Mature student

oldgirloldgirl Just JoinedRegistered Posts: 2
I am 46 years old and have been in Finance all my life but have no formal qualifications. I feel a bit silly but would your comments please on whether doing level 3 would be more beneficial to me class room based or studying it as home learning. :confused1:
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Comments

  • jenny3549jenny3549 Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 472
    It's a bit hard to give a definitive answer as everyone is completely different in terms of the best method of study for them.

    That being said, since you have plenty of experience, I would probably recommend self study. In a classroom environment you could find yourself getting frustrated if the class is spending time on something you already know inside out due to your experience.

    That's how I looked at it for myself anyway. I started AAT at 37 having, like you, years of experience, and thought I wouldn't fancy the classroom for the above reason. I self studied for Level 3 & 4 (and now for ACCA) and had no problems. And don't forget, if you get stuck on anything there are plenty of lovely people on here to lend a hand.
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    I'd agree with everything Jenny says above. My circumstances are exactly the same except I was 36 when I started AAT and didn't have the previous experience.

    If you've mentioned your age as you're concerned about it in a classroom based setting (maybe you're not but I assume you mentioned your age for a reason), then don't be. Although I've never personally attended classes, I'm led to believe that there are students of all ages there and you won't be the odd one out at all. I'd give self study a go first though, classroom courses will still be there later if you decide to use them. I think with your experience, you might find a classroom based course too slow??
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    I agree with the both Jenny and nps, however, I am a mature student with no experience in finance. I am doing a classroom course and there were 2 people who were above 50. The only draw back is that there are 18 to 20 year olds and they can be a little noisy and loud.

    Also Jenny wanted to ask you regarding level 4, I have just completed my level 3 and going onto level 4, how hard was the level 4 for you or are you one of those natural ones who get everything right. Also there is a case study, how did you go about doing that? Is it very different to level 3. I passed all my exams in level 3 first time except cash management which I passed second time. I would say I had to put a lot of hours and hard work plus don't have any experience in directly accounts.

    Appreciate your comments and look forward to hearing from you.:001_smile:
  • jenny3549jenny3549 Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 472
    zippi wrote: »
    Also Jenny wanted to ask you regarding level 4, I have just completed my level 3 and going onto level 4, how hard was the level 4 for you or are you one of those natural ones who get everything right. Also there is a case study, how did you go about doing that? Is it very different to level 3. I passed all my exams in level 3 first time except cash management which I passed second time. I would say I had to put a lot of hours and hard work plus don't have any experience in directly accounts.

    Appreciate your comments and look forward to hearing from you.:001_smile:

    Hi Zippi,

    Level 4 is more difficult than Level 3 in general. I didn't have any major problems with it but then, as I said, I have plenty of practical experience so quite a bit of it was a reflection of my day to day work (especially FNST).

    The case study was the part I found the worst as I absolutely hate doing stuff like that and usually avoid like the plague but in the end I had to bite the bullet and get on with it. There is plenty of very helpful advice on this forum which, when you come to do it, will be invaluable. I didn't even know where to start and think, if it weren't for our lovely forumites, I would probably never have got it done!

    I did a work based case study since I'm in an accounting position but you can do a provider based case study if you're not so there is no problem there.

    In terms of the workload, if you are already used to putting in the hours then that will put you in good stead for Level 4. You're already used to the committment to time and effort so you are well set up already which is a positive. You've already proven you can do it by passing Level 3 so you just need to attack Level 4 with the same determination and you will succeed with this one as well.

    Don't forget, the help and advice on here is great. If you get stuck on anything there will always be someone to help and explain so make use of the forum!

    Have you decided which unit you are going to do first? It might be an idea to start with one you feel might be the easiest for you to ease yourself in. I started with PTX as tax is my favourite so was a good starting place (I've done exactly the same thing with ACCA as well!).

    Good luck!!
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    AAT level 4 advice

    Thanks Jenny, unfortunately as I am doing classroom based I haven't got a choice and have to go along with whatever the tutor says to start with. Also I haven't got a choice on which option to pick as the college I attend has a choice of subject they want to teach for eg. our college has picked Cash management (which I absolutely dislike) and management and debt control. The rest of the units are compulsory. Also have a family and children so it is hard for me to put in a lot of effort. I just feel I don't have a life at all, although I am not currently working but am also doing ITQ3, which is due to finish in December but is equally hard as it is exam based too.

    Although I have worked in an office, I have never worked in finance and so am not familiar with lot of things. I still don't feel completely confident even sometimes with my debits and credits especially things like provision for doubtful debts etc. Looking for the job that will train you in accounts is very difficult to find these days. Most businesses require an experienced account worker but anyway you have been a great help just by sharing your experience with me. Did you do level 4 at home by yourself or was it distance learning with help.

