1. Single mother, 2 children, can’t get to uni

As a single mother with two young children, I was really concerned about being “stuck” with few or no employment prospects and no way of improving my situation.
I really wanted to go to university, but a badly timed relationship and resultant pregnancy meant I just couldn’t.
I had good GCSE results, and managed to complete two A-levels before my circumstances changed, but uni was out of the question.
I looked at evening classes at my local college, but even this turned out to be more difficult than I had thought. No real problem with the studying part of it, but having to set aside three hours plus travelling time to go down to the college one evening a week would have been a nightmare. The cost of childcare alone put me off. I’m not one of these “lucky” people who have their mum or sister living just round the corner to help out with babysitting…

I wanted to study something worthwhile that would give me a qualification I could use to get a job once the children started going to school. I looked around on the Internet and found several distance learning providers who had several courses that I was interested in. I spoke to quite a few of them, and decided to use Cambridge Open College.

Two reasons prompted me to use Cambridge. In the first place, the person I spoke to on the phone talked through possible career options with me. I was just thinking about childcare qualifications initially, but the lady I spoke to asked some really interesting questions that made me think about teaching. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I decided to do a teaching course with them. The other reason I chose them was that they offered sensible instalments, which was very important to me.

I’m now halfway through the QCF qualification course “Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools”. I love it. I’m really looking forward to doing my placement with the local primary school too. Once I’m qualified, I’m hoping to get a job with that school, which is where my daughter will go. That’ll be really convenient.

2. Ordered the course, lovely, fast

I ordered the Level 3 Health and Social Care course from Cambridge Open College late on Tuesday afternoon. They offer a next day service, but pointed out that as it was so late I would probably miss that days collection.

Imagine is my surprise when I got a text first thing on Wednesday morning to say that the course would be delivered by 3 PM that afternoon. And it was! Now that’s what I call quick delivery – and it makes a change for a company to do what it promises. Well done Cambridge!

The course materials came in a strong cardboard box, with the materials themselves in a large lever arch file. The quality is excellent, and everything is well laid out.

I intend to have my first assignment ready to send in after the weekend. I still can’t quite believe that the process is so efficient and professional. Ordered on Tuesday, received on Wednesday and able to start the course over the weekend!

3. Tutors are amazing

When I started my course with Cambridge Open College, my only experience of tutor interaction was what I had had at school (years ago). So I assumed that it would be pretty much “more of the same” – authoritarian, unhelpful (“you should pay more attention boy!”) – you get the picture. I was never convinced, actually, that my teachers at school really knew what they were doing or what they were talking about.

I can only describe my experience with my Cambridge tutor as a massive positive surprise.

He introduced himself by email soon after I started my course, and when I had a couple of questions about three weeks in, he answered them courteously and knowledgeably.

He clearly knew his subject matter very well indeed. More than that though, he didn’t treat me like an idiot (I am, by the way). My parents always had to repeat things several times to me when I was younger, and I was always accused of not really listening. Perhaps they’re right, but I found Michael’s encouraging and helpful style helped me no end.

I completed my Level 3 Retail Management course last week, and am now waiting for my certificate. If I had been left to sort out my own queries, or worse, been given inadequate or unhelpful responses, I probably would have done what I’d always done before and given up. It has been a struggle – I don’t think I’m a natural student. But I really believe I wouldn’t have completed at all if it hadn’t been for the support of my tutor.

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