That in itself was pretty disheartening as each time I looked at the requirements of the post, I questioned if I had the capabilities to complete all the tasks listed. Most of the time, I came up with a no. Two days later, as I was chatting to my sister about some fantastic news I’d received, I explained to her how I didn’t feel this was working anymore and how the literature module was just making me miserable. I guess starting with the study of Othello wasn’t really going to make me cheery but I really was finding any excuse to switch off and not do the work. by the end of our conversation, I decided that I needed to phone student support and see what I could do to change my qualification.


When I chose to study with the OU back in April 2015, I picked the open degree because I wanted flexibility, because I thought I’d get bored if I stuck to one subject. Also, I just wanted a degree because everyone at college pushed the point that with a degree you were more likely to get a job and going from college straight into employment was near on impossible. Since then, everything about my life has changed, I’m not doing anything I was a year ago. A year ago, I spent all of my time in Poole with the guy who was then my fiance. We weren’t going anywhere and didn’t make plans to move forward. I was doing my degree by day and enjoying the company of him and his family by night. Occationally, I’d come home to spend time with my family, who, a month into my degree, splintered in two. A year ago, nothing was as it is now. Now, I spend the majority of my time by myself at home in my room studying towards a degree that will get me God knows where. Occationally, I travel to see my other half or he travels here. During those times, the last thing I want to think about let alone do is study, especially if the module holds little to no interest for me. Right now, I’m cramming in learning as many routes as I can because I had a phone call last week saying I’d been matched with Seeing Dog Zena, that we’ll start training in the new year. After the week I’d started to have, that really was quite amazing news. But it didn’t fix or help the issues I’ve already got. Training and hopefully qualifying with Zena means I’ll be out of the house a lot more, a lot more active, which is great for my confidence and general wellbeing but really not for my studies. For the last year, I have had no reason to miss study time, except the few days spent travelling or seeing important people. But now I really have something to achieve. All my life i’ve wanted to be independent and wanted a Guide Dog and now I have the opportunity for both of those things. In three months time, I’ll start training and all at once my whole life, for a whole month, will revolve around training with Zena and learning countless new things. When, if, we qualify, I then have to maintain her training and go out all the time to strengthen our partnership and my independence. Where, in all of that, am I going to fit a ridiculously boring and tedious module? And what is that module even leading towards? A degree in not much of everything. A year ago I was certain that’s what I wanted. Now, I’m 100% convinced it really isn’t.


So I rang student support. I explained my late realisation and what I’d like to do, if it’s at all possible. As we’re only a couple of weeks into the module, there is a possibility that I can transfer straight across to K118 and catch up with a lot of hard work on my part. The issue they have is that currently the material isn’t all available in PDF. There are DAISY books, but as I’m not confident at using them I really would rather not take the risk with them and wait to see if PDF’s can be made available to me. The problem, of course, is that the module is already in progress and the longer it takes for them, if they can, to make material available to me, the further behind I’ll  be if I can start and the less likely it will actually be for e to start. At the moment, as I sit waiting to hear back from student support after chasing up my request about an hour ago, I’m still a little hopeful that I’ll be able to start late and catch up. Otherwise, I have to wait until the end of January to start a different Level 1 module and go from there. Starting again in January puts my ideal of completing the degree in the usual three years completely out of the window. Starting K118 late this month means it’ll be three and a half years if I can cram all the modules in. Already, I’m not going to finish it when I originally predicted to. But what’s the rush, I guess. It’s not like I have the ideal job in mind and I’m aiming towards a definite employment position. I’d much rather do a degree, and take longer than I’d hoped, in something that might one day lead me into employment in something that I can at least enjoy a bit. My indecision about all of this frustrates me because I just wish I knew 100% the right thing to do, had a concrete job in mind that I was aiming towards. Instead, I guess I’ll just have to go with this new plan and see where it takes me, providing student support actually come back with an answer for me. Ideally, I’d like to start K118  late and go from there but luck probably won’t be on my side. Materials probably won’t be available in PDF quickly and then I’ll have to start again in january. If this is the case, I’m going to have to find a balance between dog training, studying and the rest of my life. Somehow, I’ll have to do it. Not sure how, yet, but I’m relying on figuring it out at some point…

Open Uni K101 Week 30

I am on holiday! I am on holiday! I am on HOLIDAY! I really really am. After starting study with the Open University last October with my first module, I don’t think I’ve had more than a week off. Even if I have, I’ve still had work to go back to so I’ve had studying on my mind. But for the next almost a month, I don’t need to think about studying anything. And that truly is amazing! I have to keep my mind on my next module starting on the 1st of October and make sure I have all the necessary materials before its start date, but other than that I have nothing uni related to think about. There’s no point in even worrying about my K101 result for at least a month, either, because results aren’t due out until the 28th of October.


