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Advise On Starting A Degree


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I am considering starting a foundation degree. Have come late to learing - hated it at school but love proffesional development, courses and learning now I am older!

 

Have fininshed my level 4, which I found very managable and able to juggle with running a pre-school and juggling home life and three children. Am really interested in a degree. However I know nothing aobut it, what is involved and if I would be able to juggle with my other commitments.

 

Any advise would be gratefully recived.

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Hi SallyQ

I am starting Early Years Foundation Degree this October with the Open University. I contacted them initially to ask about the course and they were more than helpful. Downloaded information from the OU website and made a few enquiries from members on this brilliant website too. Hated school, couldn't leave quick enough - made a mess of my O level exams (see previous posts in Foundation Degree topic) but really love all the training and personal development which goes with my current job and felt I wanted to do more - purely for me (although it will hopefully benefit the Pre School where I work too). I have three children, plus elderly unwell mother (aged 82) whom I have to call for at least half an hour every evening, am supervisor of a Pre School too. Made the decision to go for for it, rather than in later years regret that I didn't do it when I had the opportunity. All I can say is go with your gut feeling. I had a lot of support from members of this forum in helping to make my decision, my main worries are 'time' and lack of confidence of 'whether I can do it or am I not clever enough?' - but if you don't try you will never know. Best of luck with making a decision, I know how you must be feeling.

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OK, so here goes with my story (have just finished my Foundation Degree and am embarking on EYPS/BA in September).

 

Had always wanted to teach, but when I was sixteen I was caring for my terminally ill mum and so college and stuff seemed impossible at that stage. Felt I had to go to work to earn some money to pay the rent...

 

Did all the usual office type work with day release training and qualified as a private secretary. I had my first child at 26, and when my third child was four, began to do the odd bit of staff cover at his nursery. From then on I started to do training, completing my DPP and going to work as supervisor of a small rural pre-school. By the end of my DPP it was clear that I had a bit of a flair for presenting and completed my City & Guilds teaching certificates which qualified me to teach childcare to adults in FE colleges.

 

Some of my DPP colleagues had progressed to doing the Foundation Degree, and I sort of regretted not doing it with them. So two years ago I embarked on it at my local college - just for me initially because I liked the idea of being able to study for a degree in something I love whilst still working.

 

By this time I was working four days in pre-school, teaching one day a week, was a Brownie Guider and with the usual family commitments (including last year when my dad got sick and I was driving for 90 minutes every couple of days to see him in hospital).

 

Yes it was difficult sometimes to juggle the various commitments and meeting assignment deadlines sometimes meant staying up all night, going to work and then on to college in the afternoon/evening. The workload was pretty unrelenting but so stimulating that often I'd go to bed with my brain buzzing with everything I'd learned and trying to work out what impact this new knowledge would have on my views, and the kind of practitioner I wanted to be.

 

It has been the most amazing experience - I have been exposed to all sorts of experiences both in my professional and personal learning. I feel much more confident in my setting, and in fact I have now bought my nursery and am in 'sole charge' as it were.

 

I can't imagine I'd have felt confident to do this without the FDEd, and I would heartily recommend it to anyone who is serious enough to devote the time and energy. You'll need better time management skills than I possess, but it can be done (with a lot of support from family and friends both with the housework and encouragement when you think you can't go on!).

 

I don't want to put anyone off, but you do have to be very clear about what the workload will be like and bear in mind that in effect you're doing a degree which most students do full time at University without the added stresses of family and working almost full time!

 

Let us know what you decide - but in your decision making process speak at length to the tutors at your college - or the OU people if that's your preferred route - to get a clear picture of what you're committing yourself to!

 

Maz

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Guest roopal

Hi Sally

 

sounds like you would manage fine - busy people usually get really good at juggling their commitments!

 

i started my 4 year BA teacher training course when I was 30 and I had 2 children. it was hard going but i did complete and it was such a wonderful feeling.

 

i have just finished my 6 month eyps, i run a pre-school and have 3 kids now like you. it isn't easy always but i would go for it - i bet you would cope really well and it is a great sense of achievement when you complete a course despite all your other commitments.

 

roopal

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Hiya,

I think there are a lot of "oldies" (by that I mean over 18's) here who have gone back to education, having regretted not doing it when we were younger. I would say though that I don't think I was ready to do it when I was younger. Clearly, we have all been through a great number of things in our lives and I think this makes us better students. Someone correct me here if I am wrong but I think that undertaking a degree is slightly different to undertaking an NVQ - critical analysis is an important part of a degree - being able to analyse and counter argue people's theories and applications. I undertook an early years management degree and this was certainly a major part of the experience and as we get older I think we bring with us a greater deal of maturity and understanding about ours and others life experiences. Nothing is ever as straightforward as we want it to be and I think this is a positive aspect of studying when you are older. Of course, it is hard work and like other people I have worked through the night to get an assignment away. I think it's really important to build up a network of colleagues who you are studying with initially as they can make the difference to your motivation.

