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JonAsur

Studying later in life

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This is actually a timely subject for me also! So thanks for starting this thread. Like you I've been contemplating getting a degree for a 3-4 years. Been contemplating taking the Science and Planetary degree at the Open University. There are tests they go there, to test whether you are ready to take a particular degree. I took the tests and surprised myself, I'm not quite up to snuff on maths and English but I'm only just not good enough to plough straight into the degree. They do do access modules which prepare you for the degree. Off the back of the test results they recommended one access module specifically for math and a different access module specifically for English. Although on the Science and Planetary sciences page they recommend a joint module combining maths, English, and Science. 

I'm thinking to phone the OU and speak to them about which approach is best the separate access modules or the joint module. 

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If I am fully interested in the subject matter and or the outcome enhances my quality of life in some way learning at my age of 54 seems easy as it always was but without that criteria I struggle to get basic facts in memory and keep them there, so really this all seems no differrent to me than when I was 14. As a touring musician most of my life I was often asked how I can remember so many notes and songs and retain and play new songs almost instantly and my response was always the same, because I love music and I'm often hungry. I'd say go for it.

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3 hours ago, emadmoussa said:

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. 

'Learning without an end result' is an oxymoron.

Olly

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1 hour ago, ollypenrice said:

'Learning without an end result' is an oxymoron.

Olly

Yes indeed, language is sometimes about flavour, about creating a dramatic effect, a 'painfully beautiful' and, occasionally,  'clearly confusing' one. :)

Edited by emadmoussa

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11 minutes ago, emadmoussa said:

Yes indeed, language is sometimes about flavour, about creating a dramatic effect, a 'painfully beautiful' and, occasionally, a 'clearly confusing' one.

This is so true.  I found out here: http://wisdomofchopra.com

This goes beyond maths, physics and language. Do click on 'receive more wisdom'

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2 hours ago, SIDO said:

If I am fully interested in the subject matter and or the outcome enhances my quality of life in some way learning at my age of 54 seems easy as it always was but without that criteria I struggle to get basic facts in memory and keep them there, so really this all seems no differrent to me than when I was 14. As a touring musician most of my life I was often asked how I can remember so many notes and songs and retain and play new songs almost instantly and my response was always the same, because I love music and I'm often hungry. I'd say go for it.

Memory is closely connected to emotions. If you care about something, you're likely to remember it. 

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Learning doesn’t have to be about achieving a degree or qualification. It just has to have a purpose that is revelvant to you and there’s nothing wrong with exploring a few different courses until you find just what you’re looking for.

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Back in the day universities used to have active 'extra mural departments (literally 'outside the walls') for non-students.

I took an arts course at Warwick University and delivered a botany course for them for a couple of years. Both great fun, I learnt more from the botany course!

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Thanks all for the responses.

It's always good hearing the opinions of people who think similarly and who maybe are going through the same situation.

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I'm about to start my 6th year of an 8 year integrated masters in engineering with the OU. I had no GCSEs or academic qualifications before starting and I am currently heading for a first class degree by the looks of it. When I started, I had to take two maths modules and had a choice between lower and higher maths routes. I chose the higher and it was a real struggle, though as they are both part of the stage 1 syllabus, a pass is a pass and providing you do pass, it does not affect your degree classification. As far as I am aware, that approach has now been binned and you study maths as a part of your science/engineering module, as and when you need that particular bit of maths. This keeps it both relevant and applied.

The costs are rising though: if, like me, you do not qualify for help in paying, it's now around £3000 a year to study part time and more and more of the modules are moving online, so there are fewer and fewer books being sent out and more online tutorials. I personally don't like or agree with this approach as I learn better from books and face to face tutorials, but everyone has their own learning requirements and the OU can't cater to all of them. 

The OU is also far less flexible now: you chose a degree and you do the modules for that degree. The degree has to be finished within a certain time frame for it to count (depends on the subject but usually around 10-16 years). This is also putting some people off, but if you are studying for a career change as I am, it's better as the degrees are targeted more towards industry requirements, meaning that the MEng that I'm doing is registered with the engineering council, a number of highly respected engineering institutions, is valid under the Washington Accord and fulfils in it's entirety, the academic requirement for chartered engineer, which most part time and distance learning degrees do/are not.