    All the best with you ACCA.:thumbup1:
  • oldgirloldgirl Just Joined Registered Posts: 2
    Thank you, your comments have been useful and have help me make my mind up

    :001_smile:
    oldgirl wrote: »
    I am 46 years old and have been in Finance all my life but have no formal qualifications. I feel a bit silly but would your comments please on whether doing level 3 would be more beneficial to me class room based or studying it as home learning. :confused1:
  • jenny3549jenny3549 Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 472
    zippi wrote: »
    Thanks Jenny, unfortunately as I am doing classroom based I haven't got a choice and have to go along with whatever the tutor says to start with. Also I haven't got a choice on which option to pick as the college I attend has a choice of subject they want to teach for eg. our college has picked Cash management (which I absolutely dislike) and management and debt control. The rest of the units are compulsory. Also have a family and children so it is hard for me to put in a lot of effort. I just feel I don't have a life at all, although I am not currently working but am also doing ITQ3, which is due to finish in December but is equally hard as it is exam based too.

    Although I have worked in an office, I have never worked in finance and so am not familiar with lot of things. I still don't feel completely confident even sometimes with my debits and credits especially things like provision for doubtful debts etc. Looking for the job that will train you in accounts is very difficult to find these days. Most businesses require an experienced account worker but anyway you have been a great help just by sharing your experience with me. Did you do level 4 at home by yourself or was it distance learning with help.

    All the best with you ACCA.:thumbup1:

    Thanks Zippi!

    Sorry about that, I got you mixed up with the OP in terms of previous accounts experience (I was in a bit of a rush when answering).

    I did actually sign up for Distance Learning with Kaplan for Level 4 but never actually used any support, just the books so hence am now only self studying for ACCA (although that could change depending on the units).

    Maybe it might be worth you thinking about Distance Learning or self study instead since you could then go at your own pace rather than being tied to the college timetable. This could take some of the pressure off. I know what you mean about not feeling like you have a life - it can feel like a treadmill that you're never going to get off, but maybe if you just tackle each unit one at a time, at your own speed, it wouldn't feel so overwhelming.

    Are you tied into the college yet or would you be able to change?
  • James PattersonJames Patterson Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 281
    zippi wrote: »
    I am doing a classroom course and there were 2 people who were above 50. The only draw back is that there are 18 to 20 year olds and they can be a little noisy and loud.

    haha Zippi i resent that as a 19yo xD The older women in my class were loudest thinking about it.

    I don't think you should ever be deterred to do a qualification if you think it will benefit you, if it is beneficial then there isn't any point obviously.

    Studying with a college/private provider would be absolutely fine, i've been the youngest in my classes since i started by about 20 years.

    Hope this helps
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    Hi Jenny,

    No worries, I would be able to change as I have not enrolled as yet but one of my level 3 teachers said to me that a colleague and I would fail if we did it ourselves. Anyway as this year there is a case study, I don't want to take any chances just in case. However, fees have go up to around £1987 + plus books + membership fee. We were also told that if we did not sit exam on the day it was meant to be then there might be admin fees on top.

    I am also currently looking for part time jobs in accounts, I just don't know where to begin? I have been looking up onto websites like reed, total jobs etc. but no luck so far. Either they are full time or out of town somewhere in London and various other places.

    I have still got 2/3 weeks before I enrol, so will think about it.

    Appreciate all your help. I have learnt a lot from you. Keep it up!:001_smile:

    Best wishes,

    zippi
  • jenny3549jenny3549 Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 472
    zippi wrote: »
    Hi Jenny,

    No worries, I would be able to change as I have not enrolled as yet but one of my level 3 teachers said to me that a colleague and I would fail if we did it ourselves. Anyway as this year there is a case study, I don't want to take any chances just in case. However, fees have go up to around £1987 + plus books + membership fee. We were also told that if we did not sit exam on the day it was meant to be then there might be admin fees on top.

    I am also currently looking for part time jobs in accounts, I just don't know where to begin? I have been looking up onto websites like reed, total jobs etc. but no luck so far. Either they are full time or out of town somewhere in London and various other places.

    I have still got 2/3 weeks before I enrol, so will think about it.

    Appreciate all your help. I have learnt a lot from you. Keep it up!:001_smile:

    Best wishes,

    zippi

    Hi Zippi,

    No problem at all. I have to say though, I'm shocked at a tutor telling you that you would fail if you did it on your own! I know that I don't know you personally but, to be honest, that sounds like someone trying to frighten you into signing up for this year. Those fees are also pretty steep in my opinion. Don't forget you can do the case study with a distance learning provider who will give you plenty of support (as will people on here) so that alone certainly wouldn't be enough reason to go with the college.

