O is for Open University.

No longer the preserve of strange Black and White TV programs in the 1970’s, the Open University has developed into a very credible alternative to bricks and mortar Universities.

University funding, and student loans, are under review at the moment, here in England. Despite being part of the United Kingdom, which is a bit of an oxymoron, University funding is different and significantly more expensive to the individual in England.

Student tuition fees were introduced in the late 1990’s by the New Labour Blair Government. They were originally set at about £1000 per year. That is the same as about £1300 today.

They are now £9250 per year for students starting this year. For a typical student living away from the family home a bill of £50k is not uncommon for a three year degree course.

So the student loans company was set up to provide eye watering amounts of debt to aspirational students. Given the target customer is only 18 years old, they are quite easy to fob off. You will only start to pay it off when you earn over a certain amount. You won’t notice the monthly repayment. All your mates are doing it.

Context. It is not the Universities funding the loans. They are the ones selling the courses, and taking the money. The secondary and higher colleges are part of the sales force. The Universities bear no risk here, no motivation to get the best out of their clients, no motivation to ensure their clients get the best careers, the higher earnings, to pay back the money.

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This is where I actually feel sorry for my daughter, who needs degree level qualification for her chosen ambition.

There are four options.

 

  1. Take a University place anywhere. Move there, get the loan for fees and maintenance, hopefully get a higher degree, and move into career, start paying it back.
  2. Take a local University place, as luck would have it, we are within easy commute for two Universities, get a loan for fees, hopefully get a higher degree and move into career, start paying it back.
  3. Reevaluate life goals, consider apprenticeship route to similar but potentially less rewarding career.
  4. Have a long hard look at the Open University.

 

Everyone’s circumstances are different, but, if your chosen path doesn’t not involve significant time in the lab, or playing with lots of expensive hardware, then OU is worth a look.

Your course fees for a degree with OU are just under £19000, not just under £28,000.

You still have a tutor.

You will still develop and hone critical reasoning.

You will still have to work hard

You will demonstrate much more self motivated disciple, time management and commitment.

You will demonstrate a finer sense of financial acumen.

86/100 FTSE 100 companies use OU to further train their staff.

It is a very well respected University.

Perhaps most important of all, it has the largest student body of any University. Your fellow students will be a mix from all age and social groups. A much wider skills and experience base to interact with.

A common complaint is that it’s too hard. Shall we think about that? If that is a common view, how does your OU degree look to an employer? Determined, strong, committed, motivated, ambitious, hard working, intelligent.

Are we really encouraging adults into starting in the workplace with a £50k mill stone hanging over them?

Is the three more years in school really worth an extra £31k in debt?

How many thirty somethings are still paying for a teenagers decision?

 

It is worth a critical look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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P is for PO, Life Skills 101 #3

PO is for Pissed off, not Post Office

No, I am not pissed off,  This is an internalised and destructive feeling I would most strongly recommend you strive to avoid.

At the end of this Micro article we will be helping to identify why we feel PO, how to minimise the effects, how to recognise external PO factors and impacts, and how to push through this fairly negative and self inflicted condition.

PO can be caused by a number of factors, far to many to be totally inclusive in a minor blog post, that basically exists to try to get my writing muscle exercised. We could broadly lump the factors into two piles, Internal and External.

Internal factors are, if you like, the imaginary cartoon characters that sit on the shoulders, one good, one bad.

The Good one, sits on my left shoulder and whispers gently into my ear. “ You would feel a lot better after a run. Get the heart and lungs working, build up a sweat, let those wonderful endorphins rage for a while.“ The watery grey mush that is my brain processes this, and agrees it’s a good idea. For whatever reason the runny sweaty thing does not happen.

The Bad guy then starts ranting in my ear, “ You really are a waster, lazy slug, are you auditioning for the Michelin Man?”

The grey mush also processes this, and it leads to feelings that include less than complimentary self worth, a negative body image, and some internalised anger against myself.