The last few weeks of OU study have been rather crazy. I didn’t manage to shift my reluctance and laziness like I’d hoped to so I do fear the exam I’ve just submitted isn’t quite as good as I could have made it if I’d put a bit more effort in. But I can’t say I didn’t try, because I definitely did. I followed the instructions on our EMA paper and wrote the four required answers to the questions I’d selected, sticking as close to the word limit as I could. I’m only 10 words over the allowed 2000, so really I think that’s quite good going. To be fair, how I managed to drag each question beyond 200 words is a mystery. There really wasn’t anywhere near enough to write for each one. From posts on the Facebook group, I noticed that this was a widely shared opinion. The Facebook group really helped in the toughest moments, giving me suggestions of what to write and pointing me in the right direction to find the material.


I’ve come a lot closer to deadline day than I expected to to submit my work. That seems proof enough to me that I did try hard to make the exam content as good as I could. Yeah, so I have spent a lot of August curled up on my bed reading books. I know, that time could’ve been better spent slaving over the EMA, ensuring I got a great pass grade. But the summer has been warm and whatever else are summers for if it isn’t being comfy reading books? Plus, like I said, I managed the required task. Not half an hour ago was a polished exam submitted online to the university. Even if the mark is lower than I’m hoping for, I’m almost certain it’ll be above the needed 40% pass. I’ve never received anything under 50 so even if this only just scrapes that, I’ll still have done it. This isn’t the worst piece of work I’ve ever submitted so I’m hopeful it’ll grade OK.


Obviously, I’m more than intending to focus a lot harder in October when I start Level 2 with A230 reading and studying literature. I’m excited about studying this module because I always enjoyed literature at school and college and am hopeful that streak will continue here. I got good grades at A Level and GCSE with it, too, so maybe I can highly achieve here. Here’s hoping, anyway. My mailing came sometime last week, containing all the printed materials I’d need if I happened to be a sighted student. Of course, they’d make a more useful doorstop to me than textbooks. Some would feel happy at the inclusion but I don’t see the point. It’s just a waste of paper. But I guess it takes more effort on their part to go through the mailing list and take all the students who don’t require printed materials off than to just leave it how it is. I shouldn’t complain I suppose. Really, I’ve been very lucky studying with the OU so far. It’s certainly gone a lot better than I thought it would this time last year and for that I’m incredibly grateful. I’m looking forward to receiving my results from K101 and then starting A230. If, god forbid, I do fail K101 and can’t resit the exam, I’ll find another Level 1 module and complete that alongside A230. It’ll mess up my plan to start a second module in February, but I’ll do anything to pass this degree, to have the satisfaction in knowing I did it and the paperwork to prove it and wave it in any person who thought I couldn’t do it’s face. I’m not a bitter person, I swear.


So for the next few weeks I’ll be doing just as much I can with my life. This weekend, I’m off up the country to see my sister again. It’s going to be just us this weekend and I can’t wait. We haven’t had time for just us since before she left college 2 years ago. It seems mad to think that it’s really that long ago but time does pass without you noticing. Today 8 years ago since I started secondary school. I remember that day relatively well. 3 years ago to the day tomorrow, I travelled up to Hereford and started my time at RNC. I definitely remember that day well. Where did that time go?! In a few years, I’ll be saying exactly the same about the OU. Crazy, just crazy.

Open Uni: K101 Week27

So, K101 really is drawing to a close now. I am on week 27, with 3 weeks to go until it’s all over, and I can’t believe how quickly it has flown since I first started studying with the OU, 10 and a half months ago. I’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved in these 10 and a half months, too; one module completed and passed and I’m on my way to hopefully doing that with my second. 3 weeks after I finish K101, I will be starting Level 2 of OU study with a Literature module I always planned to take right back when I first looked at this course.


