Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom. – Oprah Winfrey
Often it takes people a long time to figure out what it is that they want to do in terms of a career. They might have gone to university after high school, completed a degree, and obtained a job in that field only to discover that they’re not satisfied.
Or, you might find yourself unable to advance yourself in your job, you might have difficulty achieving that dream promotion. Further education can help.
Returning to university or starting a course once you’ve entered the workforce may seem difficult, but it’s not impossible.
Whether it’s training in IT, studying to become an engineer, or undertaking a short course, getting your education right the second time around could be the best thing for your career.
Improving Your Career by Returning to Adult Education
You might have decided to undertake adult learning on a whim or it might be the result of months of careful consideration about your career and daily life. You should ask yourself a few questions about how going back to school will assist you before you do it.
Firstly, think about why you would like to, or feel like you need to, study more. Are you seeking a promotion or are you changing careers?
Once you’ve established your reason, you can start searching for appropriate courses or training. If you’re uncertain about which one to choose, ensure the course will teach you exactly what you need to learn. Don’t choose the first course you find, assess your options!
Check the admissions procedure for each course. You might not have the required qualifications to get into the course, or you might need to put together an application or even a portfolio if it’s a course in the arts. You may also need to brush up on certain things before you apply for the course, or begin it.
You should ensure that you can fit the course around your lifestyle. You need to consider whether you have a family, a job, or any other commitments that could impact your studies.
Finally, if you’re changing careers, you should consider whether that field is overpopulated, competitive, and if there are sufficient work opportunities. If so, consider whether you’re willing to put in the hard work to succeed in that field, or whether you should choose another one with more opportunities.
In relation to continuing education, you can choose from:
- University degrees
- Technical and Further Education (TAFE)
- Industry-specific training
- General skills courses
- Online courses or distance learning
- Short courses
- Evening classes
Review your CV and consider undertaking a skills appraisal to establish what you need to learn. Everyone has different knowledge and skills and what you might need to learn will vary depending on your situation.
Adult learners can be successful when they return to education as they've done it all before and hopefully won't make the same mistakes that younger students make the first time they attend universities and TAFE.
An adult learner can also apply for a student loan and student aid for childcare so make sure you check all of the options available to you.
Undertake a Skills Appraisal
After having worked for a long time, it can be hard to figure out what you need to study. Your skills and knowledge aren’t the same as they were when you left school, which is why you should appraise your skills.
An appraisal can assist you in focusing on your skills and your professional aspirations. By asking yourself certain questions, or having someone else ask you, you’ll discover what skills you have and those that you need. You’ll also find out exactly how much you need to learn and the type of studies you should undertake.
A career counsellor or career coach can complete a skills appraisal for you and there are also many sites and resources you can refer to online. Once you’ve completed your appraisal, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not you need to study, and if so, the type of courses you should be looking for. This will assist you in making the right decision for your career. Consider the appraisal a way to answer all the questions you might have. It can help you find your way and choose the right path.
Learn more about the cost of being a mature aged student.
Figuring Out What You Must Do
As we’ve discussed, returning to school isn’t a decision you should make lightly. Even if the idea pops into your head, you need to think about it carefully. There are a many things to take into consideration when choosing courses or training.
If you decide to enrol in a course, you’ll have to balance your family life, your life as a student, and your job if you’re still going to be working while completing your studies. You should find out how many hours and how much work is involved before you begin. In addition to your classes and coursework, there may be presentations, homework, assignments, projects, exams and possibly even internships or work placements.
Completing a work placement may be complicated if you’ve already got a job so to avoid becoming overwhelmed, you might want to consider all of this before making your final choice. Don’t hesitate to contact the course leader or teachers and enquire about what’s involved and whether it will fit into your life.
If you know any other adults who have returned to school, it might be worthwhile talking to them. But keep in mind that everyone is different and they might have a vastly different experience to you.
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Discuss With Former Students
Another way to decide whether or not a course is right for you is to ask those who have already completed the course. They’ll have a better knowledge of exactly how much work is involved and what the course is like. Other mature aged students will also understand your situation and their experience could give you a better idea as to whether the course is possible for you or not.
Here are some questions you could ask: why did they decide to undertake further education? Did the course help them get a promotion or change careers? What are pros and cons of the course? And finally, what are they doing now?
These are all things you could ask former students. If you need some help finding former students, you could look for groups on Facebook, for example.
Most students should be happy to share their thoughts and feelings about the course with you. Consider getting in touch with a few different people as not everyone will have had the same experience.
While you might think going back to university or TAFE is simple, schooling may have changed a lot since you were there and it could be hard for returning students who aren't used to it.
Learn more about being a mature aged student.
Talk to Your Family and Friends
Before deciding to go back into formal education, you might want to talk to your family and friends about it. It might be difficult to manage if you’ve got kids, for example. You’ll need to be able to study but also make sure that the household runs smoothly too. Parental support may be an important part of your decision as they can provide moral support and possibly even care for the kids while you’re doing exams for example.
It’s important to ensure that your family and friends are on board. If you don’t have a good support system, you’ll be more likely to give up if things get tough. Even with a good support system, you should still choose a course that gives you enough time to do everything else that you need to do. Online courses or night classes might be a good idea, for example.
If your family and friends support you, you’ll feel more motivated, ambitious, and possibly get a few free hours to attend classes. They could also assist you in figuring out what you can do with your new qualifications. It’s always great to get a second opinion.
You should also let your current employer know and ensure they’re on board too if you’re going to be studying while working. Then your boss may be more flexible when you’ve got assignments due and exams, for example.
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Consider What You Want
If you’re lacking motivation, you probably won’t get very far. Consider what you want to do and ensure it’s something that you’ve always been interested in. Returning to school is a second chance that you shouldn’t let pass you by. You also don’t want to change careers and find yourself in a worse place than before.
Think about what you’d like to do more than anything else in the world. Then start researching how you can make it a reality. If you’re motivated, you’re more likely to be successful so don’t hesitate to reach for what you’ve always dreamed of.
Remember that going to school doesn't necessarily mean that you have to earn a degree or go to university, there's also online learning and private tutors. If it’s not possible for you to return to university, think about non-traditional courses, such as an online degree or distance learning. If you can't give up your job, online classes or online courses might be the best option for you.
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