If you like, I have beaten myself up, and various conflicts between the bits of me that want to wear less tight and expansive jeans, and the bits of me that want cake, have caused an internalised feeling of PO. I could now be described as PO with myself for not managing some slightly arbitrary and self imposed goal.

Other internal factors are available.

External factors are legion. We live in a tight little part of the planet that sustains life without too much technology. A host of beings competing for space and resources. Like rats from a shipwreck, clinging to a piece of wood, fighting for space, tumbling over each other, pushing off the weakest or the unlucky. Often, we are not as well behaved and orderly as those imaginary rats. We are a dark, savage and violent species, but that’s another story.

In a typical day, we are not shipwrecked and pushing others into shark infested waters, despite secretly wanting too…..

We are however subject to unthinking actions of other people. Actions that impede your actions. You have a plan, keeping it simple, for example, you are driving to work. That is your plan, to get to your place of employment.  You have already accepted the punitive costs of having and using a car on a much degraded road network, but you want to eat, so you go to work. You need to exchange your time and abilities for money to exchange for food, shelter and so on.

It is the random chaos of life.  A thing that is real, and a thing you have absolutely no control over at all, not even a little bit.  An event occurs that impacts on your ability to move yourself from where you are, to where you need to be.

It could be Mrs Muggins has spotted her neighbour, and wishes to share information about the price of bread at a previously unconsidered retail location, and in order to do so, has pulled her car over in a less than considerate place, obstructing you from moving towards your goal. It is of no importance to you, but clearly is to Mrs Muggins, so much so, that it trumps your important mission.

It could be one of the many utility companies have to repair a piece of infrastructure helpfully buried under the road, and have set up a surprise set of traffic lights.

It could be that some previously unconsidered yet critical part of your car has failed, rendering the whole thing useless till repaired.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Many factors can spoil your plan of getting to work, and you have no control over them, but they will still cause you to be PO.

Being PO is destructive, can cause feeling of stress, anger, rage even. How many times have you seen some poor bugger leaning continually on his horn, which seems to be the motoring equivalent of a primal scream. Has no effect on the cause, and its value as a vent is questionable.

A couple of tools that work for me, your mileage may vary.

Anticipation. Recognise its a crowded planet, and other people will be sharing the space you need to use. You may be able to cover your commute in ten short minutes if no one else is about, but it is unrealistic to expect everyone else to stay off the road just because you want them to. Leave early. Travel and arrive relaxed. Listen to the gentle melodies on the radio, not thrash metal. Try it, even if just one time. It works for me, and the analogy of driving to work can be adapted to many other situations.

You are basically preventing or minimising external factors from impacting on you, and thus causing internal feelings of PO as well. It’s a win win situation.

Acceptance. Accept the path of your life will be mined, dug up, confused, covered in effluent or worse. Your control over your destiny is mostly an illusion. Accept that no one else cares about what you want right now. It’s not their problem. It may help to think of them as puppies, or unruly children, or homicidal maniacs, or basically unpredictable, illogical, unthinking, and mostly unintended. They have their own goals, their own priorities. They might be impeding you, but that doesn’t always make them bad people. And, always remember, you are quite possibly the cause of someone else feeling the same PO emotions.  

As for self induced PO, try being mindful of yourself. After a few years as a adult, you will have slumped into a number of behaviours which are unhelpful or even harmful. Perhaps I should go for that run, but would it help to try some brisk walks first. Little and achievable victories really help. You cannot go from multiple years of cake abuse to a perceived body ideal in a matter of weeks. But if you start to eat less and move more, it will become attainable, eventually. It is beyond the scope of what I am ready to write today, but mindfulness, marginal gains, and habit forming are all things you could look up, to see if these will trodden paths can help you.    

Anticipation and acceptance. That is today’s message, even if only to remind me, that I am but one of many.

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Have a gentle day.