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JonAsur

Studying later in life

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Hi all,

I have a bit of a conundrum. I have been thinking for a while of signing up to study for a degree course in Maths and Physics through the Open University. It isn't something that I am just doing on a whim, I have been thinking about this for the last couple of years and is an area of great interest to me.

So my conundrum. I heard a discussion on the radio the other day about GCSE results, obviously the usual for this time of year. There was a section where they gave an adult and their child two science and two maths papers. One was the last years paper and the other was the paper from when the adult was taking the exam in the mid 90's.

The results were very surprising, the child found the old paper relatively easy and the adult found the newer paper almost impossible.

Now, I know that times change and I remember sitting my GCSE's in 2001 and my parents being unable to help me with my revision because they found the material too advanced for them.

I am now wondering whether it would be wise me beginning the degree at the minute or whether to spend a while first re-acquainting myself with first the GCSE aspect then moving on to going through the A-level modules before then going on to my degree?

 

Has anyone else looked into or faced a similar dilemma at all? 

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I'm late 50s and started  a degree with the Open University last year - Astronomy and Planetary Science. The first year was general science topics and this year I'm doing maths and astronomy. There is plenty of preparatory material available from them and lots of support if there's anything that you get stuck with.

I'd just go for it!

Michael

 

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The OU has some excellent maths foundation courses aimed at those who haven’t studied in a long time and you don’t need any previous qualifications to take them. Was looking at them only last week.

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Age doesn't matter. I did my professional payroll qualification aged 56 - passed with the greatest of ease. So, if it's something you want to do, do it - you'll enjoy it.

As for GCSEs; last year I bought a GCSE Physics book to try and renew my knowledge. I found the content surprisingly basic. However, I did do O'levels rather than GCSEs... :wink2:

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Don't get me wrong I am not discouraged by the idea of doing my degree, I think I was more just personal musings really.

I am definitely going to start, and pass :), my degree. I think I was searching more for other peoples opinions that have gone through a similar route to myself.

Thanks everyone for the support, it's greatly appreciated.

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With education, age doesn't matter. In fact, as you get older, it becomes more important for your brain to engage in new activities. Two of my Masters Degree students were in their late 60s. One of them, a lady, told me she started her undergrad degree in her early 60s, and after the Masters she's determined to go Ph.D full force. She also pointed out that it was very hard for her to go back to school after maybe 40 years or so. But she believes as she studied more, her brain got a lot more active and things got noticeably easier. 

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2 minutes ago, emadmoussa said:

The bottom line: JUST DO IT!  

I am definitely going to go for it! Just waiting until baby is here (due December 8th) and settled into a routine with her and the Mrs then it's all stations go!

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1 minute ago, JonAsur said:

I am definitely going to go for it! Just waiting until baby is here (due December 8th) and settled into a routine with her and the Mrs then it's all stations go!

The baby will keep you busy for months, if not years to come. So, my adivce is - and of course, you know your situation better than anybody -  start as soon as you can. You can always redesign your time around the baby. My wife did her MA when my little one was a baby, not even a normal baby, but a premature one who lived on oxygen cylinders for nearly 2 years. As in the most cliched sayings, when there's a will, there's a way... (I hate myself now for using this phrase, like you don't hear it repeatedly everyday by everybody :) ) 

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14 minutes ago, emadmoussa said:

when there's a will, there's a way... (I hate myself now for using this phrase, like you don't hear it repeatedly everyday by everybody :) ) 

Can easily be replaced with "where there's a will, there's a relative".

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20 minutes ago, RayD said:

Can easily be replaced with "where there's a will, there's a relative".

Prefer yours! ;) 

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2 hours ago, JonAsur said:

 

 I heard a discussion on the radio the other day about GCSE results, obviously the usual for this time of year. There was a section where they gave an adult and their child two science and two maths papers. One was the last years paper and the other was the paper from when the adult was taking the exam in the mid 90's.

The results were very surprising, the child found the old paper relatively easy and the adult found the newer paper almost impossible.

 

Not an unsurprising result really. The child most likely had been working on GCSE material for what the past 2 years or so (don't know GCSE structure that well, is it a 2 year course). What of the adult, when was the last time they had ever encountered science or maths syllabus since leaving education in mid 90s.  I wouldn't like to go up against my pupils in their maths ( N5 or Higher papers); I'm no way near familiar with the content of either course.  

I think you should have little problem starting on the OU course; they may even have lead in material for maths to quickly bring you back up to speed. Good luck with it , everybody that I know who has done an OU course really enjoyed the process. 

 

Jim   

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I've never really stopped learning new things since I finished my degree, some more academic than others.  Most recently (over the last couple of years) I've completed several swimming coaching qualifications.  As one gets older it is, I think, quite hard to get back into the "learning mindset" at first, both in terms of remembering new information and applying that information to solving problems.  It gets easier with practice however.

