Books · Geekery · Studying

Back to School: Study tips?

At the age of 28, it has now been over seven years since I  have been in any kind of formal education. For the first three years or so I revelled in this fact, happy to be free from coursework deadlines and exam revision but in the last year or so a desire to start studying again has been becoming harder and harder to ignore. So earlier this year I decided that this would be the year that I started studying again, I just had to find the right course…

I mulled over doing a course in heritage studies (something I’d always been interested in), learning a language and improving my web design skills but I eventually settled on studying A Level English Literature through a distance learning course with ICS.

Reading is always something I’ve enjoyed doing and I’ve always regretted not taking literature the first time around so in my late 20s I’ve decided to correct that! A large part of my decision to do this course was the syllabus offered by ICS which included many of my favourite books/plays. It was hard to resist!

I’m currently working through the AS modules and I’m studying a great selection of texts – The Great Gatsby, The Kite Runner, Robert Browning, John Keats, Much Ado About Nothing and Lady Windermere’s Fan.

The Great Gatsby cover
F Scott Fitzgerald – hard to resist?

Because I’m not attending formal classes, my success (or not) will depend entirely upon my commitment to studying the provided materials and willingness to do extra research. This is exciting but also terrifying.

Can I write more than 500 words anymore? Will I be able to remember everything I need to? Can I fit in the studying around my full time work and other commitments? These are just some of the questions and doubts circling my head but I decided to go for it anyway and just do the best I can! After all it’s not like my University place depends on it or anything this time around! Phew.

ICS learning materials
My course materials from ICS

I’m about 4 weeks in and so far it is going OK – I bought new start-of-term stationery (the best part, hands down! very essential), I am working through the exercises, doing online research, re-reading the texts over and over and talking them through with my boyfriend (or in the case of Much Ado About Nothing – re-enacting scenes).

This sounds all well and good, but already I’ve started to notice that I’m not spending as much time on this as I’d planned to. Originally my plan was to lock myself away in our study for 50 minutes or so a night and whilst this is exactly what I did for the first few days, I now find that I’m increasingly studying in my lunch hour at work or working through the materials on the sofa in our lounge whilst my boyfriend works through Red Dead Redemption on the PS3.

Red Dead Redemption
Are the exploits of John Marston detrimental to my studying?

Needless to say this is probably not ideal but I don’t actually know for definite that it’s detrimental, either. It probably means that I study for longer at a time but will I be taking the information in? It’s certainly how I did a lot of my revision for my GCSEs and A Levels the first time around but that was over 10 years ago now! I guess only time will tell whether this will work this time around.

I’m hoping that as deadlines begin to loom that I will be motivated to spending some more focused time on this with no distractions.

ICS have an online student community which I thought might help with motivation but whilst there are a lot of people asking for study buddy’s – I’ve yet to successfully arrange this for myself.

Has anyone ever studied a course by distance learning before? Does anyone have any study or motivation tips for me?

7 thoughts on “Back to School: Study tips?

  1. Hi emiliahearts. I guess you are half way through your A level now. Like you I have decided to study this English Lit A Level through ICS and have just begin the journey. It is a going back to school thing for me too, although I have a few years on you at 51! I am re doing the A level I did badly at way back in 1981. Have read kite runner and have array read gatsby. His is it one year down the line?

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