As deadline day was last week, I had TMA05 polished and submitted on Wednesday. I think that may be the closest I’ve ever gotten to submitting on deadline day. I wanted to make sure this assignment was as good as I could possibly make it, partially because it’s worth 30% of my overall continuous score and also to make up for my lower grade on TMA04. When I first started to attack TMA05, I was a little apprehensive about it. It didn’t look too simple and I wasn’t sure how well I’d be able to complete it. But I managed to make the 2000 words up eventually, with what I think was a good introduction, main body and conclusion. The introduction and conclusion were quite lengthy, which I think is good for a longer essay; I hope my tutor agrees. I really need her to grade me well in this assignment so I have a decent OCAS pass.


As soon as the assignment was submitted, I threw myself into preparing my exam. Our exam questions were released last Saturday and I downloaded them in the morning, browsing them quickly and briefly considering which ones I’d choose. They gave you 9 options, from which you have to pick and answer 4 in 500 word pieces. I wasn’t sure about writing in such limited amount of words, but now that I’ve had a good go at one of the questions, I’m mighty glad they only require 500 words each. I don’t think there would be a whisper more to say over 500 words. The questions ask quite simple things and we just have to find material throughout the course books relating to the topic and use it wisely to answer each question. I’m really pleased I’ve made a good start on the exam and intend to spend as much possible time as I can on answering the other questions during the next few weeks. The exam needs to be submitted by noon on the 8th of September, so that’s what I have to aim for. I’m confident that I’ll manage it after my positive burst on Friday which left me  with 1 question almost completed. That just needs a little polishing and it’ll be done.


I decided to start on Friday with the question that looked the easiest, because the subject matter it required was from material I’d recently studied. I thought it made sense to start there as my brain was still a bit scrambled from the effort I put into TMA05. But I knew I needed to get as far into the EMA as I possibly could because I don’t have any time to waste being complacent. That should have been a mental rule for this module, but I seem to have done just that for a lot of it. I’m going to try a lot harder in October when Level 2 starts to spend more hours each day actually working on my studies. I’ve done enough with K101 – I’d be failing miserably if I hadn’t – but there’s no doubt I could have worked harder, probably achieving higher marks in the process. As long as I pass it and have a solid Level 1 qualification to take me forward to Level 2 I don’t care. When I get to Level 2, I can plunge my frustrations with myself of being lazy and my good pass into A230 Studying Literature and smash it. I’d like to keep progressing, keep getting higher and higher scores with each assignment, exam and module result. I know the only way to do that is to throw all my efforts into studying. I’ve never been a very focused person, I’m so easily distracted, but I know I can do it. I may never get a top grade degree in the end, I’m nowhere near expecting that, but I can at least get a decent degree result, something to be proud of. If I can manage that then this whole thing will have been worth it.

Open Uni: K101 Week23

Well, these last couple of weeks have been quite hectic OU wise. They’ve been quite busy concerning the rest of my life, too, but the best thing happened on the 7th of July. I’d been busy sorting everything out ready for Kieran to come and stay and completely ignoring OU work when I was scrolling through Facebook and saw that someone on the AA100 page had said to check our StudentHome pages, that module results were in. So with shaking hands and butterflies in my stomach, I got out my laptop and went to the StudentHome page of the OU website. I found that the AA100 website had been closed and we could no longer access it. However, there was a link to view our module result. So I clicked it, just praying I’d passed. I didn’t care if I had the lowest pass possible, at 40% for OES and OCAS, just as long as I’d passed. And then the page loaded. At the top, under all the usual navigation links, there was my result. PASS. 78% for overall examinable score and 68% for overall continuous assignment score. The overall assignment score was a few percent higher than I’d originally calculated, so of course that was a little bonus. But the examinable grade… I couldn’t believe it. As soon as I’d heard the pass grade, a stupid grin had spread across my face but when I heard the 78% exam grade, well, I was quite sure I’d need stitches. 78%! I hadn’t even dreamed it would ever be that high. A minor addition of just 2% on that would have given me a distinction in the exam. It’s one of the highest grades I’ve ever received and I can’t put into words how absolutely thrilled I was. I text Kieran first, who was on a train on his way down to visit me for the weekend, and tried to tell him in composed English what had happened. Then, as soon as my Mum came through the front door, I ran downstairs and told her and Dad. I’d passed! I’d done it, that thing that so many people had discouraged me from trying and said would be pointless. A lot of people had said when I chose The Open University that I’d never manage it, that it would be a flop and I’d be much better off going to a regular university despite the disruption this would cause to my life because it would be better for me in the long term. I disagreed. Back then, I wasn’t interested in going to university, getting a degree or continuing my education at all. By the time I left college last year, I wanted a break from it all. I didn’t want anyone’s opinions because I was quite sure I could decide for myself. Anyway, by the time I left college, I’d made a decision. I’d joined as a student of the OU, signed up to my first module that would count towards an Open Degree, that they advised would take six years to complete, doing a module per year. I wasn’t satisfied with that. Most people complete a degree in three years, four at most, and I was determined to be no different. Plus, the idea of studying, either from home or at a regular university, for six years seemed like a terrible drag to me. So much can happen in six years and I didn’t want to drag the course on that long. So I decided that, as long as the first module started well, I would request an increase on my student loan and apply to start a second module in February. And, by the time I’d been studying AA100 no less than six weeks, I applied for that second module, K101 an introduction to health and social care. I can’t believe that the first module’s results are in and positive after all the discouragement I received before leaving college about doing it. Those people who suggested that I wouldn’t be able to do it and all the barriers that were put in my way made me feel like I couldn’t do it either. I didn’t believe I would. I was certain the result would come back as a fail, even though the grades suggested otherwise. But I have a pass. I am a sixth of the way towards a degree, slowly and hopefully creeeping towards a third of the way with K101 pushing on towards its end.


