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It’s never too late to learn Social Science

Scott Montgomery

Authors:

Scott Montgomery is a bus driver, studying part-time for an Open University Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Social Science degree through Ayrshire College.

Shelagh McLachlanShelagh McLachlan is a Marketing and PR Manager at Ayrshire College. She achieved her OU Bachelor of Arts Open Degree (with an education focus) in 2000.

Scott Montgomery is retraining for a new career. In 2012, aged 44, he decided to return to education.

Unsure what to study, he booked an interview at Ayrshire College and found that social science - involving subjects like history, politics, psychology and sociology - seemed to suit his interests the most.

Scott discovered through his studies (which he began at Level 4) that he has dyslexia.

He is now doing an Open University Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Social Science degree part-time, through a collaborative teaching arrangement with Ayrshire College.

Here he talks about his learner journey.

Taking the first step
I had not done very well at school and when I left I walked straight into a job so it did not matter that I had few qualifications.

I was working as a bus driver when my wife got a good job and suggested I go part time and look after our children.

It was also a good opportunity for me to return to education, and get some qualifications, something I had always aspired to.

On a roll
By 2016 I decided to apply for the HND Social Science course at the College. I thought this might be a bit out of my league, but decided to try my best.

I am delighted to say at the end of the year, I was awarded a prize for “Student of the Year”. I am now studying for an Open University degree and reflecting on how my life has changed in a few short years.

Scott Montgomery and Shelagh McLachlan at Ayrshire CollegeAdvice to other people returning to education
If you put in the effort – you will see the results. It’s about having a positive attitude and working hard and being determined to succeed.

It improves your confidence and self-esteem. My family has noticed a positive change in me.

Glad I came to college
I am so glad I took that step and came to College. It’s worked out great for me. I have learned how to learn, and I am enjoying that feeling.

Achieving these qualifications means I have more opportunities to get a job I want to do. I am interested in working with people with drug and alcohol addictions. I want a rewarding job where I feel I am doing something good to help others.

Here I am, a bus driver that sure knows how to take the right route! (Sorry – that’s a bit cheesy.) Seriously, there are no wrong routes, just different routes that suit different people.

Starting at College and progressing to The Open University step by step has worked for me.


Shelagh McLachlan shadowed Scott for a day (both are pictured, above left). His class is in Ayrshire College’s Kilmarnock Campus, with the same lecturers he has known throughout his learning experience. As an OU graduate herself, Shelagh was particularly interested in finding out what Scott’s studies are like.

Commitment and dedication
Scott comes into college for his class in between his shifts. As I drove to work, I spotted him on the school bus run! Many students studying an OU degree balance work, family and studying, and it reminded me how much commitment and dedication you need to be successful.

Essay advice from lecturer
The class I joined is “Crime and Criminal Justice”. My first impression was how welcoming and relaxed it was. A small group sitting with their coffees and looking really engaged with the lesson.

Today, Ayrshire College lecturer / OU tutor Andy Sinclair (pictured below right) is giving advice on how to write the final essay in the course.

Andy Sinclair delivering a class at Ayrshire CollegeIt’s to be 4000 words and each person has to investigate a topic that has sparked their interest from one of these themes: Harm and violence – did you know that there are more industrial accidents than serious crimes like murder?; Local and global – the impact of crime locally and globally; Power – those who are in a position to dictate.

Some students couldn’t manage along to the class, and Andy will offer them either a telephone tutorial or online guidance.

Andy gave brilliant guidance with very clear helpful information. He broke down what seemed at the start as a huge task, into smaller chunks, and made it feel more manageable.

His pace of delivery meant that it was not rushed and you had time to think about what he had said. It was easy for the students to ask questions.

Social scientists: being objective
Today I have learned that a social scientist is all about learning to be objective. Taking a middle position and presenting a balanced argument. Actively seeking all sides of the argument and finding out the credibility of the argument by testing out the soundness of the claims made.

Next week the class will be discussing exam techniques. We had a good chat about “what’s the point of exams?” and is this method of assessment the most effective way of determining knowledge and understanding?

End goal: completing the degree and graduating
Andy reminded them to focus on the end goal. Completing the degree, and picture yourself graduating in the Concert Hall in Glasgow in October.

The above has been edited from blog posts by Scott Montgomery and Shelagh McLachlan, originally published by Ayrshire College: ‘It’s never too late to learn Social Science’ (Pt.1) and (Pt.2).

For full information about opportunities to build college qualifications into OU degree studies, visit our College Routes website.

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