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Getting back into learning - Tasha’s story

Mother and daughter

We love hearing from students who’ve found success after gaining their qualification. We wanted to see how busy mum Tasha Dolton balanced work, life, and study by using Live Online.

Hi Tasha - why did you decide to study AAT?

I fell into accounting roles while I was working, so I was already in that area.

I then became pregnant and took a break from work. But a few years after having my little girl, I needed to go back. So I started looking at AAT.

I enjoyed the Finance roles and I wanted to understand more about it. I’d kept my ear to the ground after having my little girl, and I had continued to attend events and short courses.

I have an inquisitive mind, and I always want to know “Why?” which annoyed my parents when I was younger! I was going along to these courses and I realised I enjoyed it, but I didn’t understand it. I wanted to know the “Why” part so I could turn it into a career.

And why choose Live Online?

At first, I selected to do Distance Learning, but I put it off for a very veeerrrryyy long time! So then I decided to do LiveOnline. I thought the flexibility would suit me more, and it meant I could study whilst raising my daughter. At least if I did miss a class, I could watch it back later.

I had to give myself a set time and routine to make sure I got through everything on the course. It’s hard to keep your discipline and it can be overwhelming at times, but I wanted to get into a routine and get through it all as quickly as I could.

I ended up doing a bit of classroom study as well as LiveOnline. It was great because I got to study in a way that suited me, but I was also at home when I needed to be.

I was finding that Level 2 (Foundation) was fairly easy as I’d had previous jobs in Finance. So I ended up doing Level 2 and 3 (Foundation and Advanced) together within a year, then I decided to go straight on to Level 4 (Professional) whilst I was in “learning mode”!

I thought that I’d keep the momentum and finish off my Level 4 whilst I was on a roll. Passed all my exams first time, I’m really proud!

I want to spend the next few years getting experience in a practice so that I’m able to do everything.

Nicely done! You should be proud. What are you going to do with your AAT qualification?

I’m self-employed at the moment - bookkeeping. I’m trying to build my experience up so that I can become fully licensed. I currently have a partial license.

My daughter is 9 now, so I’m still having to do school runs and stuff alongside building my experience in the field. I want to spend the next few years getting experience in a practice so that I’m able to do everything, like finalising accounts.

It’s busy doing all of this together, but when my daughter is older, I want to go back into full time work and it would be great to be fully licensed so I have more options. I’m not sure whether I’d like to be full time self-employed, or if I’d like to work for a company, but either way I’m going to build my experience so that I’m able to do everything.

I recently got my MAAT status, so things are still moving in the right direction.

You had some gaps in your learning - what were the challenges?

It was a bit intimidating at first, going back in to learning after all that time off. I was thinking “How am I going to deal with learning again?”. There was definitely a bit of anxiety - but I’ve always enjoyed learning, I was ready to learn about this subject and turn it into a skill.

Even when my daughter was very young, I kept my ear to the ground and went on courses and to events. So I already had a good idea about what was going on, but I just wanted to formalise it and turn it into something that was recognised so I could earn money.

Just commit the time, and try your hardest. If you fail, it’s really not the end of the world

How did you find Live Online?

LiveOnline was weird at first. That method of studying didn’t exist when I was last learning. It was an alien concept and it took a little getting used to. I wasn’t sure how to behave or act, and it all felt strange and unnatural.

In the end though, I found it all very helpful. It’s just like being in a classroom - there’s always great discussions going on, and if you didn’t want to contribute to the conversation you didn’t have to.

I loved it though - there were always lots of people from different situations with different ideas. They would ask questions in the discussion, and it would spark off ideas in my own head. I think my own work got better just because I was part of these discussions, it’s always a chance to think about a new perspective.

The tutors were so helpful. They were all so accommodating and knowledgeable, and great around exam time. One of my tutors even marked my written questions in his spare time. He really went above and beyond and things like this contributed to me passing all of my exams first time

What advice would you give future students in your position?

Practice, practice, practice!

The online practice tests are such a useful resource - do all of them! It’s great for your understanding of the topic and it makes you feel so much more prepared for the exam. It means there hopefully won’t be any nasty surprises.

The written parts of the exam are not marked by default, so I would make sure to arrange it with your tutor early on so they will mark some of your written answers to help you for the exam. The tutors will always help you where they can.

Other than that, just get ready to commit the time and make sacrifices. You have to work hard and study in your spare time, so make sure you’re prepared to do that.

It’s helpful having a set routine so you can get into the swing of studying. Just commit the time, and try your hardest. If you fail, it’s really not the end of the world…. Just take the exam again!

In a similar position?

If Tasha’s story is familiar, and you’re needing a study method that works for you, Live Online combines the best elements of a classroom learning experience, with the flexibility of learning from home.