Even studying part time takes an enormous commitment, though if you are retired, this burden is substantially reduced. So, although it is very hard work, takes a very long time and costs an awful lot, I personally believe it is worth it. It is, quite simply, a life changing experience.

Edited by Tiny Small
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I'm a bit worried that my first thought after reading "the paper from when the adult was taking the exam in the mid 90's" was  "are they adults already ? "

Fortunately, my second thought was "I ought to suggest one of the Liverpool John Moores University 'short' online courses."

They last a few months, cost a couple of hundred ££, require a significant amount of effort (according to a couple of people I know who have done them), are well established, and well regarded. 

Have a look at the range here https://astronomy.ac.uk/  there is no expectation of any advanced mathematical or scientific knowledge as a prerequisite. 

 

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Hi

I did uni Access Courses (2 evenings a week) in Maths and Physics in 2016-17. Found them quite easy and got straight 'A's :D. But then went on to do Astronomy and Physics full time and it was a bit of a disaster. Illness and the much harder maths combined with a pretty heavy workload got the better of me :(. I'm 66 now - maybe I should have known better ha ha… I was questioning why I was doing it half way through the first semester but I should have done that before I signed up! I think even if you do something similar, but via the OU, then don't underestimate the workload and the time you have to dedicate to it!
This year (2018-19) I'm doing some much gentler open studies instead :). A little Earth Science - 'intro to the Composition and Structure of the Earth' (20 credits, 2hrs/week), and some History - 'intro to Ancient Egypt' (also 20 credits, 2hrs/week), plus an Introduction to Drawing (0 credits, 3hrs/week) :) Should keep me busy without too much stress and is an awful lot cheaper than an actual degree (though Scotland still only costs £1820 per year tuition fees for a full time non first degree) whereas open studies courses are a fraction of that, plus I get a 10% Alumni discount :). If all goes well there are further Earth Science and Ancient Egypt open studies courses I could potentially continue with next year, but that's a long way off! It's a pity I can't do a complete degree at Glasgow Uni by taking part-time modules but that's life.

Louise

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On 27/08/2018 at 15:37, Tiny Small said:

I'm about to start my 6th year of an 8 year integrated masters in engineering with the OU.

Just out of curiosity, which branch of engineering are you studying?

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I did my MSc at The University of Birmingham in real time software and completed it age 48, three years ago. 

I know Piano quite well and rather fancy learning the Cello and Trumpet.  I may do a BA in Music when my youngest daughter is a bit older, I am doing GCSE in it now.

There are students doing medical degrees to become a Doctor in their late 40's.  Learning is timeless, you are never too old.  My mother-in-law completed her English Literature degree at the University of Nottingham aged 81.  She loved it.

Stop faffing and get it booked!!!

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I did a full-time bioscience degree in 2005-2009 so was 57 when I finished. Then went on to do a PhD in neuroscience/neurogenetics though was only awarded a Masters. I'm 66 (going on 67) so I think I'm done with any full-time studying now :)

Louise

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Stop learning--stop living!

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I've just come off the BBC News site and was astonished to read that student debt has reached £118 BILLION with the likelihood most will be written off after non-payment after 30 years. I'd say get that application in quick before the rules are changed. ?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-45421621

Regards,
Steve

Edited by SteveNickolls

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Shocking amount, isn't it?  Not sure how they can square that circle though.  I can't imagine anyone wanting to change the accounting for it without bringing the total down quite significantly in the future, which surely means fewer student loans and therefore one imagines, fewer students at universities which have expanded to take even more.  The only other possibility I can think of at the moment is means-tested loans.

