With the UK once again reporting improved GCSE and A level pass results, the arguments have once again started to whether these qualifications are worth the paper they are written on. Of course these comments are made by those who may have never looked at the exam papers and compared then to the same exams 15 years ago and just trying to find a news story. But that point may not matter, as it may the employers perception of the qualifications, that may decide whether you get that job or not.
We also can’t hide the fact that more people are passing with higher grades, that means the days where only a select few applicants for jobs had real qualifications, now it is more likely to be the norm. That leaves many with further choices to be made for example “do I go to College or university and get higher qualifications again", or “do I start further down the chain at work and spend that time working back up the ladder"?
There is a third option though for those hungry to get a job and start earning money. That is to get that job but also enrol in a distance-learning course to get that higher qualification. This can give the benefits of working up the ladder but at the end having a paper qualification to take you further still.
The principles of distance learning have improved immensely with the arrival of the Internet. The communication between tutor and pupil, the communication between pupil and other pupils can now be almost immediate with email and chat forums. Leaning materials can be downloaded online and the qualifications can be exactly the same as what you would have got through going to college or university.
The disadvantages are of course the self-discipline needed to follow through. Although most distance leaning courses tend not to have strict timescales associated to finishing projects etc, as they are designed to fit around your lifestyle, you still need to have some discipline to finish that course instead of watching the TV. If you need your university buddies to encourage you to finish your work, then maybe distance learning is not for you.
If you have the discipline then the ironic fact is, you can complete many distance leaning courses quicker than being at University even with your busy lifestyle. This is because you only study the subject you have enrolled in, as many universities make their students study other options or do more than one degree at once. Of course that long summer break that may seem great at the time but is in effect taking 3 months out of each of your study years. Even those with only basic maths skills can figure out that this is one year lost in four.
I have used a degree course as an example here, but the choice of course extent far beyond that to those that have no qualifications that teach you a new hobby or pastime to those which are more hands on like plumbing to electrical work.
There are many though who have been working for years and that promotion just hasn’t come or the job choice that seemed perfect many years ago is no longer and challenge or just doesn’t pay enough. With children and mortgage payments, many find that distance learning is the only option they have to improve their lifestyle without losing what they have already worked for.
Whatever your leaning choice is, one thing is becoming apparent for some career paths; qualifications are becoming essential rather than a nice to have and if you want to be considered along with ll the other applicants then you need to have at lest the same ammunition to fire.
Mark is webmaster for Distance Learning and Home Contents Insurance and Home Contents Insurance