Going Back To Education With The Open University

It was during my GCSE year at school that my body first decided to start being a pest, I was diagnosed with scoliosis (curvature of the spine) a couple of years previous but it was during my most important school year to date that the chronic pain began. Surgery was booked for the Summer holidays so I could miss as little school as possible, and then cancelled hours before, and I finally had the corrective spinal fusion surgery in December, a few months into my A Levels. The recovery was meant to be 6-8 weeks, I should have returned to school after that time but I never did go back thanks to a slow to be diagnosed complication and the need to have a second surgery to correct it. Ever since then I've been aiming to return, additional surgeries and chronic pain have made that challenging up until now though.

Anyone who knows me well knows just how much I thrive in education, I absolutely love learning and have always enjoyed school as a result. Ever since I had to leave I've been soaking up knowledge wherever I can, with free online courses and plenty of reading, but it's never the same as being tested and challenged in an educational environment. I truly started to believe I would never return to education, but after 5 years of waiting I finally think I'm ready.

Studying with The Open University is something I'd been considering for several years and last month I don't know what triggered it but I found myself on the website looking at my options. When I saw that the deadline for applying for the next starting date in February (and that I wouldn't be able to apply until October after that) was just a few days away I decided to be a little spontaneous, and perhaps a little reckless, and I applied. It was an Access module I had applied for, a module I describe as me dipping my toes in instead of diving straight into the deep end with a degree. Deciding what to study might be the difficult part for some people, and it certainly had me thinking whether I'd made my decision too quickly, but Psychology and Sociology were 2 of the A Levels I started for several months and are subjects that have intrigued me for years and I've spent a lot of my own time reading up on them over the past few years. So, when I saw they did an access module centred around these topics, it was a no brainer.

The access module is a 30 week course made up of around 9 hours of studying each week, so it's a more gentle introduction into education for those of us who are lacking confidence, have been out of education for a while or didn't complete A Levels. It's a free course if you meet the criteria and are signed up to a full qualification, in my case I'm signed up to start a Psychology degree in October so far. Whilst I don't have to start the Psychology degree, of course the aim is that I will but it all depends on how I manage with the access module!

Right now I'm absolutely loving it, it's not challenging me as much as I'd like but that was to be expected since it's designed for people who have been out of education a lot longer than my 5 years. For me it's about building confidence though, just reminding myself that I am capable. The module is mostly about learning skills, things that I would have picked up during A Levels had I completed them, like essay writing, referencing and keeping to a deadline. I think all the writing I've done for my blog and other publications will really come in handy but I'm definitely ready to build upon it!

My first assignment is due next week so I'm working on that right now and I'll maybe pop back in a few months to let you all know how it's going but of course, the best way to stay updated is to follow my social media (@shonalouiseblog for Twitter and Instagram).

I can't tell you how excited I am to be in education again, let's see how these next 6 months go!

Learn more about The Open University on their website.


  1. Good luck with your course. I started at the Open University in October and am really enjoying it :)

  2. Hi Shona, so pleased to come across your blog. Quite serendipitous I believe! I have also just started the Access Course at the Open University after spending the last 8 years fighting Chronic Illness. I am hoping to start a degree in Social Science in October, would be great if we could hook up on Facebook! Good luck with TMA-01 - I have already had to ask for a week's extension due to illness so hopefully have it ready for Thursday. ��

    1. Thank you! Hope you're feeling better soon, all the best with TMA1!