The reaction I received concerning my pass was brilliant and I really do appreciate all the congratulations from friends and family that flooded in. I wanted to prove to people that actually I was capable of doing it, of achieving this. Yeah, so maybe the timespan that module 1 has stretched over has been complicated and rocky for every other aspect of my life and maybe I have spent a lot of time complaining about this module, but I passed it. Even with all of my doubt, struggle and lack of motivation, I still passed it with a really healthy pass grade. If I had worked that little bit harder perhaps I would have received a distinction in the exam and if I’d perseveered more with the assignments, possibly even scraped a really low distinction in the overall continuous grade. But I didn’t. And do you know what? I wasn’t in the slightest bit bothered. Maybe in two years’ time when I receive my final degree grade – whether it be first, second, 2-1 or third or whatever they grade in – it’ll matter because I’ll wonder why I didn’t try harder, but for my first module, my first attempt, I’m pretty thrilled with the outcome. I couldn’t have hoped for more and I hadn’t, either, so to find that result gave me a major boost, not mentioning the stupid grin on my face that wouldn’t fade all night. So to anyone who thought it was a bad idea, to anyone who ever criticised my decision, take a look at my module record. I passed. I am on my way to that degree and that was only the start. Here’s hoping the module results keep coming in, maybe even steadily increasing in pass grade as they do. There’s no harm in being optimistic, after all, because it’ll only be me who’s disappointed in the long term if I don’t succeed in what I’ve just written. But to everyone who has encouraged and supported me over these last 10 months, thank you so so much, it’s helped a lot. To the staff from college who have lent a hand several times when I’ve been in seriously sticky situations, I appreciate it so much. To my IT genius, also thank you, mostly for the help with the essay formatting and all the computing things I didn’t know. I feel like I’ve learnt quite a lot to do with my laptop and I’m pleased with that, very appreciative that you taught me. Also, cheers for listening to my endless complaining about this module. It’s been a difficult year since I left college, with countless high highs and ridiculous lows, and you know that. But still you’ve been there even while I’ve been a pain in the arse, which stop denying I know I am, and that means more to me than any good grade and endless congratulations; because I wouldn’t have dealt with me and I know, even though it’s a cliche and you say I’d have been fine, that I really couldn’t have done it without you.


While I floated around on the glow of my first passed module, I was also waiting for the TMA04 grade to come in. It arrived the following morning and I opened it eagerly, daring to believe it might be even better than TMA03’s high score. But I’d been being too optimistic. The rose-tint colouring my view after the previous day’s spectacular surprise obviously made me greedy. The score was 58%, my second lowest grade received so far. To say I was disappointed would be a major understatement. The glow that I’d been floating on vanished and I was just sitting on the top step of my stairs, scrolling through reading my tutor’s feedback and feeling rubbish. The problem was that I’d thought I’d done really well with the assignment when I’d submitted it and had been positive it would grade well. So that’s where optimism hurts and is probably why I don’t bother hoping most of the time. Of course, the 58 is still a short 18% above the necessary pass grade but the assignment counts for 25% of my overall continuous score and that worries me. Unless I do really well on TMA05, which counts for a further 30% of the overall continuous score, my overall percentage is really going to suffer. Thinking that you’ve done something really good and then finding that actually it was pretty rubbish is quite painful, especially at this stage of the course and after having such good news the previous night. The happiness of my first module pass had evaporated and I was harshly reminded that one module isn’t enough. If I continue to slip on the second, if I even manage a pass the grade will be low and that will negatively impact on my overall degree level. A couple of people said I was being too harsh on myself but I don’t feel like that. Obviously I was too lazy whilst completing this last TMA so I need to work harder, not be so complacent when I find excuses not to study.


