Monthly Archives

October 2013

Degrees At A Distance

By | Coaching in Education, University advice, University student's advice

If you are of a certain generation the term ‘correspondence course’ might be more familiar to you than ‘distance learning’. Early morning educational television programmes and sending essays by post are a thing of the past as the internet has enabled these courses to flourish.

The Open University is well-known for its excellent stand-alone and university courses, with a range of media to aid learning including CDs, computer software, DVDs, and on-line resources such as study guides, as well as traditional books.

What many people may not realise is that distance learning rarely means you never meet other people. There may also be optional tutorials, Day Schools, study weekends or intensive residential schools for certain subjects. This merging of on and off-line support is called ‘blended learning’. Tutors can be contacted by telephone and email at almost any hour of the day, allowing for more support and interaction than most traditional university courses. In addition, on-line courses provide another mechanism for students to interact with each other.

Other institutions are now starting to provide distance learning programmes, offering students of all ages the flexibility to study from home. This means that non-traditional students, perhaps those with a disability, mothers, carers or people who need to have a job to finance their studies can pace their learning to match their circumstances. Since undergraduate university tuition fees have reached record highs, it makes sense for people to look at new modes of study to allow them to work. After all, some traditional universities even seek to restrict the number of hours their students can undertake paid work in an effort to make them focus on their studies. Distance learning MBAs have been around for about ten years and there are many other postgraduate degrees that can be studied in this way.

Distance learning requires students to be motivated and organised. Many of the degrees are recognised by professional bodies such as the British Psychological Society. However, it is not only degrees you can study. You may wish to do a distance learning course in interior design or perhaps study for a GCSE or A-level. Schools may not offer the subjects you wish to study due to staffing limitations or lack of demand, and studying on-line may offer you greater choice and a way of show-casing your initiative and organisational skills, which universities and employers prize highly. Information about available courses can be found on along with tips for choosing a course to suit you. For one-to-one advice go to the sister website,

Natalie Lancer is the founder of and  She can guide you with all aspects of your application and give you expert guidance on finding the right course for you.

For more information, contact Natalie Lancer on 07747 612 513 or at’s top tips for Distance Learning:

  • Make sure you have a clear idea of how much study time the course. requires and assess whether you have the time to make this commitment.
  • Make sure you have a dedicated quiet space to work in.
  • Research difference courses and check the entry requirements, fees and other costs such as materials.
  • Be clear what completion of the course will do for your career. Contact relevant professional bodies to check the course is accredited by them if relevant.
  • Talk to a professional adviser such as Natalie Lancer, about which course is right for you.



New Sixth Former’s Survival Guide

By | Coaching in Education, Schools subjects advice, Study advice

It is October. New Year 12s have now spent a month in the Sixth Form. Having negotiated their way through the new dress code and enjoyed lounging on the comfy sofas in the Common Room, it’s time to get down to work.

So how can you maximise your potential in the Sixth Form? I interviewed some former pupils to see what gems they could pass on to their successors.

Tamsin highlights the importance of choosing subjects you enjoy. A-levels require so much in-depth study and this will become a slog if you do not have an interest in your subject. Even at this stage, it is not too late to change if you have made a mistake. “I know someone who made quite a big change from Chemistry to English A-level, and they never looked back. In fact, they are going to study English at university”, she says. However, subjects should not be changed on a whim. It is important to speak to the teachers and to look at the textbooks for your proposed subject. Make any changes with an informed approach.

Adam emphasises the ‘jump’ from GCSE to A-level. It may have been possible to get by at GCSE without too much work, but at A-level this approach is untenable. Each A-level syllabus is larger and harder than at GCSE and takes longer to understand and analyse. She advises to “prepare well for your weekly tests as otherwise you will have too much to revise all at once at a later date. The course information simply cannot be crammed.”

Homework can take several hours a night and it is important to plan your week to make sure you do not have an unmanageable work load. Many subjects have a coursework component, which can take the strain off doing examinations, but coursework has its own pitfalls. Often, coursework deadlines for different subjects coincide with each other, making planning a necessity; coursework can represent a major part of your final grade and must not be rushed. If you have a problem meeting your deadlines or feel you are falling behind, Daniel advises approaching your teachers, “They won’t think you weren’t listening if you ask a question, and they want you to do well”, she says.

“Get involved in extra-curricular activities, as not only do they look good on your personal statement (part of the UCAS application form) but they give you a break from academic study”, says Tamar. She also suggests looking into universities and prospective courses early. Tamar continues, “It takes a long time to establish which of the many courses on offer are ideal for you and, for new subjects, you need the time to read up about it in order to know if you are interested in them. It is also a good idea to see a careers adviser if you are stuck. They may suggest things that you didn’t know existed!”.

Natalie Lancer is the founder of and She can give you expert guidance on A-level choice, university applications (UK and US) and the Personal Statement.

For more information, contact Natalie Lancer on 07747 612 513 or at

Natalie’s top tips for maximising your potential in the Sixth Form

  • Check you know what your chosen A-levels entail by speaking to teachers and reading sections of relevant text books.
  • If you think you have made the wrong choice, seriously consider changing subject – you should maximise your chances of getting good grades
  • Plan your weekly work schedule to make sure you do not rush coursework or test preparation
  • Start researching universities and courses early to give yourself enough time to make an informed decision
  • Speak to a professional about A-level and university subject choices