Monday, 15 April 2013

The 7 stages of studying (for a mature student).

A couple of years ago I had a 'Damascus moment' and realised that if I didn't change the way that I was living my life then I would be leaving it full of regrets about the things I'd never done or even tried. For some reason I thought that it would be a good idea to do an Open University course. For the first couple of years it was fine as all I had to do was do some reading  and produce a few Tutor Marked Assignments. I found these quite stressful to do but at least I had my course books to hand to refer too and plenty of time in which to do them.

Those were the days! Now for the first time in over 30 years, I am to sit an exam.

I'm sure that I'm not the only one to have had the recurring dream where you are about to sit an exam but you haven't studied. I used to wake up in a sweat and was so relieved when I realised that it was only a dream or nightmare actually.

Now through choice I am about to experience this nightmarish scenario.

In my attempt to prepare /study for this event, I have come to the conclusion that just as there are certain stages of grieving, there are also stages of studying, especially for the mature student.

1. Terror!

Why in the name of all that I hold dear did I get myself into this situation? My life was fine as it was. Surely I've reached the time of life when I don't need this type of stress. but on the other hand, it was my choice. Oh well, better get on with it.

2. Enthusiasm!

Right! If I'm going to do this I better get organised.
1.Write a study timetable=check.
2.Make sure that I've got plenty paper and pens=check.
3.Clear the diary to allow time to study=check.
4.Cover the dining room table with course books ready to start=check.
5.Put the kettle on as caffeine is definitely required=check.

3, Reality!

Coffee in hand I open the books and start to read. First problem, where are my reading glasses? After several minutes looking everywhere that I can think of, a casual glance in the mirror reveals that they are on my head- oops.  Another glance at my watch and I see that it's nearly lunchtime. 'I'll be able to concentrate better with food inside me'. 3 hours later after falling asleep while watching the lunchtime news, I once again decide to 'hit the books'.

4. Despair!  

Nothing is sinking in! I read and read, writing furiously, hoping that this will help to consolidate the facts in my head. I get the names of my kids confused with the cats, I go into a room and have to go out and in again to remember why I entered it in the first place! How can I remember who did what, when or where? Never mind, keep trying. If only I could see the questions one day and answer them the next, I'd be fine!

5. Anger!

Who's stupid idea was it to do this course anyway? I was perfectly happy as I was, why does society put this pressure on us to feel that we have to be constantly achieving things? Can't the Open University make an exception in the case of us 'oldies'? It's my husband's fault for not talking me out of this madness.

6. Bargaining!

Please, please please! If I give up wine and chocolate, to help preserve what 'little grey cells' I still have and have lots of early nights will you make the questions easy? I help little old ladies across the street and give to charity, surely I deserve a break?

7. Acceptance!

Oh well, as the day of the exam approaches I'll just have to let it go.  I've done as much as I can do. what 'will be , will be' and all that! After all, I'm doing this for me so what does it matter if I pass or not?

This time next week it'll all be over. whether I do well or not, just as with any experience we go through I'll be a stronger better person for it or at least I'll have survived, (hopefully).

"Anything I've done that was ultimately worthwhile initially scared me to death". Betty Bender.

This quote is very relevant for me at the moment. Yes I'm scared! But that's better than feeling a failure because I didn't try.

Wish me luck-I'll need it! Meanwhile I'll remind myself that I'm an amazing woman of a certain age and I'm still pushing boundaries!


I passed! And as a reward I get to do it all again in October. #needmyheadexamined


  1. Point 7 just scared the life out of me!!!!!! I thought I'd got the day wrong and the exam was today. Phew. I would have been living that dream.

    1. Sorry about that Jane! I'll change it as it is confusing! :)

  2. Hahaha brilliant! So true. Well done on your pass Isabel, I'm sure these steps will guide you to an equally satisfying pass with A151 x