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This post was originally published on February 12th 2019 and updated on March 23rd 2020.

This week’s entry of our ‘home-educator’s journey’ series, is a guest post written by Lucy’s GCSE Sociology tutor, Tracey Jones. The blog is a direct response to last week’s A home-educator’s journey, part 5: Studying GCSE Sociology with NEC.

In this week’s blog, Tracey offers some great advice and tips for students studying through online distance learning, and gives insight into the support provided by an NEC personal tutor.   

I’m Tracey, Lucy’s sociology tutor. It’s nice to hear how well she is doing and how useful she is finding it studying with the National Extension College (NEC). Lucy is hard working, enthusiastic and produces high quality work. She is working well through the course and is on track to completing ahead of time, so she can start revising early.

I always advise students to try and finish their course by the start of April, if they are studying their exams in May and June. This gives them plenty of time to revise.
Planning your study time is useful for achieving this. I know some students can find it hard to plan if their lives do not have a specific routine, so I often offer a couple of tips.

  1. If your week changes from one week to the next, why not take some time once a week (I usually recommend a Sunday night) to sit down and plan when you are going to study in the week ahead.
  2. If your weekly routine is pretty similar each week, try and come up with a plan of when you intend to study.

If you can, you should also try and schedule when you intend to submit your assignments. These dates don’t need to be set in stone, they can be flexible, but it is useful to plan. For example, you may decide that you’re going to submit an assignment every 4 weeks. If you inform your tutor of this, then you both know what you are working towards.

I always encourage my students to keep in touch with me and ask if they have any questions. Lucy is great at asking if she is ever unsure of something. She also seeks information and advice on her progress. Many students have not studied sociology before, so it is essential to gain feedback on assignments to make sure you are answering the questions in the correct way.
As Lucy mentioned, it is good to ask. I am sure all NEC tutors would much rather a student got in touch and asked a question, then sit and struggle, not understanding what they are studying. Tutors are here to help, so always ask.

I think the most important qualities for studying sociology, and any subject for that matter are:

  • Working hard.
  • Working to a high level.
  • Listening to feedback on assignments and using that feedback to improve on further essays.
  • Always try to do your essays. Often student will think that they don’t need to do them, but they are excellent practice for the exam, so it worthwhile trying to do them.
  • Study regularly.
  • Always ask if you are not sure.

Whilst sociology is not the same as other subjects, the topics covered can relate to other subjects. For example, research methods are used in sociology, so the skills here are transferable to other subjects such as psychology and other sciences.

Essay writing and critical thinking is required in sociology, which is also useful in subjects such as English literature, science, geography, psychology and history.

Lucy is obviously also studying by online distance learning through NEC. Being able to be disciplined, motivated and work at her own initiative is essential for any student wanting to do well in a subject.

I wish Lucy well with the rest of the course.

Find out more about home schooling with NEC here.

Free learning resources

As part of our commitment to those affected by the impact of the coronavirus, and in an effort to help support parents, teachers and students during this difficult time, we are making the learning materials available from our Resources Webstore free to download to the public using the discount code NECFREERESOURCES.

Further information on how to access the resources is provided in the following PDF document: https://www.nec.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Free-NEC-Resources.pdf

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