The way my university worked was that we had either 15 credit or 30 credit modules - a 15 credit module was normally broken down into three separate assignments ranging from say 800 words to 3500-4000 words. Word limit is 10% either side of this without being penalised. Biggest problem I found was being succinct and getting the message across within the word count. Much easier to drone on and on - one of my favourite sayings is "I am sending you this long letter because I do not have time to write a short one" - this post in question applies. They estimated that a 15 credit module would take about 150 hours learning and writing up time. For me it seemed to take much longer, always a bit slow on the uptake in understanding what I was reading.

Not too sure how many credits a foundation degree is - perhaps someone here could answer this - is it 240 credits. You could then guage how much time you would need to put into it. A friend of mine did a lot less than I did - but I am a bit of a perfectionist (or a bit thick) and it always took me much longer.

I think the hardest part is getting the report formating right, referencing (I hate that bit and am very undisciplined - although in the last year I managed it) and writing succinctly but persuasively.

I think that eveyrone here has really enjoyed the challenge and definitely I will be doing more now - not too sure what route to take but I will continue studying for at least another two years.

Make sure that it's really a course you want to do - there are so many of them now - so take your time and choose to make sure it's the right one and you will do fine and I know you will enjoy every minute of it.

Nikki

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Ladies you are all fantastic, thank you all for sharing your experiences help and advise.

 

Since joining I have found this forum invaluable. There is nothing quite like sharing experiences with people who are going through the same things. Childcare (in most cases) is definately a vocation - not something we do for the money! We all fight to provide the best for the children in our care despite constant demands and batterings from LEA`s, Ofsted etc, etc. It can be very demoralising and we all need the help and support from each other which I think this website is fantastic at offering.(Only 1 disadvantage so far - no spell check so please excuse spelling mistakes! Although there is a possability I just haven`t set it up - am not very good with computers.)

 

O.K back to the matter in hand - proposed degree!

 

Have been really thinking about this and your experinces and advise are definately inspiring me to try for the degree. Still lots of research to go but you guys have really helped. More advise from anyone else out there would be gratefully received. I am now considering which route to take. Need to research better what`s involved but would be particularly interested in expereinces of which type of course people are taking and how they are finding it. I understand there is the O.U. - for distance learning so assume you do it all at home? Then a collage course which is avaliable locally to me where I would need to attend one day a week.

 

 

:o

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OOps - where is my equal opp.s policy!

 

Should have started my last post with a more general "thanks everyone" apologies to anyone of the male gender who has or does reply.

 

 

:o

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Hi SallyQ,

 

Just thought i would reply to your post too as i am also one of the 'oldies' xD .

I totally agree with Nicola, as we get older our life experiences make us who we are and indeed can help us understand others life experiences and how to apply this to our learning. I also feel i have a better understanding of learning and find i enjoy learning, i so would love to have the experiences i have behind me and be 18 and be able to go to University, but that was not to be for me :o

 

I have enrolled on the Foundation Degree course at my local college, i have a Cache Level 3 qualification and my A1 NVQ Assessors certificate and 20 years experience in earlyyears. To get on the college course i had to have a Level 3 qualification in Early Years and an interview and also had to do an assignment which was to write an essay on a subject given by the college. I was very excited when i got the letter to say i had passed the assignment and would be accepted for the Degree Course. I think the fact that you have a level 4 qualification and you managed to do that while working and running your home, it sounds like you would be able to do the Degree. When i did my level 3 and my A1 Assessors course i had 4 children and a very ill husband to look after, i also worked between 40 to 48 hours a week in a Senior Management post. When i look back i do wonder how i managed it all, but by nature i am very organised and very much a perfectionist. So there were many tears but i managed to do it all. It is so worth it in the end.

 

This time around for the Degree, things are a little different, one son is now married and the 3 children who live at home are all now working and very capable of looking after themselves. My husband is in better health and i have changed jobs where the hours are only 35 a week and not as stressful as my previous job, so for me this is the right time to do the degree. I am also learning to drive at the moment. I have left driving to now as i have always had a real phobia of driving, so i finally plucked up the courage to go for lessons, i am nearly ready to take the driving test.

 

Do what ever feels right for you. My mum passed away in December 2005 after a very long illness, one thing it taught me, life is too short, so i am doing things now which i have always put off.

 

Anyway i think i may have got carried away there. Hope you will find some of the post useful.

 

Rosepetal :(

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Hi Roesepetal

 

Thanks for adding your input. Sounds like you have acheived some great things whilst juggling everyday life.

 

Definately agree with you - life is short and we do have to make the most of it. It takes courage but it`s worth it in the end - better than looking back and saying "if only".

