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bluekarin

Uni update

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As some of you may know my daughter, my eldest child, went to uni this year. And she is hating. Every. Single. Minute. of it. :( We are trying to think of other options she could do, as I am not having her give it up only to sit at home and vegitate. We haven't really spoken to her about other options yet, but she has said she would rather do something more art related, so if she did do an OU course on maths with physics (she is currently studying theoretical physics plus extra maths.....like she doesn't have enough on her plate!) she could do it part time and spend time doing her art. My question is, are these OU course worth it if she were to try and get a job on the physics field? Do they carry the same value with employers as one from a uni?

 

Thank you, from one stressed out mum :cry:

Edited by Guest

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Sorry I can't answer your questions I just wanted to offer some moral support and ask where she is and what about it she hates.

 

I know some students hate where they go first but then change universities and have a completely different experience.

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I'd be interested to know what she hates...

 

Many first years hate Uni because they're really not ready to be away from home - they needed another year to grow up a bit, perhaps break family ties a little more, be more used to being independent. That's the main reason we lose 1st year students. Some come back to us or go to other Unis a year later and make a great success of it.

 

Some hate it because they're not on the right course. Not usually our courses - ours are the ones they tend to come to after finally persuading parents they just aren't cut out for engineering/business/whatever.

 

A few hate it because they didn't come to open days etc, so what thy get really isn't what they were expecting - the culture shock is massive. Sometimes they can get over that, very often they need to e at a different sort of Uni (more/less formal/pressured/competitive etc)

 

The OU really isn't great for an 18 year old starting out. The main thing you get from Uni isn't really the degree - it's the experience - such as making contacts in industry, industrial placements, discovering career goals (which almost always change in some way). For many it's the personal statements from Unis that convince employers - in your daughter's field, for eg, the attendance record is key as is evidence of, for eg, showing they organised projects, worked in groups and so on.

 

Is your daughter trying to say she'd rather do an art degree?

 

It's important to get her out reasonably quickly if she's going to leave - just because of the implications for fees. That varies between Unis, but for us they don't get charged as far as student loans are concerned if they leave by week 6.

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She is at Bristol Uni. She is struggling with it due to a medical condition she has. Its called Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) and she is in pain, despite Tramadol, 24/7. Because of this she can't join in with her fellow flat mates when they go out for drinks at the weekend etc so in the month she has been there, she hasn't gone out once. Well, apart from the freshers fair, which was a nightmare due to incompetent gate staff.

 

She is finding the work load imense as well. She was telling me that for every contact hour she has she needs to put in 3 hours outside of lectures. She had 22 contact hours a week, so that means 66 hours outside of lectures! Seems very excessive to me, but having never attended uni, I have no idea if this is right. She feels she is just working all the time and having no fun what so ever.

 

She gets around the uni in a wheelchair which is exhausting. When she was at home, I used to push her to and from school, so she is having to do all this herself, plus all the other day to day stuff. She is getting a new chair tomorrow, which is much lighter and has a better turning circle, so who knows, once she has that she might feel more able to get about and out with friends.

 

She did go to the open day there and at Imperial and Cambridge, so wasn't unaware of how the unis looked. I am not sure if she wants to do an art degree, and I doubt she could do one as she didn't do art for A level, though she did GCSE in it. I can't remember the grade she got in that though. She is just being really negative and it is getting harder to help her via texts, which is how we are comunicating. I did phone her at midnight Sunday as she really worried me and chat to her. Not sure it helped, but I couldn't leave her alone in the state she was in.

 

I am going to email her halls student support lady who has been fabulous, and let her know what is going on. She is coming home this weekend ( her godmum works in Bristol and can drive her home) but I can see taking her back Sunday will be a challenge.

 

Merlina, is it possible, even though she has been there a month, for her to defer her place for a year? I wasn't aware she could do that. Its good to know about her fees, though she has paid her first lot of accommodation fees already.