I don't know if my brother has paid off his student loan yet (he's 41 this year).  His loan was guaranteed to be some number of percentage points below the BoE base rate, I believe.  When interest rates fell through the floor after 2008 his interest rate went negative.  Sadly they didn't seem to think that it meant they should be paying him money :D

James

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I had a student loan in 2005-9 but didn't have to pay any back because of my age :) Then got paid a decent stipend whilst doing the PhD 2009-12. Win-win :) 

Louise

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On ‎07‎/‎09‎/‎2018 at 12:50, cv01jw said:

Just out of curiosity, which branch of engineering are you studying?

Materials and design. When I started, it was the most technical degree they offered, though now there is a specific mechanical engineering degree. Over the full Master's degree, I think that there are two modules that are different between the materials and mechanical degrees, though both are recognised by the IMechE and a few other institutions. They offer other degrees like environmental engineering which are recognised by other, appropriate institutions.

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3 hours ago, Tiny Small said:

Materials and design. When I started, it was the most technical degree they offered, though now there is a specific mechanical engineering degree. Over the full Master's degree, I think that there are two modules that are different between the materials and mechanical degrees, though both are recognised by the IMechE and a few other institutions. They offer other degrees like environmental engineering which are recognised by other, appropriate institutions.

Thanks, I was just curious as I am a chartered civil engineer.

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On 07/09/2018 at 19:10, JamesF said:

Shocking amount, isn't it?  Not sure how they can square that circle though.  I can't imagine anyone wanting to change the accounting for it without bringing the total down quite significantly in the future, which surely means fewer student loans and therefore one imagines, fewer students at universities which have expanded to take even more.  The only other possibility I can think of at the moment is means-tested loans.

I don't know if my brother has paid off his student loan yet (he's 41 this year).  His loan was guaranteed to be some number of percentage points below the BoE base rate, I believe.  When interest rates fell through the floor after 2008 his interest rate went negative.  Sadly they didn't seem to think that it meant they should be paying him money :D

James

I graduated in 2005 and am still paying off my loan, although I make the minimum required payments.  I should clear it fully by the end of next year by my calculations.

My loan was, by current standards, small at around £16,000.  I dread to think how long I would be paying a loan off if I was studying now.

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On 25/08/2018 at 09:51, JonAsur said:

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.

Jon I've just finished a physics degree. I believe a suitably experienced academic tutor to be the biggest help when you're not studying in the conventional setting - I've been both a tutor and tutee.

Coming from a traditional academic background, I really believe that if you want to *properly* undertsand physics and maths your priority is a firm grounding in mathematics, with slightly less physics.

For example; calculus (both differnetial and integral) is bread and butter of undergraduate physics. There is no better qualification in the world than a A Level Maths (and Further Maths if you can) to lay the ground work.

I wish you success!

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9 hours ago, choochoo_baloo said:

For example; calculus (both differnetial and integral) is bread and butter of undergraduate physics. There is no better qualification in the world than a A Level Maths (and Further Maths if you can) to lay the ground work.

+1

I did a-=level physics without A-level maths. I was really glad I did Calculus as an extra at 0-level.

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On 25/08/2018 at 01:13, JonAsur said:

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.

 

My wife is a high school maths and science teacher, and I sometimes look at the maths texts. Even though I have decades of experience in advanced university maths, it can require substantial effort for me to figure out what the current Canadian high school maths texts are on about.

 

On 25/08/2018 at 01:13, JonAsur said:

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?

 

To see where you stand, it my might be a good idea to get a hold of a copy of any edition the book "Engineering Mathematics" by K. A. Stroud (not to be confused with "Advanced Engineering Mathematics" by the same author), either from a library, or by purchasing a relatively inexpensive used copy. The first few hundred pages of this massive tome review GCSE mathematics, followed by treatment of more advanced mathematics. Use the Amazon "Look Inside" feature to look at the detailed table of contents,

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Engineering-Mathematics-K-Stroud/dp/1137031204/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1137031204&pd_rd_r=54ea6fbd-b5dd-11e8-9ef1-419f427e8ea3&pd_rd_w=zAcKA&pd_rd_wg=mgyOi&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_p=9eec4bbd-c065-4a4d-b0d1-92d63ee9e53b&pf_rd_r=S5JMZQVEZZYM236VS3RH&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=S5JMZQVEZZYM236VS3RH

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