 

Good luck with the degree and driving.

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Hello, do it now!! I am 46 and have just received confirmation that i have passed my Foundation Degree through the Open University. Just like everyone on here it seems I have juggled a hectic complicated home life and a full time job of at least 40 hours a week. it was hard work but such satisfaction with each assignment marked. It keeps you up to date with Early years thinking and really should benefit where you work.

 

Good luck

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Am doing the FD with the OU, currently on my first course E!23 with an assignment due!

 

The OU has worked for me because I can work at my own pace, at home, amongst all my other commitments. There is support of tutorials and an online forum where we are all currrently floundering but we will get there, it's good to know we are all in the same boat. It is such a buzz when you get the assignment back and you receive confirmation that you do know a lot. Have learnt a lot already too.

 

By the way you lot, I'm in my mid forties and I'm not old!!! I'm not, I'm not!! :oxD

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Hi, totally agree with Nicola, i did my NNEB at 18yrs and have worked in childcare ever since did my FD with Maz and tyotally enjoyed it, it was hard work but very managable with work and families, good luck :o

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Hi Sally,

 

I left school at 16yrs with 2 GCSE's both at c grade. Luckily one of them was english and even luckier for my husband the other was home economics - can make fab scones.

I was then pushed onto a Btec first diploma in business and finance at college, fluked my way through that and passed.

I then fell pregnant at 18yrs with my daughter, started my Btec national cert in NN when she was 9mnths and juggled that, her, and getting my maths gcse. I then did no studying until sept last year when I embarked on the academic journey of a Foundation Degree in Child and Adolescent Studies. Having completed my first year and passing, I LOVE IT.

U still have to juggle everything, have stress, panic, self doubt but it is so rewarding when you finish an assignment, report or presentation that you forget all the stress.

 

I say go for it and the best of luck

 

Net x

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I am considering starting a foundation degree. Have come late to learing - hated it at school but love proffesional development, courses and learning now I am older!

 

Have fininshed my level 4, which I found very managable and able to juggle with running a pre-school and juggling home life and three children. Am really interested in a degree. However I know nothing aobut it, what is involved and if I would be able to juggle with my other commitments.

 

Any advise would be gratefully recived.

Hi Everyone,

This is my first ever post on the site (which I think is great). I have just completed the first year of a foundation degree. I attend one class a week from 4.30 - 9.30pm (supportive workplace allows me to leave early and make the time up for this). We also attend one saturday a month. I run a pre-school but have no children of my own, my partner has been suportive and takes care of himself, the house however has often looked like a bombsite!!! I did my NNEB when I was 18 and have worked in childcare ever since, I have also travelled alot. I think life experience and the desire to do it will get you through. I did find certain aspects of the first year very difficult. I am very proud of my achievemnet so far and can honestly say it has made me a better practitioner. As someone else said we do not do this job for the money and I think my setting and most importantly the children who attend it will continue to benefit as I continue to learn.

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Hi Everyone,

This is my first ever post on the site (which I think is great). I have just completed the first year of a foundation degree. I attend one class a week from 4.30 - 9.30pm (supportive workplace allows me to leave early and make the time up for this). We also attend one saturday a month. I run a pre-school but have no children of my own, my partner has been suportive and takes care of himself, the house however has often looked like a bombsite!!! I did my NNEB when I was 18 and have worked in childcare ever since, I have also travelled alot. I think life experience and the desire to do it will get you through. I did find certain aspects of the first year very difficult. I am very proud of my achievemnet so far and can honestly say it has made me a better practitioner. As someone else said we do not do this job for the money and I think my setting and most importantly the children who attend it will continue to benefit as I continue to learn.

Welcome aboard, Wendles - enjoy the rest of your Foundation Degree!

 

Maz

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A very big thank you to everyone who has replied recently.

 

I have been on websites and doing lots of research and think I may have narrowed it down to O.U. degree as this will mean I am more flexable and won`t need to find childcare.

 

Have sent of for a O.U prospectus and am almost ready to go for it!

 

Reading what you have all written has really inspired me.

 

:o

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See everyone here recommends it - have a look - it wont be a doddle but then it would not be very rewarding if it was. I think sometimes you have to stretch yourself.

Nikki

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I followed this route, I started thinking about doing the degree. I asked the forum what they thought and now I am a just about to start the second year and I can echo all the encouragement you have had, it has been hard going (I have five childre, 3 horses, 2 dogs and of course husband) also I am a preschool leader so it has been BUSY. BUT brilliant, I feel everything I do professionally is being supported and enthused by the learning alongside and I have learnt so much, it keeps me mentally healthy.

 

Wonderful to read all the support and I can guarantee these lot (the forum)and me will be with you all the way - that one of the best things the support from here!!

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