If you’re anything like me there has no doubt come a point during your Open University studies when you’ve slumped into the desk, closed the laptop lid and felt like giving up. Not an applying for an extension or looking for a substitution giving up but a real “I’m ready to quit this whole degree lark” giving up. At these low moments confidence can be thin on the ground.

Have you ever heard of Hal Elrod? Chances are, if you’re anything like me a few weeks’ ago, then you won’t have done. According to his personal website Hal Elrod is a #1 bestselling author, international Keynote Speaker, hall of fame business achiever, one of America’s top Success Coaches, national champion Sales Manager, record-breaking Sales Rep, ultra-marathon runner, grateful husband & proud father.

What makes Hal’s story all the more remarkable is not the multiple jobs he does but the road he took to get there. You see, Hal has reached his goals the hard way. You’ll see what I mean when he takes up the tale in his own words, below.

“…..his greatest triumph came at age 20 after he was hit head on by a drunk driver and found dead at the scene. Despite being clinically dead for six minutes, in a coma for six days, breaking 11 bones and being told he may never walk again, Hal defied the logic of doctors and the temptations to be a victim, and he bounced back to prove that ALL of us are capable of overcoming extraordinary adversity to create extraordinary results in our personal and professional lives.”

Despite being told he would never walk again, Hal went on to run a 52-mile “Ultra-Marathon”. Of course not everyone has such gigantic obstacles to overcome. No matter how Mount Everest-like that last TMA may have appeared it is more than likely not going to be a life and death event to get it finished. But saying that, there are some really uplifting stories of triumph against the odds and generally feel good moments from OU students as well.

Take this story for example of Kathryn Toplis, an Open University student from Cirencester, who inspired her family to continue learning and then went on to thank her husband for supporting her during her studies. Her son and second daughter decided to go to university after she got her degree and her mother also began studying for a degree at 62. Wow! That last line is a belter. A mother in her 60s inspired by her children to go to University.

Again, while Hal’s opening story was indeed inspiring, we often need to find something closer to home to relate to and Kathryn’s story hits the button perfectly. There are many such stories of Open University students battling against the odds to realise their educational dreams. Other OU students are studying and researching for interesting and varied reasons.

Take Swansea University researcher Emma Richards who nursed her dementia-suffering grandmother and is now seeking to find new ways to tackle the condition.

“I studied for a Master’s Degree in Psychology through the Open University, my focus being the brain, ageing and specifically dementia, “Emma explained. Click here to read more of that particular story.

Being inspired by the actions of criminal offenders may not enthuse everybody but stories of inmates using their time effectively, to study and better themselves in preparation for life on the outside is extremely positive. When in prison the temptation to idle away the time in a cell is tempting for some but not all prisoners let the hours drift away by dreaming of their release date with little to show for it when that day arrives.

“When I was sentenced to 10 years, I was determined that I’d get something out of it and that I’d educate myself to a level where I could do a job I wanted to, with young people, when I got out,” former inmate Chris Syrus told The Guardian newspaper.

The author of the article continues: “Stories of prisoners who’d barely seen the inside of a classroom being awarded degrees are untypical; the reality is that studying for anything more than a GCSE-level qualification while serving time is a very hard slog indeed.”

I would argue that this surely makes the achievements of those that do walk away with an Open University degree all the more encouraging. So whenever you are struggling with a topic, module or essay, try to remember there is always light at the end of the tunnel! Good luck everybody.

We hope you enjoyed this piece and if you want to read more stories about the Open University there are plenty more to be found here

Do you have any inspiring words or motivating stories to share with us? Feel free to write them in below and LIKE/TWEET/SHARE if you get a chance 🙂


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