On Saturday the 20th April 2013, I took part in the final stage of my six year journey with the Open University in Scotland when I attended my Graduation at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh with 100s of other students lucky enough to have managed to successfully complete their studies.
The experience was surreal, with a big wait between getting my gown & the start of the ceremony (that I probably could have avoided, to be honest), an amazing ceremony with loads of other students’ friends and family, before a mad rush for the photos at the end, culminating in a delicious meal with my family before heading home.
My time with the OU has been a roller coaster ride, starting at the bottom with my first level 1 course, up until I struggled (due to family issues) to complete my final course/module, submit the required final coursework whilst trying to revise for my final exam.
From time to time (although rare) I have had conflicts with lecturers, but on the whole I always attempted to attend any locally (Glasgow or Edinburgh) organised lectures to meet with the lecturer and other students. These lecturers were always beneficial to discuss differing views on the course/module, get some help from the lecturer, obtain a better understanding of what was needed or the more complex concepts and just to generally meet my fellow students and lecturer.
The conflicts I mention appear to be more with issues which were caused by courses being discontinued or amended as three separate faculties of Maths, Technologies and Computing merged and to become a more standardised unit, able to cope with the upcoming challenges that all universities face nowadays. The lecturers themselves were approachable, helpful and knowledgeable and I am glad for all their assistance, dedication and time throughout my Degree.
My studies were self funded and I held down a full time IT support role whilst juggling my studies, sometimes studying over Xmas and holidays ( Summer Holiday Alton Towers visit with my Nice & Nephew just before an Tutor Marked Assessment – I was behind my personal schedule) when required. Juggling courses, Assessments (sometimes, alternating between two courses, every fortnight) and revising for exams became common practice after a while and my wife became what is jokingly called an ‘OU widow’ as I swapped from work life to study life with only a little of any other life to spare for her, friends and other family.
Life has since returned to ‘normal’ but I can understand how studying via the OU can become addictive for some and a strain on relationships for others.
Since completing my degree I have been contacted, via LinkedIn, by various organisations who have offered me roles and I am constantly looking to the future with a greater sense of optimism than I previously had. After many years of working in IT support roles, helpdesk and retail shop roles (even, to my shame, a few sales roles), I now find that the offers I receive are more in line with my personal goals and I feel more confident rejection offers that I don’t feel are a good fit with my career goals. I have even gone as far as turning down roles, I may have previously taken, because the organisation conflicts with my personal beliefs or my feelings about the organisation ( ie grey & dull banking roles, Sky [I don’t support the Murdoch empire ], Any organisation related to military, animal cruelty, etc)
I’m glad that I took the time (and money) to take the leap into returning to studying and I am grateful of the support of friends, family, all the OU (and OU Student’s Association) staff and my wife, without whom I don’t think I would have done as well as I have.
I would recommend studying with the OU to anyone considering it as it’s life changing.