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I'm sorry to hear that your daughter is so unhappy - I'm not involved in university education, but I would second what has been said above, it's the whole experience of going to university, not just the degree. From my experience in business, an OU degree on its own doesn't have the same weight as a 'normal' degree, it's different if someone has been working and added the OU degree to their work experience (e.g. a police officer who's done an OU law degree) but with no practical experience or work history, I think your daughter would not get much benefit from it. Bear in mind that no degree course trains you to do a job, you nearly always have to do vocational training of some sort afterwards.

 

It seems to me that your daughter is facing two issues - firstly, she hasn't really settled in and made friends (it doesn't sound as if she's had good support for her physical problems). If she felt happier, then she might not feel so daunted by the course. The other issue is that it doesn't sound as if she really loves the course, it isn't always what you expect it to be. Do you think that if she switched to another course (maybe not art) she would cope with the other issues? And do you think that if she was finding it easier to get around and making friends, she'd be happy about the course? If the answer to both of those is 'no' then it might be better to defer for a year. It doesn't mean she's never going to go to uni, next time you'll both be better prepared and know what to ask for, and she could spend this year becoming more independent, maybe doing some work experience or voluntary work.

 

It's not all bad. I got my place at uni through clearing because someone had left the (very competitive and over-subscribed) course after the first week! I hope you can find a solution, while sometimes you have to stick at a new experience before you enjoy it, nothing is worth feeling that miserable.

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I'm so sorry to hear that your daughter is struggling, Bluekarin. Uni is a MASSIVE culture shock for youngsters, the learning regime is completely different, they are away from home, everything they know just changes overnight.

 

I tend to agree that OU degrees are probably not right for your daughter for the reasons mentioned, could she look at other options:

 

- deferring her place for a year to get herself a bit more prepared?

- look at a uni closer to home, maybe so she could live at home or perhaps come home for more weekends?

- change her course - maybe a blended degree?

- look at a different uni that might be able to accommodate her disability better?

- is the type of course she wants (or something similar) available as a part time option (I did my degree part time)?

 

I do hope things settle down for her, I do feel for her, she is so young to be mapping her life out already - there is no harm in the odd false start though!!! xxx

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I wonder if she would be happier at a campus university where there are more facilities onsite. The only one that I have really seen is Warwick. They had great facilities for first years but then after that a lot of students had to live in Coventry which was a fair bus journey away. Maybe, however, in view of her medical issues she may be able to find somewhere where she could live on a campus for the whole degree.

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Probably, but I don't know which ones are. Ive been trying to search for unis best suited to disabled people, but nothing really comes up. She did apply to Lancaster Uni which I believe is campus based, but it is so far away, and she wouldn't have the option of coming home for a weekend etc. We are in Salisbury so if anyone can suggest one, please do. I am open to suggestions.

 

I contacted her halls support admin who went round to see her this morning, which is brilliant. There is someone who runs an art class I think, and she is going to get him to come and see her and see if its something she'd like to do. I so hope it is! A great opportunity to get out, meet like minded people amd do something she loves :D

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Two of ours went to Swansea. My daughter had special needs (not physical though) and their student support system was excellent.

 

There used to be a national information service for students in FE and HE with special needs, but typically, it lost its government funding and closed down a couple of years ago. You could try talking to HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council) to see if they have information about any replacement support organisation. HEFCE are supposed to monitor HE organisations' compliance with the Disability legislation.

 

Another alternative would be to look at local FE colleges which also offer degree courses. Bath, Gloucester, Swindon, Wiltshire FE Colleges come to mind.

 

I hope you sort it. Nothing is worse than worrying about them when distance is involved!

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FE courses only offer GCSE physics which she already has an A* in so no point in doing that again. I'm looking at the unis again, and seeing what can be done, but I can't really do anything as she has to do it all. And that currently is like I don't know what, but she isn't being very cooperative :(

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I just did a search in a site called whatuni.com for a course in theoretical physics at a campus based uni in the south of England. Two in London and one at Sussex Uni came up - that could work for your daughter?

