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Reflection on my first year of university as a mature student

This week I submitted my final assignment (👏🏼). With the OU self reflection contributing a lot to the assignments, I thought I’d write a short reflection on my first year as a mature distance learner. The first year began with DD102 Introducing the social sciences which ran from February to September 2019 and ended with DE100 Investigating psychology 1 which began in October 2019 and ended April 2020 (early finish due to Covid-19). Fourteen months of higher education completed and I have to admit I’m really proud of myself.

A little reflection…

Signing up for a degree with the Open University I’m excited at the possibility of changing the course of my life but, also nervous and intimidated with the standard of work now expected from me. Balancing readings (five textbooks), assignments, handouts and collaborative activities with family time and working full time hasn’t been easy.

Fifteen months and five textbooks later it feels a little surreal tbh. I left school with nothing, no GCSEs and I didn’t go to college for another few years. So to think I have a certificate in higher education is crazy!

Being a mature student has been an experience in itself. I started with a level 2 counselling course I did weekly at night which I really enjoyed. I never thought about HigherEd, until my mother in law talked about access to university courses which sparked my interest. I definitely felt intimidated when I started my degree. I thought I would struggle, surrounded by younger people with A* grades.

At first I did struggle a bit with essays but my tutor broke it down for me and after that the whole university experience became enjoyable – the learning, the tutorials, interacting with people through collaborative activities.

The benefit of studying as a mature student is that you gain confidence. It’s a fantastic experience – you are assessed by experts in your field, so you learn so much.

I feel like I have largely expanded my literary writing skills, but I know I need to be prepared for an even higher standard expected of me for stage 2.

What would I do differently if I could do my first year again?

Take part in more face-face tutorials and collaborative activities.

A little tip from me to you.

The one thing I always do is if my assignment is due on the 11th of January I’d have my personal deadline as the 1st of January. I would then make sure that by the 1st of January my assignment is fully proof read, edited and ready for submission.

I like to leave it for a few days, go back to it and re read it. Always read it out loud as you notice little grammatical errors and if it makes sense.

Now I just have to wait to receive my overall grade🤞🏼

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