Soila Lemmetty had a dual upper secondary-level qualification and was working as a restaurant cook, when she started to dream about a career as a teacher. She did not believe in her chances for university degree studies, but decided to begin the Basic Studies in Education module at the Open University. Eventually, the Open University track took her into degree studies at JYU, where she is now a doctoral student engaged in working life research.
In her teens, Soila Lemmetty considered the restaurant business as an obvious career choice for herself: keen on cooking at home, she knew that this field would offer employment so that it would be easy to gain economic independence. After comprehensive school, Lemmetty applied for a vocational institute in spring 2006. As if in passing, she decided to fill in a questionnaire, which was attached to the admission letter and inquired about her interest in trying for a dual qualification, that is, aiming at the matriculation examination alongside her vocational studies.
“At comprehensive school, I was an ordinary student with decent grades, and there were no grades below 7 in my school-leaving certificate,” says Lemmetty when describing how she performed in school. “Typical of dual qualifications, I had four subjects in my matriculation examination. I performed in these in line with my goals – I passed, with the grades ranging from A (approbatur, the lowest approved grade) to M (magna cum laude appropatur, the third highest grade).”
After a couple of years working in a restaurant kitchen, Lemmetty considered applying for university studies, but the academic character felt strange to her, however. Eventually people close to her encouraged her to try Open University studies. The leap into the unknown was worth taking.
“When I started the Basic Studies in Education module at the JYU Open University, I became instantly addicted. The encouraging, constructive and well-rounded feedback I received on my first learning tasks gave me more confidence in my abilities as a university student, while the subject matter contents kindled my enthusiasm for educational sciences.”
“The encouraging, constructive and well-rounded feedback I received on my learning tasks gave me more confidence in my abilities as a university student.”
Studying alongside work meant long days and holidays dedicated to studies, but work at a restaurant provided the necessary financial support and also a counterbalance for reading textbooks. On the other hand, the flexible and multiform study arrangements enabled studying while working.
To master’s studies through the Open University
Due to her somewhat low grades in the matriculation examination, Lemmetty found the idea of becoming a regular degree student a distant dream at first, despite the fact that her grades in the basic studies in education were laudable. As her studies progressed, her desire to complete a whole degree programme increased, however, and Lemmetty found out how she could apply for it at JYU.
“The Open University path seemed to be an almost perfect option for me, because it wasn’t based on my past choices but on my present and future goals.”
In those days, the study programme of education and adult education at the JYU Open University comprised about 100 ECTS credits. In addition to the basic and intermediate studies of this field, the whole set also included studies in a minor subject as well as language and communication studies. Furthermore, your grade average had to be at least 3 on the 1–5 scale if you wanted to become a degree student. Nowadays, the mandatory studies in this programme include only the basic and intermediate studies, about 60 credits in total.
“Entering the university through this path was not based on my past choices but on my present and future goals.”
Lemmetty completed her Open University studies in about a year and a half. She started as a degree student at JYU in 2012 and completed her bachelor’s degree a year later.
“For my master’s studies, I chose adult education as my major, within which I focused especially on the theme of working life. My background in kitchen work started to seem different from the perspective of working life research and adult education studies. My vocational background, in particular, turned out to be a strength – that experience offered plenty to draw on in support of theoretical insights.”
A dissertation and path development
For the past four years, Soila Lemmetty has been working in research, teaching and planning posts at the Department of Education and in the Open University.
“I am finalising my doctoral dissertation on self-directed learning in technological work,” she says. “I am currently working as a project researcher at the Department of Education, in a research project dealing with ethical management and creativity in organisations.”
Now, at the beginning of 2020, Lemmetty is on a research visit at Webster University in Geneva. She is editing an international omnibus and writing a research article on creativity in working life together with creativity researcher Vlad Glaveanu.
Lemmetty is also involved, in terms of both her work and experience, in a project called Alternative path to university (TRY). The project develops Open University paths to better respond to the challenges of working-age people’s needs for continuous learning and to the needs of young people who are currently in or have already completed upper secondary education.
Lemmetty hopes that besides student achievement in studies along this route, the applicants’ motivation would also be assessed so that future goals would be considered more important than past choices. The changing Open University path provides educational options for various applicants irrespective of their starting points and individual grades in the matriculation examination.
“On the Open University path, one’s possibilities are not determined by past mistakes or wrong choices, and achievement on this path is not dependent on any random success or failure.”
Read more about Open University paths
JYU Open University
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