If you've managed to stick with me after the first part of this post, bravo, hopefully this will be a shorter post. This is my actual thoughts on the OU itself - so if you're interested, keep reading.I had to set up the Access to Success route first, filling in all necessary details and what not and then waiting for an acceptance letter. It was then that I chose my first course and obviously nearer the time, the second part of the route which is the 'larger' course. This was all pretty easy and they are only a phone call away if you do need any help. They give you a lot of assistance in choosing your course too.
With the first course I took part in, it was a great way to ease into the distance learning style - a lot of organization was learned and willpower was tested. Time management was of the ultimate importance - especially as I was juggling a full time job, and this blog too. I studied this, if you're interested.
I got sent all of the materials needed - and this course was mostly 'book' based work, which I thought I enjoyed the most. Working from a book and shutting off the computer until it came to write a TMA. The tutorials involved emails and phone calls (you organize this with your tutor,) and it was so nice to actually hear someone over the phone - and she was lovely too. She was a strict marker, but it's for the best for your sake that they are.
I passed, obviously and moved onto this course. As you can imagine being a design course, it's mostly computer based work - all the material is online (but you can download it if you want to read through it offline, to resist temptation of internet distraction,) but likewise with the first course - you get materials to help you with this course. This is design related of course so there was a t-shirt for the first TMA, a steel ruler, masking tape, etc - to help with activities you complete along the way.
This course has tutorials in day schools - which for obvious reasons, I haven't been able to attend because of my back. However the tutor is only a phone call, email away and because you work so much with the other students in this course - in the forums and photo sharing facility - you get their assistance too. My tutor group has been fantastic at keeping me updated from anything I've missed. Likewise, I've been able to assist anytime something techy comes up that someone needs a hand with.
Obviously the main issue is funding - the OU is cheaper than a standard university, but you will probably need funding. They have a whole page of all the info here - but you will probably only get a loan for the course - no grants or loans to cover 'living costs' like a standard uni course - there are some exceptions but you'd need to look at Student Finance for that.
What I like about the Open University is that there are a tonne of courses to choose from - and by proxy - many different 'pathways' you can go through to obtaining your degree - or if you only want a diploma or a certificate of higher education. The choices are endless and once you've decided what you want to study - it's dead simple to get it sorted.
So far then? I'm loving it. It takes motivation and patience - some of the things I often lack, but I'm getting great scores and having an awesome time doing it too. There will be times when you think 'oh sod it' - but I've given up so many times on other ventures I just have to see this through - so I shake it off and get down to work.
I'll probably update when I've finished the course/route and give a final thoughts (if you can bare another ramble!) on the whole experience.
Once again, feel free to leave any questions below and I'll try and answer them (or point you in the right direction!)