When we think of heading off to college, we tend to think of people in their late teen years or their early 20s. We think of people who have just finished compulsory education and who are stepping straight into higher education, keeping the ball rolling. This makes sense. After all, the vast majority of students who enroll for undergraduate degrees do tend to be between the ages of 18 and 21. But did you know that there are many mature students out there too? Plenty of people decide to take their first steps towards heading back to college well past the age of 21.
These students form just as important a part of any university’s demographic as the aforementioned age category, will receive the same quality education as their counterparts, and can benefit from a degree in exactly the same way as younger students. So, if you’ve been considering heading back to college, but have put things off or ignored the interest because you feel it’s too late to start, it’s time to clear away that myth and take a look at the more practical aspects of whether higher education is the right path for you to take.
Could Heading Back to College Be a Good Career Move?
Here’s some further information on the subject of heading back to college that can help to give you a better idea of your options!
The Benefits of Studying
There are so many benefits that come hand in hand with studying. You learn new skills, take on a whole lot of information, and can have a great time along the way. Here’s some deeper insight into exactly why you might want to pursue a degree course!
To Change Your Career Path
If you’re unhappy in the career you’ve worked your way up in right now, do something about it. So many people will avoid leaving jobs, simply because they took a lot of time getting to the stage that they’re at – pushing for promotions, trying hard for pay rises. But if you’re not happy, or another area interests you better, go for it! You’ll generally find you’re much happier on a day to day basis when you’re doing what you actually want to do.
A degree could open the doors to a role that you genuinely find enjoyable and rewarding, where you look forward to working each day rather than dreading it. Choosing the right degree can help you to train and qualify in the right area for the role you want to pursue. Sure, this may feel intimidating. You may have to alter your lifestyle a bit before you reach the place you want to be. But all in all, it’ll be more than worth your time, effort, and financial investment.
Advancing in Your Current Career
Some people love the careers they already have, but they want to make some significant steps up the ladder. If this sounds like you, you could benefit from pursuing higher education too! Gaining an educational qualification like a degree can automatically make you better suited to more advanced positions and you could use the significant addition to your resume to justify yourself in wanting to receive a promotion or a pay rise. It can also help make your day to day role a lot easier if you gain further and more specialist knowledge into it. In short, higher education can really push your career in the right direction.
For the Love of the Subject
While the main aim of many people’s studies will be to advance their careers, it’s important to remember that money and career progression aren’t everything. Sure, they can be important. But hopefully, you’ll be specializing in an area, field or subject of study that you truly love. Something that you’d study for the sheer love of the subject. This will make your studies much more enjoyable, as you’ll be engaged and will actively look forward to the studies and the workload.
Choosing Your Mode of Study
Besides the fear of being “too old” to study, many people will avoid getting involved in heading back to college is a big commitment. For younger people who are straight out of school, it may not seem to be that huge a commitment. They can simply move and live their lives as students. However, when you already have other responsibilities that you will need to make your studies workaround, things can quickly seem challenging or even intimidating. Perhaps you have kids to work around.
Perhaps you have financial commitments and need to work to meet them, so have to make your studies work around a job. Not everyone can just up and move to campus and fully immerse themselves in the full-time student lifestyle. The good news? Increasing numbers of institutions are offering more and more flexible learning options to open up their courses to as many people as possible. Here are just a few different options that you might be open to.
First, there’s the traditional full-time course. If you don’t have other commitments when heading back to college and can focus solely on your studies, this is the fastest way to get your degree. Most full-time undergraduate courses last three to four years and most full-time masters degree courses will last just one year. This is also great for those who may want to immerse themselves in the full university environment and make the most of all resources available.
An alternative to the full-time course is a part-time course. This allows you to ease off the workload a little. Sure, it will take twice as long to complete (the average part-time undergraduate degree will take six to seven years and the average part-time master's degree course will take two years), but this will help you to better fit in other work or commitments around the course.
Next, we have what is perhaps the most flexible learning option when heading back to college – online courses. These are ideal for those amongst us who have jobs we need to maintain, children or other dependents, or other commitments. Online study means that you get the same, great-quality university education, but you don’t have to attend lectures and seminars on campus or on a face to face basis. This means you can study at times that are more convenient for you.
You can study around commitments. On top of this, it gives you more free-range over which institution you study with. If you like the look of a course at a far-away university with a good reputation, but don’t want to move, the online study could be an ideal option for you!
Choosing the Right Course
If the above options have made university feel more accessible to you, and if you are considering higher education as an option, it’s time to start looking at the different courses that are available out there. There’s bound to be the perfect course to suit your needs and preferences somewhere. You name it, there’s probably a degree course specializing in it. Only you will know what course is right for you when you start thinking about heading back to college.
It could be an IT Security Degree. It could be an English Degree. It could be a chemistry degree. It could be fine art, medicine, digital media, economics, mathematics, history, classics… the list is endless. If you’re studying for the love of a subject, chances are you already know what you want to study before you even heading back to college. If you’re studying for a specific job role, conduct some research into what is necessary for the position.
Choosing the Right University
Once you know the course you want, start looking at different universities that offer it. Different institutions specialize in specific subjects and some have great departments for particular courses. Choosing the right university for you will fall down to various different factors. The location could be important. The university’s place in league tables could be important. You might want to study under a specific professor. Just take your time, find the course within the institution and you’ll know when you’ve found the right place for you.
Funding the Venture
Remember, higher education doesn’t come cheap. There are tuition fees to consider and then you have to consider the impact it may have on your income – most people earn less when studying. Look carefully into how you’re going to fund your studies before even thinking about heading back to college. There are various different funding options out there besides forking out the cash yourself. Take a look at scholarships, grants, loans, and any other forms of funding that may be available to you. It’s worth applying for any help you can get – especially if you don’t have to pay it back!
This may seem like a lot of information to take in. But this is a potentially life-changing step you can take – especially in terms of your career. So, you should know all the ins and outs before getting started. Hopefully, some of the above information will be able to help you out on your path to further studies!