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Broadening A level choice

Kathryn Tompsett

Kathryn Tompsett’s school sixth form didn’t offer psychology at A level. Rather than move school or find a college that did, she opted for an A level course with NEC, which she learnt about from the Open University website.

Once she had enrolled on the course, Kathryn had lots of questions. How would she fit in her distance learning with her other, classroom-based courses?

How much time would she need to spend studying independently? Would she be able to teach herself a subject from scratch? What would it be like to be the only student in her school studying psychology?

‘I needn’t have worried,’ says Kathryn. ‘My school was very supportive of what I was doing. I found the NEC course easy to follow and could see right away that I didn’t need any prior experience or knowledge of the subject to be able to follow the syllabus.’

There was also help on hand at home as Kathryn’s parents had both completed distance learning courses themselves, and understood the self-discipline involved. Once she got into the swing of it, Kathryn found distance learning suited her: ‘I was able to work easily by myself. Most of all, I enjoyed receiving feedback from my tutor, because her suggestions were always very encouraging, supportive and constructive. It was a challenge not having anyone to discuss the course with, but I found plenty of ways not to feel isolated, including chatting with other psychology students on internet forums.’

In September 2013, Kathryn began a three-year psychology degree at the University of York.