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Yes it might well be possible to defer for a year - she should have a personal tutor and/or a 'retention' worker who can help with that.

(we would allow it, but every Uni and even courses within unis, have their own rules).

The accommodation fees are a different problem. Usually, if they can find someone to take over the room, you should get most of that back - again, you need to talk about the arrangements with a welfare officer

 

Is she getting all the help she's entitled to? All our wheelchair users have helpers who are paid for with a disabled students' allowance. I don't know the details, but the Uni should have a disability officer who can talk through her problems and needs and funding available.

 

Generally each 30 credit module requires 300 hours of learning. So, yes if you crammed all the learning into the teaching weeks , then you'd be doing that many hours per week. But most Unis will teach for 8-12 weeks and then have a 3/4 week period of no classes for assessment etc. So that averages around a 40 hour week. Some courses (lab-based, medicine etc) are notorious for requiring more and many humanities students get by on much less because they just don't do all the reading they should!

 

Most campuses also have really excellent medical facilities, so, again, if she's having problems a new doctor (campus doctors are usually at the bleeding edge of medical developments) might have some new suggestions for her to help her condition.

 

It's also worth mentioning that it's really normal for students to have a horrible first few weeks. For every student who looks like they're having a great time, there's another sobbing in their room on their own. And even those who love it tend to hit a 'down' and think about packing it in somewhere in the first term.

Personally, I think there's an over-emphasis on getting students out and getting them horribly drunk in freshers events. There's a whole heap of other activities - clubs, student media, political groups etc etc to get involved with through the student union.

 

Feel free to PM me if I can help with anything

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The OU is now responsible for monitoring the standards of all the other UK Universities. I found it was always highly rated by employers, simply because it requires a huge amount of self-discipline to complete the course. It wouldn't be a route I would advise taking because it is a very difficult way to study, the student being very isolated, even though there are tutors available to help. You certainly would struggle to find time for art if you wanted to complete the degree in 3 years. Most OU people are working full time and take about 6 years to get their degree.

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She was telling me that for every contact hour she has she needs to put in 3 hours outside of lectures. She had 22 contact hours a week, so that means 66 hours outside of lectures! Seems very excessive to me,

 

I did Physics (with subsidiary maths) and then MSc & PhD and became Senior Lecturer in Physics.

We always advised 1 hour private study for each contact/taught hour (I suspect many students didn't even do this!)

 

Has she discussed it with her tutor - 3:1 sounds excessive - could she be being too conscientious ?

Are all her fellow students also working this hard ?

Seems a bit early to be giving up, but ...

 

Hope it works out, H

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She is doing the 4 yr msci course with the added maths, so probably the same as you did :)

 

Well, this is all such a rollercoaster. I am literally going from a deep trench of despair to the top of a flamin' mountain of joy! She got a whole load of new equipment delivered today, including her much awaited wheelchair and she is sounding so much brighter already! She has even been invited out by her flatmates to dinner tonight :) They have also worked out how to rejig the kitchen so she can get around and use it better. I had bisions of her sitting alone for hours, but it does seem she is spending time with them, so all being well, she might just make it there!

 

I have however made use of the links you all gave me (we really could have done with the whatuni website when she was choosing, would have saved a load of anguish!) and have saved a few campus based places nearby. Well, around the 2 hour drive away plus one in Lancaster, which was one of the places she was going to apply for until she changed to Surrey. I shall keep you updated as to how things are going. Its good to know the OU route isn't for her, I guessed it wouldn't be, but when your options are limited, its best to search for all avenues. Thank you to you all :D

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I'm glad things are looking better.

 

I expect she's homesick and just has even more to deal with than most students.

 

As for the work I suspect she may find she can dial it back a bit once she's settled in.

