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How A Level Maths is broadening Sophie’s horizon

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“Distance learning opens the door to endless possibilities.”

Sophie, 28, Oxford

Currently studying A Level Maths with Open Study College, Sophie explains that distance learning is perfectly suited to their current studying needs and explains the number of factors that have led them to this learning path.

“This is my first course with Open Study College, and I chose them largely due to the course’s complete flexibility. I’ve got severe health problems, and when I have a health flare-up I have to take a step back, which OSC makes possible with its distance learning solution.

“I also found, when researching different avenues for learning, that there aren’t actually too many options available for adults that don’t want to, or can’t, do full-time in-person A Level learning. I only had capacity for part-time studying and needed a course that wasn’t too intense for me, so I had a look at distance learning providers and the different course options/how they were structured and found that Open Study College was the best fit for me.

“Another reason for studying with OSC is that I love learning, and maths is especially important in so many areas. It’s not necessarily as fascinating as other subjects I enjoy, like history and sociology, but I believe that you need maths to get the most out of a lot of subjects.”

In addition to the A Level Maths course, Sophie spends a great deal of time dedicated to volunteering, which figures highly in their plans for the future.

“I volunteer with Oxford Mutual Aid. We focus on challenging the problem of food insecurity in and around the city. We send out food parcels to around 2,000 people a week, directly and in collaboration with other community organisations. Oxford has a reputation for being really wealthy, but it’s also a city of massive inequality. We support over 1% of the population, which shows how many people are excluded from the wealth that the city generates.

“The voluntary sector has always been my passion, and it’s where I see myself working in the future. This course is a part of preparing for when I’m well enough to work. I gain practical skills and on-the-job experience through Oxford Mutual Aid, but my goal is also to return to university, and this distance learning course is a great step towards that.

“It’s been a decade since I’ve completed my A Levels and due to my focus on minimising the impact of my health conditions, I’ve got a big gap when it comes to employment and study. Learning with OSC is getting me back in the habit of working with a structure, and means that when I apply to university, I’ll be able to demonstrate my capacity to study as well as recent skills and qualifications.

“Maths is so useful, and the A Level will massively expand my opportunities in the future. In the short term, it will be really handy with the voluntary work I plan to do.”

Sophie has another reason for specifically choosing to study Maths with OSC, based on something that happened to them more than a decade ago.

“I’ve also got a bit of a funny reason behind choosing to pursue this course. Back when I was doing my AS Levels I’d chosen to study subjects instead of four. When I got my predicted grade for Maths, it was lower than I had expected. I wasn’t used to receiving lower grades, so I had a bit of a tantrum and decided to drop studying maths altogether. Years later I started to get recurring maths exam nightmares. I thought that if I finally completed the Maths A Level that I should have done, then the nightmares might stop. So far so good – since starting the course with OSC I haven’t had any!”

When thinking about their favourite elements of distance learning and the aspects that are personally challenging, Sophie explains that it’s all about self-discipline and praises the OSC tutors:

“I enjoy the flexibility the most, and the degree of options it gives me. Oxford has a lot of learning options, but I can’t drive, and because of my illnesses there’s a limit to the distance that I can feasibly travel. If something is only available outside the city centre and it’s in person I can’t attend. Distance learning opens the door to endless possibilities. On the flip side, I’m not always very disciplined. If there’s no set deadlines or someone chasing me, I can find it challenging to keep on track. It’s completely up to me to make myself study, so self-discipline really is key. It isn’t always easy.

“If you’re considering distance learning, my advice would be to set regular and realistic deadlines then review them – see if you achieved as much as you had intended and re-evaluate your plan. I also found weekly work/study dates with friends really motivating.

“My tutor has also been really responsive. At the start, I informed her of the health issues that might have an impact on my learning. She responded so quickly and positively and signposted me towards OSC’s accessibility accommodations. She was really proactive in pointing out additional support options to me.”

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