    Apologies if it sounds like I'm trying to talk you out of the college option - I'm certainly not! As I said, I don't know you personally so it may well be the best route for you. It's just that it's good to consider all the options available and it sounds as though your tutor is giving rather one-sided advice.

    As you said, you have a few weeks to make up your mind so have a good think about it. Maybe others who have done the college route could give you an opinion as well to balance things out? (Anyone?)

    Good luck to you too! :biggrin:
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    Thanks Jenny,

    I will certainly think about it. Just one more question if you do it at home on your own with no help, can you just sign up for 1 unit with distance learning because last year I enquired and distance learning for all units was very expensive. I found that classroom was the cheapest just under £900. It is only because govt. is cutting back on funding this year, so the fees sound really excruciating.

    The other thing is with classroom you can get past papers to work on whereas if you do it on your own you just rely on books. I have 2 very good tutors this coming year, so I will have to really think hard about this. Plus started applying for jobs too.

    Let's see I still have couple of weeks to think about. Did you actually finish level 4 in a year or needed more motivation and was prolonged?

    Thank you, I really do need that luck to decide on the right route to take!:001_unsure:
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    oldgirl wrote: »
    :001_smile:

    I am glad old girl, that this has helped you make up your mind, I am still confused:ohmy:
  • Jo ClarkJo Clark Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,526
    zippi wrote: »
    The other thing is with classroom you can get past papers to work on whereas if you do it on your own you just rely on books.

    You can access past papers (pre CBAs/AQ2010) and Practice CBAs on the AAT website without being at a college. I understand that new CBAs will be available to take into account changes in the qualifcation.
    ~ An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest ~
    Benjamin Franklin
  • jenny3549jenny3549 Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 472
    zippi wrote: »
    Thanks Jenny,

    I will certainly think about it. Just one more question if you do it at home on your own with no help, can you just sign up for 1 unit with distance learning because last year I enquired and distance learning for all units was very expensive. I found that classroom was the cheapest just under £900. It is only because govt. is cutting back on funding this year, so the fees sound really excruciating.

    The other thing is with classroom you can get past papers to work on whereas if you do it on your own you just rely on books. I have 2 very good tutors this coming year, so I will have to really think hard about this. Plus started applying for jobs too.

    Let's see I still have couple of weeks to think about. Did you actually finish level 4 in a year or needed more motivation and was prolonged?

    Thank you, I really do need that luck to decide on the right route to take!:001_unsure:

    Hi Zippi,

    The only unit at Level 4 that you need a tuition provider for is ICAS (the case study). You can certainly just sign up for only that one unit - all the providers will do it as a standalone one with all the support you need.

    As Jo said, all the past papers (plus lots of extra practice in the form of the green light tests) are available for free on the AAT website so the college isn't providing anything extra there.

    In terms of length of time I'm probably not a good example :blushing: because I did take longer than a year to finish it. However, that was completely my own fault because I kept letting things like building work on my house get in the way. I wasn't in any particular hurry to finish so pootled along a bit - I had never set myself a target for finishing. On the other hand I'm a lot more organised doing ACCA and am able to motivate myself fairly well and stick to the timetable I have set myself without too much trouble.

    And don't forget (I sound like a stuck record now!), you wouldn't be doing the other units without help - this forum is unlike anything else I've ever seen in terms of expertise and helpfulness. I think most of the regular contributors on here (you know who you are guys!) should be tutors themselves!
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    Zippi,

    Have you tried the Job Centre website? It's not just for people who are unemployed, and you will find that there are often people who are more prepared to take on someone without experience. I got my first accounting role via them very recently. There was a good mixture of full time, part time, and very part time jobs on there.

    Reed etc, weren't interested in me due to my lack of experience, (Robert Half were very helpful though, and I will remember that when I do have experience!) They all advertise on the Job Centre website too, and I also got the details of lots of other smaller local, recruitment agencies from it.

    Also look at www.do-it.org which shows vacancies for treasurer positions for local charities.

    Still a bit :ohmy: at a tutor telling you you would fail if you did level 4 by yourself. Perhaps he/she was trying to be helpful and honest, but I can't help thinking that it sounds more like a ploy to fill their classes up!
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    Thanks Jenny & Jo

    Yes, I am aware of CBA's and green light and have used them my self but we did use to get extra papers in class last year that I have not come across. Also use to get lecturers resources pack, which was valuable. Anyway, at present I have decided as my child is coming up to year 5 and attending a local school does need a lot of help and am preparing for 11+ Entrance in Grammar school. I have enrolled my child somewhere for help and have been told will need as much input from a parent. I will get in touch with AAT and ask them if they could accept perhaps 2 or 3 exams this year and the rest may be next year.