After my short burst of exhilaration followed by sharp disappointment, I knew I needed to focus more on the next assignment. That didn’t mean it became any easier to stay on track. Somehow, my mind is still wandering away from study and I’m probably not putting in as many hours as I should. I’m still doing the recommended amount that the uni suggests, but I don’t feel like that’s enough. Maybe it is, I don’t know. I have started working properly on TMA05. When I first started tackling it, it looked terrifying and I had no idea how I was going to complete it. But I’ve slowly started to work through it. My notes are composed and I’ve drafted a simple plan, because my tutor suggested my detailed one was too much, and have started writing the essay. I’m a good 200 words into it, with what I think is a really solid introduction. It’s a 1500 word essay so I think 200 words is a good meaty introduction, especially as I think I’ve included all the assessment booklet’s recommendations. Now I have to tackle the main bulk of the essay, which needs to be a balanced argument about whether evidence-based care is the best method to ensure effective care. I feel like this part will be more tricky, to shape my scrappy notes into a good balanced argument. The essay must conclude with a supported decision to answer the question. I already have my answer so I just need to work steadily towards it, using my tutor’s commentary on my last assignment as guidance to improve this one. It is absolutely vital that I make large improvements with this essay so that I receive a good score and boost my confidence for doing the exam. I need motivation for that so I can make it good too, so that I have another module pass in three months’ time, as I start Level 2 of OU study.


So this week, as I’ve said, will be spent working hard towards creating a good assignment. Today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year so far but luckily, as I’m on the coast, I shouldn’t get the 34dgC top heat predicted for the day. I’m thrilled about that as yesterday was clammy enough trying to work. It seems slightly cooler today, which is another bonus added to my motivation to work hard. Also, I have a good weekend ahead to look forward to, which starts on Thursday afternoon, so I have no reason to slack really. Hopefully it stays at this nice heat and I’m able to make steady progress in composing my essay. That’s my goal, anyway.

Open Uni: K101 Week21

Somehow, I seem to be flying through my second Level 1 module. As I said in my last uni post, AA100 has been finished for a while and K101 is creeping closer and closer to its end too. This week is week 21 which means I only have 9 weeks of Level 1 study left and then a 3-week break! That’s what I’m looking forward to the most. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to spend it doing or where I’ll be, but not having to do or think about any OU work at all is going to be bliss. I’ve come to enjoy being an OU student, but having some time off from it is definitely going to be nice. Hopefully, my 3-week gap between the end of K101 and the start date of my second year will give me time to be refreshed and raring to get started on A230. I want to at least start Level 2 optimistically. Whether that lasts for the duration is another story but as long as I start how I mean to go on I’ll be happy.


For now, though, I still have 9 weeks of K101 to get through which include a 1500 word TMA and a 2000 word EMA. I’m sure it’s not going to be a breeze, either. Thankfully, TMA04 is well and truly done. By the time it was formatted and submitted, I was actually quite pleased with what I’d written and am hopeful it’ll grade well. I think I worded my one-sided argument clearly and included everything it asked for. It was also within the word allowance, being 1002 words. OK, so literally 2 words over the asked for amount, but I’m sure that’s not going to be an issue. I actually finished TMA04 a week before the deadline, giving me a whole 7 days off, which I haven’t had for a while. It meant that I didn’t have to think about OU study while I spent time with Kieran in Hereford. It’s always nice to have no study worries on a weekend away so having TMA04 submitted was a great bonus to the weekend.


