Although we love telling you about the ways in which distance learning can support your educational journey, we’re always even more delighted to be able to tell out students’ stories first-hand.

Enter Angelina Goff. Having recently transitioned from teaching science to pursue the more pastoral aspects of working in a school, she’s been studying for a Level 3 Diploma in Counselling Skills alongside her current role as a Pastoral Support Assistant.

As well as getting to know a bit more about Angelina’s personal life, we spoke with her to explore how studying with Oxbridge has benefitted her educational journey. From how it fits into her daily routine to the skills she’s developed since beginning her studies, Angelina’s responses provide plenty of insight into what you can expect from the distance learning courses that we offer.

Tell us a bit about yourself! What hobbies and interests do you have? Where did you grow up? What job do you do?

“I was actually born in St. Petersburg, Russia, but moved to the UK with my mum and brother when I was six. I grew up in Manchester before going to university in Oxford. I am currently working as a pastoral support assistant in a school, having recently given up teaching science for the more pastoral aspects of working in a school.
I have a huge range of different hobbies, from keeping fit by getting out on my bike and exploring nature, to making music and crafting. My favourite hobby is seeking out new experiences and opportunities to learn something I didn’t know before.”

What words would your friends and family use to describe you?

“I think my friends and family would describe me as full of life and passionate about making the most of my time here! I am fiercely loyal and always willing to help anyone in need, although I definitely don’t suffer fools gladly. That said, I’m very much of the view that you can’t force someone into accepting help, no matter how much you think they might need it!”

What previous education have you had before Oxbridge?

“I completed my GCSE and A-level exams at a school in Manchester before going to St Peters’ College at the University of Oxford. After a brief period of time working in a lab, I enrolled in secondary teacher training at Oxford Brookes University.”

Angelina at her university graduation

How did you first come across Oxbridge, and why did you enrol on the course?

“I found Oxbridge when researching counselling courses online, and it was the best value for money course that seemed to fit the level of learning I was at.”

Can you tell me about your daily and weekly routine while studying with us?

“As I was studying alongside my full-time teaching commitments, my routine was quite varied. I initially tried to make sure I sat down for at least 45 minutes a day to fit in some studying, this then turned into 3-4 hours on 1-2 days a week. For some of the units, I worked for around 4-5 hours every day for a week when I had school holidays, before then taking a break for about 5-6 weeks when term started again.”

Has the pandemic impacted your study routine at all?

“The pandemic actually ended up having quite a positive impact on my study routine as I had a lot more time at home as we were not delivering live lessons, I could set my students work to do and then dedicate time to my own studies. It definitely allowed me to read much more widely about the topics I was studying.”

What topics have you enjoyed studying the most, and why?

“I enjoyed the topic on counselling theories the most as it was something I already knew a little about and therefore had prior knowledge to build on. It also allowed me to really explore the topics in depth and consider different applications of those theories. I felt like I was acquiring knowledge which was genuinely completely new to me and that felt really exciting. I ended up going into a lot more depth than necessary on the topic because I found it so fascinating.”

“I was acquiring knowledge which was genuinely completely new to me and that felt really exciting” 

What has been the most difficult or challenging part of your learning journey? And how did you get through that?

“The most challenging part was motivating myself to complete units which I found less interesting or those which I knew would require significant effort spent on logistics, rather than learning, such as the unit in which I had to film myself giving 10-minute counselling sessions. I motivated myself by writing down a deadline for when the unit or topic had to be done and telling others about my plans, so as not to be disturbed. I also found that tracking the hours spent working, and what I planned to do next, really helped me stay on schedule.”

Would you recommend home learning, and if yes, why?

“I think it depends on the kind of person you are and what you are studying. I liked the fact that I could study at any time I wanted and work at my own pace, but I found it hard not having course mates to bounce ideas off and receive instant verbal feedback from. It was sometimes quite tricky to explain my questions via email with my tutor, but even that was really useful in building my communication skills and developing more effective ways of expressing my thoughts.”

Angelina with friends before the pandemic

What are the main skills you’ve learned and developed?

“I definitely learned to be more patient, both with myself and other people; I really built on my time management skills and written communication. My research skills also advanced significantly as I learned to pick out the specific publications which would be relevant to what I was writing about and focussed on reading those to further my work, rather than just getting totally engrossed in reading all about a topic I was trying to learn about!”

What motivates you in life? What are you most excited and passionate about?

“As I said previously, I think learning anything is a huge driving force behind many of the decisions and actions I take in life. I grab any opportunity I am given to learn something new with both hands – unfortunately not all learning opportunities are equal so it can be quite hard to find something that you come away from feeling like you’ve really gained something valuable.”

What are your next steps?

“I’m exploring further qualifications, including the Advanced Counselling Level 4 Diploma. I am planning to speak to qualified counsellors I know and discuss with my current employer what the best next steps for me would be towards becoming a practising counsellor.”

What advice would you have for someone else considering taking your course?

“Carefully evaluate which level to start at by considering your current level of understanding and skill, and then go for it – you won’t find a better value-for-money course to give you a solid foundation for working towards becoming a qualified counsellor.”

Enjoyed reading about Angelina’s journey with us and looking to make your first steps into distance learning yourself? Visit our homepage or give one of our experienced course advisers a call us today on 0121 630 3000 for more helpful information.