 

Fingers crossed

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Can't instantly find Bristol Uni version (bet its on their web site somewhere) but on Leicester Website

http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/physics/admissions/2015-16-brochure/view

there is a link to Department of Physics Undergraduate brochure. On page 11 it gives a typical week

 

How It Fits Together– A Typical Week

Your personal weekly timetable will change from week to week as the core lecture and laboratory modules progress, and it will depend on which options you are taking. The table gives an example of a typical week in the first year.

Core lectures 5 hours

Option lectures 2 hours

Tutorials 1 hour

Seminars 2 hours

Workshops 2 hours

Labs & group projects 6 hours

Private study 10-15 hours

TOTAL 28-33 hours

 

I doubt Bristol (or anywhere) would be MUCH different.

 

H

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I found it was always highly rated by employers, simply because it requires a huge amount of self-discipline to complete the course. It wouldn't be a route I would advise taking because it is a very difficult way to study, the student being very isolated, even though there are tutors available to help. You certainly would struggle to find time for art if you wanted to complete the degree in 3 years. Most OU people are working full time and take about 6 years to get their degree.

 

I have just completed my OU degree, it took me 11 years but I did do a separate Foundation degree in the middle of it :oops:

 

I wouldn't recommend it for an 18 year old, there are on line forums and students do support each other but you are very much on your own.

 

As Beantree says I have heard that employers rate them highly due to the self motivation needed to study and plan your time effectively.

 

I hope your daughter finds an answer and feels happier soon.

 

Chrissie

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So sorry to hear your daughter isnt settling. I would if you can give it till Christmas - they do go up and down emotion wise at first. The hours of study sound excessive. ES had far more study hours in the first year than his mates but eased off in second so far. I do feel for you and sending hugs and good wishes. Ali

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My daughter gave it until Christmas at uni, went back a few weeks ago, and she is so very very unhappy, we have told her to go ahead and start the process of withdrawing from the course. I am upset, but because I feel she has been let down by her lecturers and other uni staff. She is so incredibly bright, and used to love physics, and now she doesn't care about it at all. The stress is making her chronic pain condition worse, and she is suffering from severe headaches, and yet she still has to complete an analysis homework for a lab she has missed due to being off ill!

 

But, she isn't giving up on education completely. She is looking into doing an animation based art course! This time she has to make sure both the course and the practicalities work for her. I can't go through another year of this stress. So far I have looked at Bournemouth as its 45 mins away and a direct bus route from us, and they seem to be better catered towards disabled students. They also accomodate disabled students closer to the faculty and not further away (and at a higher rent) like her current one :evil: So we shall see.

 

She is going to talk to her lovely accommodations officer tomorrow, and then she will go from there, but I have a feeling by the end of the month, she will be back home.

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Sounds like she gave it her best shot, but was let down by the uni. Knowing the city that she is living in, I am appalled by this, they promote themselves as a forward thinking modern city, but it appears that there is still a lot to do before this becomes a reality.

 

I hope that she soon finds a course that she loves which helps her move forward. Things happen for a reason largely speaking, she may well have her best times just around the corner. Wishing her success and happiness in the future.

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I know, really quite bad isnt it :(

 

I think there is a different future for her, like you say, just around the corner. We all feel a bit wiser, and know what is required of the next place she looks at, so in a way, uni has taught us all something. Thank you for your best wishes for her :D I shall keep everyone updated.

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I'm sorry to hear that your daughter has been so unhappy.

I'm very surprised and disappointed to read that she has been poorly supported. Leaving home and starting Uni is difficult enough for any student but you would think that there would have been a better framework in place for someone with additional needs :(

 

Fingers crossed that she finds a course and Uni that suit her better!

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I am sorry too. I know as she was at Bristol (same as my son) I was hoping things would improve. Things do happen for a reason and she may find a better course nearer to home. Unis vary how much they support their students. My son has had some sessions where when asking for more support or clarification was told by a tutor "if I give help to you I'll have to help everybody" what an attitude - i was ready to file a complaint or give him a slap the tutor not my son :shameonu: If I had that attitude as a nurse my name would be all over the Daily Mail in an instant. I am sure she will find something better. Sending you hugs both of you.

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