Access to Higher Education Diplomas are one of the most effective ways of getting the qualification you need to get into university.
Designed specifically to help individuals aged 19 and over, it helps you get on the course you want regardless of how well you did at school in the past.
These diplomas are offered by a range of different institutes, including colleges, adult education centres and distance learning providers.
That means you have the flexibility to study your Access to HE Diploma the way that suits you best. Including studying online.
While a classroom setting is a perfectly acceptable way of gaining your qualification, it does have its drawbacks. Namely set term dates and timetables that you must adhere to and the associated juggling of work and home commitments that brings.
Online study gives you greater flexibility in this regard, allowing you to study around life rather than making life work around your studies.
However, studying an Access to Higher Education Diploma online isn’t the easy option. Mainly because you are the one driving your learning, rather than a teacher. That takes discipline. Equally you are responsible for when you do your assignments, there won’t be anyone chasing you.
Regardless, online study is an effective way for you to gain your qualification. With the right plans in place you can pass your course and be ready to start your university degree in a matter of months.
Choose the right course
Access to HE Diplomas are specifically designed to help you get into university to study a particular course.
This differs from A Levels where you have the choice of subjects which can then allow you to study different degrees, providing your qualifications are relevant.
While this can be seen as negative, Access to HE Diplomas give you a comprehensive foundation upon which to build you knowledge.
This is especially useful if you are planning on becoming a teacher, nurse, midwife, or doctor as the Access to HE Diplomas are solely focused on that objective.
This is very empowering as you can be confident that by the time you qualify, you’ll have all you need to know to start your degree. And keep pace with the level of learning at degree level.
So, before you enrol give some real consideration to the course you want to study as it rather sets you on a path.
Of course, some Access to HE Diplomas will allow you some flexibility. The Access to Higher Educations Diploma in psychology and sociology, for example gives you the choice of studying at either subject at university.
It’s also very important to check with the universities you are applying to as not all accept the Access to HE Diploma. Most do but it’s better to ask the question and avoid disappointment.
Planning your Studies
While the Access to Higher Education Diploma is designed to be completed over a year, thanks to the fact the course is online, you can decide your pace of learning.
You have a maximum of two years to complete the course. This means you can complete the course in 6 months or 18 months as your circumstances dictate.
Regardless of how quickly you think you can complete the course you need to plan out when you’re going to get the work done.
This is to protect your study time from distractions, procrastination and all the other things life can throw up that gets in the way of study.
Depending on when you enrol, the best approach is to work out
- When you’d like to qualify by
- When any exams you need to take are scheduled
- When any applications need to be submitted by
- What dates – if any – you have commitments that can’t be moved
(work, family holidays, birthdays etc)
This will allow you to accurately map out when you will have time to study and when you need to qualify by.
This is beneficial as while you may want to qualify as quickly as possible, it may not be practical. This helps to manage your expectations, relieve pressure and allow you to enjoy your learning.
By establishing a realistic completion date, you can work out all of your study sessions well in advance. This will make it much easier for you to get into the swing of things. Especially if you’ve been out of education for a while.
Making the most of your Studies
Once you’ve established your study schedule you need to get down to work.
As mentioned, discipline is essential to successfully completing an online Access to HE Diploma with a good mark.
Because with online learning, you are the master of your own destiny. Which means no one – other than a well-meaning partner or family member – will be there to crack the whip and tell you to focus.
That means when you study you need to be as productive as possible.
This is relatively easy to achieve with a few steps when starting your study session.
Set up a study space
Assuming you don’t have a dedicated office or study at home, you’ll need somewhere quiet, where you can do your studying, free of distractions.
If possible, it should be away from the TV and other people. Of course, space is a factor so make the best of what you have. Dining rooms, kitchen tables and breakfast bars all work perfectly well providing you have space to work.
Leave your phone somewhere else
You don’t need it and it’ll only distract you. The only exception to this is if someone is dependent on you for care such as unwell or elderly relatives.
Even then the phone should be placed out of reach so you can’t be tempted to check Facebook or Instagram. Scrolling is not studying.
Studies have proven that using a smartphone can give you a hit of dopamine – the hormone that gives us pleasure. The more messages, likes, retweets and shares we get the more dopamine floods our brains. Our brains like dopamine. A lot.
In other words – phones can be highly addictive so having one next to you while you’re studying is a sure-fire way of getting nothing done.
Avoid distractions and clutter
Studying in a clutter free space will help with your concentration. Clutter is oppressive and so you’ll find it hard to concentrate. Plus, the desire to clean will likely be too much for most.
Although this is in part because our brains are lazy and tidying up requires less effort and energy than studying.
Equally, don’t study with the TV on. Background music is fine, although studies suggest that instrumentals and classical music can help you study. Singing along to your favourite summer jams…not so much.
Taking regular breaks is important to help you retain what you’ve learned. Studying for hours at a time is tiring and your mind switches off.
Taking a 15-20-minute break for every hour of study keeps you fresh. However, don’t check your phone and avoid watching TV. The reason for this is simple. It takes 20 minutes for our brains to refocus after we’ve been distracted.
Therefore, if you spend 20 minutes on your phone, it’ll take you 20 minutes to get back into a studying mindset before you get any actual work done. 60 minutes of productivity drops to 40 minutes.
However, it isn’t because, thanks to the addictive nature of smartphones you will likely be less focussed than you were before as you’ll be waiting on replies to the barrage of messages you sent while on your break.
Instead, the science suggests that take a short walk or doing laps around your garden is far more beneficial. It gets you away from your studies without shaking you out of that mindset.
Remember, using your study time effectively is essential to hitting your study targets and getting your qualification when you planned to.
Another useful tip is to avoid cane sugar and caffeine. Neither will help you concentrate, and caffeine will also make you need the toilet.
Instead, drink water and snacks should be fruit, dried fruit and nuts – allergies permitting.
Whatever Access to Higher Education Diploma you choose to study, we’re here to help.
Stonebridge Associated Colleges is one of the UK’s leading distance learning providers. Click the link below to view our range of Access to Higher Education Diplomas and enrol. Alternatively, get in touch with a member of the sales team.
For helpful study tips and to learn more about distance learning, check out our blog.