Thursday, 4 July 2019

I have a Level 3 Qualification.. | Access to Higher Education Diploma Update

I am not sure where the past twelve months have gone, but they have certainly flown by and I am officially the proud owner of a Level 3 Education Qualification.. well, I will be once I get my certificate. My year back at college is completed, I actually finished on the 12th June, so I have spent the past three weeks working and desperately waiting to get my results back and now that I have them back, I thought that I would do a summary of my year. 

I decided in the beginning of 2018 that I would like to go to University to study either Mental Health Nursing or Psychology but I didn't have the qualifications to do so and I just didn't think it would ever happen as I had a quite negative experience with education and I couldn't even imagine going back to do my A Levels. It wasn't until somebody that I knew was doing an Access Diploma that I realised that I didn't need to do a lengthy two year course to get a place at University and after looking into the courses available near me, I decided on one; Access to Healthcare Practitioners which I applied for, got a place and have now managed to complete.

An Access course is completely different to any form of education that I have experienced before, it is intense, it is time consuming and it is stressful however, it is only for nine months and everyone on the course is above the age of 19. My specific course was mostly focussed on Science as most healthcare practitioners rely heavily on science to be able to do their jobs. I hate Science, I find Science so boring, it really has never been my subject but I told myself that this was my last chance to get a Level 3 qualification and I was determined to complete it. With Access courses, it is less about preparing you for your exams and more about preparing you for University. On the access course, if you miss a lesson, your tutors aren't going to hunt you down, if you'd rather study outside of the classroom then that is ok and it is quite a relaxed way of learning. My course was only for three days per week, two of which were fairly long days but it worked for me. 

Another thing that I struggled to adapt to was the grades as this is a diploma, so everything is marked as Pass, Merit or Distinction and to make it even more confusing was that there are 60 credits to the course; fifteen were unmarked so you couldn't get higher than a Pass and 45 were graded. Instead of all of the exams being at the end of the year, each unit was divided into eight weeks and we would have around three units that we were learning at the same time. I surprised myself when I got Distinctions in my first two exams but this also meant that in my head, I had to get distinctions and I did actually manage to get a Merit in one exam which felt like the end of the world but I only needed Merits to get into University so in reality, it was fine. Overall, I managed to get my 15 Ungraded Credits at a Pass and out of my Graded credits I got 42 at a Distinction and 3 at a Merit which looking back on, I am pleased but I still am a bit annoyed that I messed up one of my exams. For my Conditional Offer for University of East Anglia, I needed to get 36 credits at a Merit and 9 credits at a Pass plus my 15 ungraded credits so I have gotten what I need and I am now just waiting for the confirmation to come through which will probably be in August.

As far as attendance goes, we all know that I am not exactly great at keeping my attendance up and it did slip in the last full half term of the year and I did only attend for 53% of this half term. This did cause my overall attendance to drop dow0n to 80% however, I did get the grades that I needed so I don't think my attendance was a massive issue and compared to at Sixth Form, 80% for a year is a miracle.

I did find the Access course fun, I liked how it was only for three days of the week but there was still a huge workload and we were meant to at least be matching the same hours outside of college that we did within college. It was tough, but it was doable and there was options to ask for an extension if it was required, I am pretty shocked that I didn't need an extension for anything as some of my submissions were very last minute.

I think what helped me the most throughout the year was that nobody; staff or students knew my background and I therefore felt that I was quite free to get on with my work myself, I wasn't constantly being asked if I was ok and it made it a lot easier to just get on with it, I knew there was support if I needed it but I managed ok and I think that just having a structure really benefitted me. 

Other than receiving my certificate and formally being accepted into University, I have fully completed the Access course and in just over two months I will be starting a course in Mental Health Nursing at the UEA.. scary! Who'd have thought that I would be going to Uni? Certainly not me but I can't wait to start training and to eventually be able to help others who have been in similar situations than me.

Thank-you for reading, Tay x
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