One of the important things to do as an adult when you obviously have other responsibilities is to make time and space to just focus on the subject.  It all becomes much harder if you are being regularly distracted by children/the phone/television/computer/whatever.

James

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19 minutes ago, saac said:

Not an unsurprising result really. The child most likely had been working on GCSE material for what the past 2 years or so (don't know GCSE structure that well, is it a 2 year course). What of the adult, when was the last time they had ever encountered science or maths syllabus since leaving education in mid 90s.  I wouldn't like to go up against my pupils in their maths ( N5 or Higher papers); I'm no way near familiar with the content of either course.  

I think you should have little problem starting on the OU course; they may even have lead in material for maths to quickly bring you back up to speed. Good luck with it , everybody that I know who has done an OU course really enjoyed the process. 

 

Jim   

That is a very valid point, I never really looked at it passed the fact that both were doing the papers. Thinking of it more, there is that point that was not mentioned in the segment that the child had previously been studying the subject material whereas the adult had not for some time.

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I often think vaguely about "doing a course in something". At 60+
I tend to exclude things that might lead to "qualifications"... Heck,
I might (well) not PASS at all! lol. Relieved to give up that stuff? ?

I am (fairly) well aware that "just for fun" courses might still exist?

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Given the cost of some of the OU modules I’m now looking at alternatives Having just retired cost is an issue. Not really concerned about the qualifications so looking at some of the free or lower cost courses available. It’s the enjoyment of learning and keeping my mind active that’s the objective for me.

Edited by johninderby
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There were recent reports in the media that the OU was seeing fewer applicants because of the costs and because of competition from other institutions offering less expensive online courses. They mentioned Manchester but I can't recall whether it was Manchester University or Metropolitan. Is the latter the old Poly? Anyway might be worth checking out. Good luck with whatever you decide. 

Edited by Ouroboros
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22 minutes ago, Ouroboros said:

They mentioned Manchester but I can't recall whether it was Manchester University
or Metropolitan. Is the latter the old Poly? 

https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/history-heritage/history/umist/  ?

I still remain confused re. my Alma Mater! Still "Russel Group", but Manchester Uni seems
to slip ever further down the "league tables" -- Even down-voted among it's neighbours! ?
I understand "Physics" is still many-times over subscribed... The "Brian Cox effect" etc. lol

Didn't B.C. once joke he probably wouldn't even get on an entrance shortlist? Me neither! ?

Edited by Macavity

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Although having the fourth biggest university in the UK on my doorstep unfortunately they don’t offer anything astronomy related. Mainly business, education, engineering and law etc. Still at the rate they’re growing and moving up the world rankings maybe in the future. 

Edited by johninderby
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I have experience of adult education on both sides of the fence, having regularly taught A level English to adults and having taken a Cert HE in astronomy myself, with no recent background in Maths or Physics. I heartily enjoyed both the teaching and the learning experiences. It's worth remembering that the OU are perfectly aware of the 'rustiness' issue and are geared up to helping their students through it. It is also worth remembering that adult students generally set far higher standards for themselves than do students of mainstream age!

In your shoes I'd get on with the application but see what's available in terms of preparatory material so that you feel on top of the basics to start with.

Olly

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My grandfather had a Ph.D., but his sister, my Great Aunt, who was probably brighter, was never even allowed to go to university as an undergraduate.   She was a remarkable woman (taught me the basics about film photography and always developed and printed my efforts herself.)  

When she retired, she took a music degree with the OU, and not satisfied with that, went on to do a computer science course.  Auntie Connie, was one of the most inspirational people I’ve known.

So it’s never too late to study and learn, be it in a formal, or informal, way.

I wish you the very, very, best for your endeavour. 

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5 hours ago, johninderby said:

Although having the fourth biggest university in the UK on my doorstep unfortunately they don’t offer anything astronomy related. Mainly business, education, engineering and law etc. Still at the rate they’re growing and moving up the world rankings maybe in the future. 

Does it have to be astronomy?

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6 hours ago, Macavity said:

I often think vaguely about "doing a course in something". At 60+
I tend to exclude things that might lead to "qualifications"... Heck,
I might (well) not PASS at all! lol. Relieved to give up that stuff? ?

I am (fairly) well aware that "just for fun" courses might still exist?

Learning is fun, but also learning without an end result might slowly lose its meaning. Aiming for a target, be it qualification or a certain degree, motivates the learner. 

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5 minutes ago, emadmoussa said:

Does it have to be astronomy?

Not necessarily. Will have to trawl through their online courses but no hurry. Flower arranging is definately out though. ?

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I've also started working through the lessons at https://www.freecodecamp.org/  This is completely free, though there are nags every so often for donations.  There's six courses of 300 hours each which includes certification if you want it. 

There is so much out there when you start looking!

All the best

Michael

 

 

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