    I guess as I have never done it before its just the nerves as well, whereas in classroom you have friends and also a tutor to ask. Well, now I know. I will perhaps give it a go this year and if it doesn't work perhaps try classroom next year!:huh:
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    Thanks Nps,

    I have also applied for couple of jobs from job centre website too. Did someone physically help you from job centre and printed the job out for you or were you just successful going on to jobcentre website and applied it by your self? When you had your interview what kind of account related questions did they ask you?

    I will also visit the website you have posted. Thanks for all your help!

    Will let you know when I get one!:lol:
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    I wouldn't even know where the job centre was! I just did it via the website (it was one of the big accountancy recruitment firms who suggested I have a look). It happened to be a job that had been placed by a recruitment agency so my CV was sent straight to them (I assume) and the rest was done by phone with the recruitment agency (well they phoned to tell me what time the interview was). I didn't even meet the recruitment agent till after the interview. Basically, the job centre website just acted as a portal to the recruitment agent, and then from the recruitment agent to the employer (the employer would have saved a fortune if they'd just put their own advert on as the recruitment agent did nothing apart from relay the interview details from the client to me!)

    I don't think I was asked one accounting question. Obviously we talked about my qualifications etc but I wasn't 'tested' on anything. I think they were more concerned about finding someone who 'fit' the organisation, and my previous background couldn't really have fit much better. I was very open about my lack of accounting experience but also used it to my advantage by stating that I wouldn't be giving up a well paid previous career on a whim so really had to be 100% certain that accounting was for me and that I would be successful at it.

    Have you looked at CV-Warehouse too? I registered and I get daily emails telling me about new jobs which match my search criteria. Your CV can also be uploaded so that employers can approach you before they advertise. I think someone on here mentioned the other day that they'd been contacted by someone directly who'd seen their CV and invited them for an interview for a job that hadn't yet been advertised.
  • jenny3549jenny3549 Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 472
    zippi wrote: »
    I will get in touch with AAT and ask them if they could accept perhaps 2 or 3 exams this year and the rest may be next year.

    There is no deadline/timescale on how quickly you have to complete the level! You don't need to speak to AAT. Colleges tend to do the level in a year to fit in with their terms but when you do it yourself you can take as long as you want so just take the exams at a speed that suits you.

    At least, with your child doing their 11+, you'll have someone to sympathise with the studying!
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    Just spoke to a member of staff from AAT and was told that if I wanted to do level 4, I will need a learning provider (can be a distance learning) as some questions (practically in all papers) have to be marked by the tutor. Premier training was the cheapest approx. between £690/£750. I have never done distance learning. What does it involve? Are the interactions and learning on line easier. Are the tutors helpful when needed? Do they suggest which books to use? I do prefer BPP as never used any others. Where do I buy BPP books from? BPP website? or used by someone from previous years is ok. Previously have been supplied by the college I use to attend at a very reasonable price. I guess I could take as long as I can to finish the course at my own pace right!

    :ohmy:
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    There have been numerous threads on here about people ringing AAT and being told that. It is not true. At the moment it is only ICAS that needs to be marked by a learning provider. I believe (just my opinion) that it is because you need to sit exams at a learning providers centre, but this is very different to actually being taught by a learning provider.

    HOWEVER, I can't comment on the impact of the new syllabus change (there will be others far more knowledgeable along soon, I'm sure) but I still find it hard to believe that every paper will need a learning provider, particularly as I know AAT have given the wrong advice about this before.

    Trust me, I (and many others) have done level 4 without any outside input (apart from ICAS of course). I'm fairly sure that the syllabus has not changed so much that this is no longer the case.
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    BPP books - BPP themselves, Amazon, Foyles (20% discount with BPPFOY2). Probably most online book shops.

    Just take the ISBN number of each from the BPP website, and search via that so you know that you are getting the most up to date versions (you will find lots of sellers selling older versions - they're probably fine, but why not get the newest ones if you have the choice).
  • jenny3549jenny3549 Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 472
    Nps wrote: »
    There have been numerous threads on here about people ringing AAT and being told that. It is not true. At the moment it is only ICAS that needs to be marked by a learning provider. I believe (just my opinion) that it is because you need to sit exams at a learning providers centre, but this is very different to actually being taught by a learning provider.

    Agreed!

    It's a bit worrying that AAT are giving the wrong impression this way. Perhaps someone (Stuart, are you out there?) from AAT could clarify?

