September is right on our doorstep. It’s the start of autumn, the end of the holiday season and also the traditional start of the new Academic term. Student from pre-schoolers through to post graduates file up to their places of study ready to begin another semester of learning. You might presume that, as an educator, it would be my favourite time of year. Or at least up there somewhere.
Well sadly it isn’t. It’s not that I hate September, but I certainly don’t like what it represents in learning. It’s the harsh orthodoxy, the forced schedule, the “do it our way or else” mentality that pervades so much of traditional education that I find myself railing against. In many colleges and Universities, if you’re not enrolled by early September at the very latest then you’ll have to wait a whole year for another chance.
Now that’s not to say that there isn’t some merit or organisational necessity to this practice. Certainly, many courses would be prohibitive to run on an ah-hoc basis without a committed group of learners at any one time. Training doctors, engineers and other high learning professions one by one would be far too expensive due to the expertise and equipment that must be assembled.
Being all Unique Doesn’t Make us All the Same
But this is certainly not the same for every profession or role. Many trades, skills and careers can be learned just as well in the workplace as in the classroom. And rare is the business the arbitrarily decides it won’t take new customers because it’s not September. Why should you need to wait a year to improve your English? By what right does anyone say that studying marketing cannot begin until the local college says so? Who gave the Universities the right to say that you may only study to become a Graphic Designer or Programmer in September when our courses begin?
Not me, I say. As an advocate for Distance Learning (not to mention having founded a Distance Learning Academy) I say no to these arbitrary and wrongful limits. Study UK Wildlife Law in March. Brush up your Mathematics in June and get to grips with Business and Bookkeeping in October. It’s your life and you, as the student, should have the freedom to follow it as suits you best.
Courses that put Students First.
That’s why, from the very beginning of ADL, we’ve strived to build our courses around our students needs and put them at the forefront of the learning experience. It’s why we provide unlimited tutor support, because we realise that, for all the resourcefulness of the distant learner, it’s essential to have somewhere to turn to when learning gets tough.
That’s what makes us different from traditional classroom education: our focus on the learner as an individual. We know everyone has their own needs and, so far as possible, we strive to meet them. Starting with telling you to you can start changing your life and career prospects any time you like.
Until next time.
Director of Vocational Studies
Academy for Distance Learning