A – Access to all! Anyone can study. This is the glory of the OU and in fact it’s the founding principle. You need no previous qualifications and get expert assistance to help you settle in; you don’t have to be academically minded to start studying, I sure as heck wasn’t.
B – Believe that you’re capable. When I first started out with the OU I mistakenly assumed I would manage fine and I got a rude wake-up call. It took me a heck of a long time to realise it would take more than the bare minimum to get by but now I know I’m capable. Anyone is – OU study is easy, you just have to want to do it for it to be that way.
C – There’s a vast community of people you’re automatically a part of as an OU student. Don’t be fooled into thinking that OU study is lonely – it doesn’t have to be. Get online and get chatting!
D – A degree was my aim when I first started out way back when and it seemed too far in the distance for me to achieve. Don’t dwell on the destination – enjoy the journey instead and it’ll make it a lot more enjoyable.
E – An EMA (or, the assessment formerly known as an ECA) is like a mini dissertation, although it’s never THAT much longer than a standard TMA. I always spend far too much energy fretting over an EMA.
F – Feedback from your tutors is absolutely worth paying attention to. I didn’t do this for years and have only recently realised how stupid I’ve been to ignore it – the tutors are tutors for a reason so they know what they’re talking about. Besides, different subjects require different essay styles so pay attention to what your tutor says.
G – Grades are different with the OU and good lord it took me ages to figure it out! Not only are the percentage brackets different but the gradings are named differently too – I got a Grade 3 pass which I’m assured is a 2:2, although to be honest I don’t care – I passed, that’s enough for me!
H – Home is your haven. Home is where you’ll (probably) do most of your studying. I hate studying at home, I get nothing done and end up with a cat (or two) sitting on my books staring at me in an attention seeking manner. Little buggers.
I – iCMAs are a more recent appearance on Open Uni modules. They didn’t have them when I started all those many moons ago – they’re computer based assessments usually consisting of multiple choice questions. Typically found on level 1 modules and typically easy.
J – Juggling is a skill a lot of OU students have. No, seriously – we’re experts at juggling work, study and home lives simultaneously and the longer you’ve been studying the easier it gets. Non-students think we’re superhuman for fitting it all in but in reality, a lot of people waste a lot of their time without realising it; OU students just waste it reading books and writing essays instead.
K – If knowledge is power then the OU is like the weight-lifter of the academic world. Without sounding trite the OU has given me more than just academic knowledge though. I’ve gained knowledge through putting into practice what I’ve learned and also knowledge about my own capabilities; a very powerful bit of knowledge indeed, although I could do with some knowledge about what to do with that knowledge.
L – Level 1, 2 & 3 enable you to start at the beginning and improve your reading and essay writing skills as you progress through your studies. I tried to jump straight to level 3 on a subject I wasn’t practiced in but it ended disastrously and tarred me as a drop-out.
M – Modules are the units of study formerly known as courses. Modules make up qualifications and range in ‘value’ from 10 credit points up to 60 credit points. In comparison, a full time student studies 120 credit points per year so an average part timer will do 60 per year. I’ve been known to do 90 and let me tell you – it ain’t easy!
N – Next module. My StudentHome page keeps asking what my next module is and I feel like I’m letting it down if I don’t have something lined up. This is part of the reason I’ve ended up carrying on with my studies – because I like seeing a healthy StudentHome page and feel guilty if it’s blank!
O – Decades after you’ve finished with your OU study your OUCU (OU computer username, pronounced ‘oo-koo’) will be permanently imprinted in your memory. EVERYTHING you do on the OU website starts with your OUCU.
P – Practice makes perfect so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get marks in the 80s straight away (or ever, for that matter!). I’ve been studying for almost 10 years and have only twice got a grade in the 80s. Not everyone is a naturally brilliant student – what matters is that you’re doing it.
Q – Qualification. In the old days you didn’t have to sign up to a qualification straight away but that’s the way the government is heading. Now, when you register on your first module it’s expected that you’ve already mentally committed yourself to six years of part time study and know what qualification you want.
R – Reading. Learn to love it because you do lots of it with the OU. Understandable though since you’re not getting taught in a classroom setting so you get lots of reading to do. It generally increases in volume with the different levels and Philosophy seems to involve WAY more than any other subject I’ve studied!
S – StudentHome is your lifeline. Everything you need to know about studying is accessed through your StudentHome page so it’s worth taking some time to familiarise yourself with it.
T – Has to be for TMAs. The backbone of Open University study and the thing that keeps you regular, no, not in that way but keeps your studying regular by being due roughly every month. The TMA quickly becomes the focal point in your diary and the date is constantly in back of your mind, gnawing away like a beaver on speed.
U – Undergraduate fees, although vastly increased thanks to this government are still a heck of a lot cheaper with the OU – roughly half the cost of a standard brick uni so I honestly don’t know why the OU is sometimes ignored as a straight-from-school option for many teenagers. Baffling.
V – Value for money has to be the OU’s biggest selling point. For half the cost of a campus-based university you’re able to access award winning, world renowned, quality assured modules which lead to a very highly thought of qualification.
W – Weekday, weekend, waxing, waning, it doesn’t matter where you are or what time it is, the OU is ready to teach whenever you are. No classes to go to, no timetable to stick to, just you whenever you’re ready, willing and able.
X – Xenophobia isn’t something the OU practices and in fact OU modules are available all across the world. However, you can learn all about how xenophobia and religious conflict in AA307 - Religion in history: conflict, conversion and coexistence.
Y – Yearning for learning. I wonder what the percentage difference is between those students who end up loving studying and those who still hate it following their OU studies. I can’t be the only one who has developed this yearning for never-ending learning?
Z – Zealot, that’s me. Since beginning my studies with the OU I’ve turned into a complete OU zealot. I love studying, with every scrap of thanks due to the OU for helping me see how enjoyable and rewarding it can be. With all my heart, thank you for changing the very fabric of me.