While poking around online recently, checking various forums and Facebook groups, I stumbled upon a question from a prospective learner who was considering returning to education after a lengthy break away. The person asked a simple question: “Is it too late to study with the Open University?” Concerned that their opportunity to achieve academically had passed they went on to explain how they considered studying to be a young person’s game. My response to that would be, not at all!

When I was studying for AA100 a fellow student who was in his fifties had returned to education with the Open University to gain a diploma that he hoped would enable him to move up within his company. He had not studied for many years and after gaining his diploma (we briefly kept in touch) he was back again doing a course for “leisure” as he was so impressed with the setup and range of options available.

I started my first ever module at 25 and gave myself a 10-year time limit to have my degree finished within. I enjoyed it so much that the courses just started flowing so quickly that my time is now almost at an end, well ahead of schedule. One of the reasons behind my rapid progress is down to the flexibility of the Open University. Back in the day I loved my time at school. A little too much in fact, hence my relatively mediocre grades. Organisations like the OU give the likes of myself another chance at gaining a quality education, later in life, when I am more mature, primed to learn and better equipped to take in the tutor’s advice.

The institution’s flexibility meant that I was able to do the bulk of my work at home with tutorials scheduled nearby at various intervals that allowed me to “touch base” (lovely bit of jargon there) with my tutor and interact with fellow students. This is why sometimes when I hear the Open University being described as a distance learning organisation I am at pains to point at that you are only kept at a distance if you choose to be!

When it comes to university rankings the OU always fares well. Just recently it was listed as one of the most Googled universities in the world. While Google search results may not directly equate to a high-quality education the Open University delivers on this front anyway. There are subjects, modules and course plans to suit all tastes. Students are generally more satisfied and an OU degree can aid career progression or personal development, opening our eyes to a world we may not have ever imagined existed.

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So going back to our opening paragraph and the online student. I don’t blame anyone for perceiving studying to be a young person’s game, with an image of eager youngsters hauling huge bags to schools and colleges on trains and buses every morning a common sight for many of us. But with organisations like the Open University it is possible for anybody to take their chance no matter what their age or circumstance.

The OU scores highly on so many levels. Not only are the distance learning-aspect and flexibility two huge pluses but the quality of education is unparalleled in my experience and there are a variety of courses to suit all interests and requirements. As we have stressed on this blog before, if you are interested in signing up for a course and don’t feel ready or are a little intimidated by the thought of going for a degree or starting a 60 point course then don’t worry! A short course or free course might whet your appetite or even, if you prefer, just to get the cogs whirring again perhaps the likes of Coursera or the Khan Academy could present a viable alternative option to get you motivated.

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