Monday, 16 September 2013

A change in direction

As most of you know I am a student with the Open University (OU).  I began my studies in 2007 with a course called S103-Discovering Science.  This course is now discontinued, but you can read about its replacement here.  It is a very broad science course, worth 60 points.  I had an awesome tutor, who has since passed away.  She helped me decide which route to take for my degree.  I enjoyed the biology and physics part of this course, but found the chemistry interesting and more challenging.  S103 had a residential school to accompany it, SXR103.  I attended the one in Brighton, as it was local (the other one was in Scotland).  I met some good people on this course, and had a lot of fun, despite being pregnant with Isaac.  I passed these courses.

Now, to get a degree with honors from the OU, you need 120 points at level one, 120 points at level two and 120 points at level 3.  As I was pregnant, I decided to bump up my level one points, and not do anything too strenuous.  I opted for S151-Maths for Science, SK185-Molecules, Medicines and Drugs. I passed both of these (90 points so far).  I started to work towards a BSc in Molecular Science, which the OU decided they were going to finish awarding after December 2014.  It was going to be a close call.  There are set chemistry course for each level, worth at least 60 points, the other 60 for each level had to come from other science modules.

Sarah, from SXR205 and SXR344, awesome chemist
I began 2009 with my first level two course, S250-Science in Context.  This was a very interesting course, which looked at topics such as BSE, arsenic in water in Bangladesh and climate change.  Again I passed.  S205-The Molecular World was my next BIG challenge.  This is a 60 point course, which covers pretty much all aspects of chemistry.  This was hard going, with a delightful 3 hour exam, which luckily I passed.  It also had a residential school SXR205-Exploring the Molecular World.  This was an awesome residential school.  Again, I made many good friend and met lots of interesting people up in Nottingham.  Another pass was had on this one (190 points now).  It was nearly time for the level threes....

Before these, I decided to tackle SK120-Diabetes Care.  I was a recently diagnosed type 1 diabetic, so I thought this course would be of interest to me.  It was, but there was too much about the policies and procedures the NHS goes through to treat diabetics.  I failed.....

But I kept studying.  I began S347-Metals and Life while pregnant with Sebastian.  I did ok on the assignments, but fell down in the exam.  I was 6% short of passing the exam, so was able to re-sit.  Second time round, I was 2% of the required pass mark, such a bummer....

In the mean time I kept busy with SD226-Biological Psychology:Exploring the brain.  This was absolutely fantastic.  My tutor was an awesome lady with 7, yes 7 children, working towards her PhD.  I managed to pass this one, and decided to stick a little with the psychology to get my points requirements up(220 points now).

What a residential school is all about
Last year I was studying two level three courses at the same time.  SD329-Signals and Senses:the science of the senses and S346-Drug Design and Synthesis.  S346 had a residential school SXR344-Organic Synthesis and techniques.  This was held at York University, and was an awesome course.  The tutors were fab, and I was able to catch up with some of my friends from previous residential schools, as well as make some new ones.  I passed this residential school, and S346, which had an end of course assignment (EMA), rather than an exam.  SD329 was a fascinating course, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  It also had an exam.  It was about this time that we were sorting out going Stateside, and it turned out my SD329 exam was 10 days after we moved over here.  The OU are awesome though.  They were able to sort out an exam place here in Greenville, at Greenville Tech College.  I sat the exam, and failed, by quite a lot actually.....  Because my assignment scores had been quite high, I was able to re-sit it in May which I did, and I passed! 280 points towards my 360 had been achieved before this summer.

September 2012 the government in the UK decided to allow universities to decide how much they wanted to charge for degrees, with a cap at nine thousand pounds a year.  This even applied to the OU. I am lucky...Because I started my degree before 2012, I qualify for transitional fees, which means I pay the old price per module.  Good job too, as the current cost for a 60 point course is now upwards of 2500!!!

So in May it was time to get back to the chemistry with S345-Chemical Change and Environmental Applications.  I had had a year away from the chemistry, and man has it been hard to get back into.  This has been reflected in my assignment scores.  I am probably not going to pass this module, and this would make it very tight to re-sit it before the BSc gets removed. I have had a couple of chats with the OU, with Paul and my parents.  See, the whole point in me getting a degree was to then go to a brick Uni and get my PGCE and become a chemistry teacher.  Seeing as we don't know when we are going to be back in the UK, I can take my time to finish my degree.  Listening to both my parents talk, they are both teachers, I am not even sure I want to go into teaching when we return.  But to keep my transitional fees, I need to do at least a module a year.

After looking around the OU website, and chatting to them on the phone, I am going to finish this course, attempt the exam (I need 40% on my assignments, then 40% in the exam to pass, not likely at the moment).  I have changed my degree for BSc Molecular Science to a BSc Open degree.  This is a more 'free' choice, where you are not govern by certain restrictions on the modules you do.  All the courses I have done so far count towards this.  I need to get another 60 points at level 3, and another 20 points from somewhere else.  I cannot do any more level 2 courses, as I have my points requirement (and some) there already.

I plan on doing my next course in February, and taking a slightly different route. U316-The Environmental Web, is my next intended course.  It looks very interesting, and I am sure my chemistry background will come very much in handy.  It is a 60 pointer, so the work load will be high, but I think I will  manage it.  I will however be using my free time to read up through the OU online library, the topics from the precursor level 2 course S216-Environmental Science.  This will hopefully be good enough to assist me in passing my final level 3.  I feel like a huge weight has been lifted.  I was really starting to not enjoy the chemistry, it has been so hard, and I have lost interest.  I am looking forward to studying something I find interesting again.

Best get on with my final assignment for S345.  Sorry for the waffle, my degree is so important to me....

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on passing the May resit! Cool that you're shifting into environmental sciences, good luck with the current chem course :)