Once I came back from Hereford, it took me a while to get back into the right frame of mind to study. I think being away and knowing I was ahead of schedule made me lazy. But finally on Friday morning I dragged myself away from the TV and worked through a Learning Guide. I’ve realised that, seeing as our wifi still doesn’t load and play the videos I need to watch, reading the provided transcriptions is just as good. I’ve been able to do the activities attached to them just the same using the transcriptions. It’s slightly nicer reading the transcriptions, too, because I don’t have to deal with the cardboard acting on the videos. I’m really glad that I’ve found an alternative way to incorporate the videos, though, because I kind of felt like I was missing out on something. It felt like I hadn’t studied everything I should have because I couldn’t access the videos. The latest Learning Guide was quite interesting; it was all about keeping records in Health and Social Care situations, such as the red book for babies and medical records stored electronically at GP surgeries. It explained how practitioners have the power to withhold a person’s records if they feel it could cause harm to the patient themselves or other people around them. There was also a piece on how disabled people can request their medical records in accessible formats. I wasn’t aware that that was possible. Apparently it’s the practitioners’ responsibility to make sure their patients have their records in a format they can access. I like the idea of requesting my medical records in Braille and getting volumes upon volumes of them. Then, it went on to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of electronic and paper records. I’m not sure why this fascinated me so much but it was definitely an entertaining read on Friday morning.


I still feel that the work load is considerably light and I think that’s probably why I keep lacking in motivation to actually do the work, because I’ve got so much time to play with. I’m trying my best to stay motivated and work through it. I’m just using the 3-week break I have to look forward to to spur me on. However, because of the amount of spare time I have, I’m now 2 weeks ahead with the Learning Guides. This week, I think I’m studying the Learning Guide with the material for the next TMA and then when that’s done it’s just planning, writing and submitting the TMA. After that, all I have is 4 500 word answers to questions for the EMA and the module is finished. I’m still marveling at how fast the tie has gone! It really doesn’t seem like that long ago that I chose K101 as my next module and then downloaded all the PDF course materials from the website. I wasn’t sure whether I’d actually enjoy K101 at all, just going with the assumption that seeing as I enjoyed AS Health and Social Care I’d enjoy it at degree level. I’ve been pleasantly surprised, too, because even though some of the material has been boring, it’s been quite an enjoyable module and I’ve learnt quite a lot. I still don’t know if these modules will lead towards anything bigger and brighter in my future, but my guess is that they have to count for something good. Surely you don’t put all your efforts into a 3-year OU degree for it to count for nothing in your future? The Open University on Twitter posted the link advertising the Open Degree on Friday and I felt the need to retweet it because sometimes it’s hard to explain to people why I picked such a wide ranging degree and how it’ll benefit me in the future. Sometimes I’m not sure myself so it’s nice to give myself that little boost of “Oh yeah! That’s why I picked this degree!”. I picked it because I thought I’d enjoy studying a range of subjects and working from home. At the time, my circumstances fitted studying from home and being flexible in where I could study. As long as the place I was had wifi and I had my laptop, I would be able to study. I loved that idea of flexibility and it has paid off. Although my circumstances  have changed somewhat since applying for Open University and choosing the Open Degree, it still fits perfectly with my life. I can be as flexible as I like, studying at whatever times of day I want. I don’t have any set times and as long as I meet TMA deadlines nothing else really matters. That’s enabled me to continue meeting up with Kieran and Josh and catching up with family members. It means I have weekends almost completely work free and now that my workload has decreased, an increasing amount of weekdays free too. It meant that while AA100 and K101 overlapped, I was able to squeeze in both modules because I could work each day for however long I needed, not having to worry about other students or lectures. The two best parts of OU study are that I can be as antisocial as I like, which suits me very well, and I don’t have to sit through droning lengthy lectures. My time is better spent working at my own pace, completing the set activities and working towards each assignment. Although I’ve had really down times during both modules and have seriously considered quitting several times, I’ve now come to realise that actually I really enjoy this OU thing. I’ve enjoyed both sets of module materials, liking the broad range that I’ve been fortunate to study. As I said, the flexibility is amazing and the support I’ve had from both tutors so far has been great. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to continue without the help of my first tutor. She was brilliant; even though most of my queries were ridiculously trivial, she never failed to react to them in an encouraging way. The fact that my grades have always been well above the required pass of 40% has been a great motivator, too. I’m really proud that I’ve managed to achieve highly so far in the continuous assignment marks I’ve received and can only hope that’ll reflect positively when both final scores are in. I hope that my good streak will continue for Levels 2 and 3 as well. I suppose that’s all I can hope for from my studies really.


So this week I’ve got to study the next Learning Guide and try to start planning my next assignment. Kieran is down for the weekend from Thursday So I have until Thursday evening to make a good start on the assignment. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to do just that.