    As Nps said, loads of people have done level 4 with no input from a Distance Learning provider (apart from ICAS).
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    What would I do without you guys? You are just incredible! Thank you for all that. So this is what I will try and do I think, I will just buy books, 1 subject at a time perhaps from amazon etc. Study and when ready for exams just go and book an exam, there isn't one here, so perhaps nearest exam centre is Birmingham I guess! However, it is not a college! I guess someone from there will mark the paper. Hey I will give it a go at least I think! About case study I still don't understand as to what I have to do and how do I go about registering with ICAS? Are they central and where do I get their number and contact details from?

    Nps, which recruitment agency did you register where you were successful in getting that job? Or I believe you applied via job centre plus website and it happened that the job was advertised by that recruitment agency who then contacted you and gave the employers details. Am I right in thinking that?

    I have placed my CV on line as these days I don't find anything straightforward. I haven't registered with CV Warehouse, which I will now do. Although have registered with job rapido, fish4jobs, reeds, gumtree, indeed etc.

    I have always filled long application (council type) up, so this is a different world for me. Hey something will hopefully turn up!

    Appreciate all your help!:001_smile:
  • NpsNps Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 782
    Where do you live? As I know the areas around Bham so may be able to point you in the direction of an exam centre. There is also a list on the AAT website.

    The exams are partly electronically marked, and the written bits are uploaded to AAT whose assessors then mark the remaining bits. The papers are not marked at the exam centre.

    As for ICAS, just ring BPP, Kaplan, Eagle training, or Premier and just choose whoever is cheapest or sounds most helpful. They will explain the rest to you. Expect to pay £200-250. It's just as if you were registering for distance learning, but just for the one module.

    Yes, you are right in your second guess, the recruitment agency were advertising via the Job Centre website.
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    I live in Coventry, so don't know Birmingham much but I can find out about the area and where it is by googling it.

    Could you advise me from compulsory units, which is the easiest and the best one to start with?

    Thank you all so much!
  • elimelim New Member Registered Posts: 9
    Hello everyone from above :) if I can say it like this.
    Firstly I am new to this forum thing and I need a bit of time until I realize how to use :). Secondly I am happy that are older people here as well as I thought I am too old starting to change my career. I have been a dental nurse for almost 9 years. I am now 31 and last year I decided to embrace the accountancy pathways. I had no clue about anything, never worked in an office, left school ages ago and obviously my knowledge in maths or being good with numbers weren't in my head anymore.

    I did AAT level 2 at college. And now I am looking for online classes rather than college attendance for the Level3. I am scared and really panicking as English is not my first language but I hope I will be ok.

    I don't know which online course to choose though as I did some research they all seem pretty good. I balance between Kaplan, BPP, homelearning or firstintuition. Any suggestions are welcome.

    And also I did apply to a few accountancy firms in my area to ask them if they can offer me one day a week for voluntary position. From 24 letters I have sent I got 4 ''no's'' and one email only to pop in and talk this further, so I am hoping to get into this firm and to start from there

    Good luck to you all and Many thanks

    Many thanks
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    Hello Elim,

    Just like you I am panicking going solo for level 4. I will at least give it a try this year, if it doesn't work, I will pop into college next year. As everyone above has said that support is always available with forumites, so I am planning to make the most of it if I can. So far everyone has been very supportive and thanks to nps, I have also bought one pair of books 'financial performance' (text and Question bank) from foyles with 20% discount.

    I think I ought to write to accountants in my town as well, see if I can get a voluntary work. I think you will be fine with level 3. Level 4 has writing, so I am not so sure how things will go but I am willing to give it a go. Will probably need a lot of motivation!
  • elimelim New Member Registered Posts: 9
    Hello Zippi

    I want to let you know that I got accepted for a 6 weeks trial period and towards theend of it review on both sides about my situation. I am starting next friday once a week for 6 weeks. So I strongly advise you to write letters and attach your CV because you never know. I hope I will be able to convince them to keep me longer than 6 weeks and I hope I will enjoy it as well.

    I am quite scared and lucky in the same time as it was the only one that accepted me.
    good luck and fingers crossed
  • zippizippi Feels At Home Registered Posts: 182
    Hello Elim,

    I guess you are very lucky! Fantastic, I am pleased for you. Did they ask you any questions relating to accounts etc. I am currently doing ITQ3 as well and have got exams next week, due to finish the course by the end of December. I will try and apply in couple of weeks when I get a bit more time.

    Good luck with yours and yes try an convince them to keep you longer. If necessary take notes when you are being trained!:thumbup1:
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