• Ellen

A levels In A Year

Now, standardly most of us have to take A levels or level 3 qualifications over 2 years. I spent a year after school on a level 1 art and design course, which was fun and I enjoyed doing it, no regrets there. However, I realised that I wanted to start uni at the same time as my friends from high school. So, What do I do now that I am essentially a year behind? Well I already had my eyes set on the liberal arts degree and university that I wanted to attend. All I needed was a level 3 qualification... Simple right?

No. No, not really. I got a place on an access course only for that to fall through less than a week before it was due to start. So a last minuet panic and none of the local colleges/ sixth forms had a level 3 course that I could complete in just a year. With some help from google I stumbled across the national extension college (NEC), an online platform set up by the same person who founded the open university (OU). With the freedom to study from home in my own time, I would be able to get all the course work done in a year.

So I picked my 3 A level subjects and enrolled on my year long journey. I decided on Classical Civilisations, Religious Studies (From here I will be calling it RE) and Philosophy. The platform was easy to use, just log in, go to your course and all your assignments and content were there. I had a tutor that I could contact for each subject and they were all very responsive, I don't think I ever waited longer than a week for a reply, some came within an hour! As the year went on I was very much enjoying my subjects, but did find that all 3 of them overlapped in certain sections. There was a section in both RE and Philosophy called the Philosophy of Religion, which for both subjects had the exact same content, which was a little disappointing. Although the fact that these subjects overlapped wasn't a bad thing as it meant I was learning how to mingle the ideas from each together and see a broader picture. Much like you are taught to do on a liberal arts degree.

To keep me on track at the start of the year I had an app on my phone that told me when to study, eat lunch, relax etc… This helped me get into the gist of things, but I soon found what worked for me was to do one week of one subject; then move onto the next when I finished that section, taking the weekends off as a break. I was managing to keep up with all the work and got my first 4 assignments in for all 3 subjects before, the Christmas deadline the NEC had for UCAS predicted grades.

When exams came, as I was a private candidate, I had enrolled for my exams through the NEC guaranteed exam place scheme. So, I had to wake up at 6am for morning exams in order to get to my exam centre on time! That was a killer especially on days I had two exams or my 3 hour Philosophy ones. But, I did it!

I was predicted ABB, the A in philosophy. Not quite what I managed to get in the exams though! I had an offer from my uni that if I got CCD they would let me in. Still not quite what I got... nope I got CDE. That was a vey anxious few hours between getting my exam results and getting my place confirmed. So in all, I completed my A levels in a year and got into my uni of choice. With the added benefit of improving my independent learning skills. Never give up, if you have a dream there may be obstacles but there are ways to get there.

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