“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” - Confucius
In the UK, a mature student is any student who is over the age of 21 by the time they start their degree. You can apply to any university as a mature student. There are plenty of ways to go about it too, especially if you want to change careers.
Whether you’re looking for work, working part-time or full time, here’s how you can go back to school as a mature student.
Why Go Back to School When You’re Working
Every year, more and more people decide to learn new skills and get new qualifications. You also need to get back to revising and studying, which might feel a bit weird at first. However, there are a lot of benefits to doing this. There are several reasons to go back to your studies.
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You might be bored with your job. “Boreout”, or “boredom burnout syndrome”, is becoming increasingly common in UK workplaces. Due to this situation, many people are deciding to go return their studies to gain new skills and change their career.
With so many undergraduate degrees and postgraduate courses available, there's never been a better time to enjoy university life or some more education. Whether you go back to university, night classes, or online classes, it’s a good time to improve your IT skills, foreign language skills, or build your CV and find a new job.
Some people might also want more direction in their life. Changing careers is sometimes the only option you have to feel better at work. This is why many people go back to school, get new A Levels, study a degree, or professional training for adults. Retraining or changing careers might be part of your plans for your family’s financial security.
You just want to go back to school for fun.
Are you interested in history, coding, or learning Italian?
There are courses for adults where you can feed your passions and skills that could be useful during your professional life. Your chosen course might be something you've always wanted to do but never had the time for university or opted for a course with better employability. If you enjoy your studies, you’ll be more successful in them, even if you’ve been out of school for a while.
Going back to your studies is also a great way to go on a break from work. This might breathe new life into your career. Perhaps you might be interested in a skills appraisal to help you think about your future.
Different Types of Studies for Mature Students
Once you’ve decided to go back to school, you need to think about the type of courses you want to do and the admission requirements. This is known as “continuing education” and is generally used for all education and training aimed at those who’ve already left school or otherwise finished their education. In other words, it refers to anyone who’s finished their studies, joined the workforce, and then decided to go back and study further.
Continuing education is quite present at university. Like education for those who are still in education and have never left, mature students can study an undergraduate degree, a postgraduate degree, and PhD, or even diplomas and school qualifications like GCSEs and A Levels. The latter is useful for catching up if you’re planning on going to university later on.
There are also access courses for those that don't meet the prerequisites for certain undergraduate courses and most types of continuing education can be applied to in the same way as younger students, which is usually through UCAS.
University isn’t the only way to go back to school or study further. Those who want to go back to school or study more can also learn online. Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of online services that can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
This is particularly true for MOOCs (massive open online courses). These online courses are often offered by big universities. This is your first step to lifelong learning. There are also other organisations offering distance learning.
Be wary of certain private organisations as they may be an attractive option, they can also be more expensive than public organisations.
Finally, think about what these qualifications and experience are worth. Your professional experience and qualifications may help you in your career. You may even be able to ask for more money.
How Much Does It Cost to Go Back to School?
Studying costs money. In addition to paying for the courses themselves, you also may need to take into account how much money you’ll lose by not working or by working less.
So how much does it cost to go back to school?
The cost of lifelong learning can vary a lot. In some cases, a training course over a few days can cost as much as training throughout an entire year. You’ll need to think about all the costs involved with tuition but also what you’ll need to pay for in terms of materials.
While tuition fees are the same for all undergraduates, regardless of their age, some UK universities have scholarships and bursaries available for those deciding to return to full or part-time study.
In addition to all of that, you may also need to find a way to earn money during your course. While some may be relishing the opportunity to relive the student experience, other adult learners might have concerns such as childcare and a mortgage to pay.
You might consider working part-time or doing night classes and there are also options for those wanting to go back to school.
There’s also funding for mature students, for example. Mature students have the option to apply for student finance. This can be useful if you’re looking at ways to pay for your studies. University courses can be expensive and it feels even more expensive when you may have to give up some of your income to do it. You might be able to take a sabbatical from work and return to the same position once you’ve finished your studies.
If you’re not working, financial support will be even more important so make sure you look at any financial support you’re entitled too.
Find out more about being a mature student.
How Can You Choose What to Study?
Going back to school is a big opportunity. Whether it’s for changing careers, finding work, or getting ahead in your current career, going back to school and lifelong learning is a way to change how you work. But you will need to choose the right courses!
Baking, engineering, accounting, IT, etc., no matter what you’re interested in, the first thing to do is think about your career. Think about why you want to study more and what you plan to get out of it.
If you want to change careers, research what you want to do. If you want to gain more experience, think about internships. You need to keep this in mind when putting together your applications. Consider doing a skills appraisal to work out what you’re good at and what you can do with those skills. While this won’t make the decision for you, it will make things a little clearer.
To choose a course, you might want to talk to former students. You might want to think about what they’re doing, what they’re working on, and how it helped their professional careers. You’ll have a better idea of what you can do with your qualifications.
Additionally, you might want to think about looking at the entry requirements, picking up a prospectus, or attending open days. An open day is an opportunity for the university to say “check out our courses and campus!”. You can see the students union and other student services.
While each UK university costs more or less the same to attend, not every degree course is the same and neither are the lecturers. This could be your chance to see what it's all about.
You might also want to talk about this with those close to you to hear what they think about your plans to study more. Make sure that they’re supportive of your choice to study and will help you make the right decision. Whether you’re attending classes or have opted for distance learning, you need support.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s your decision at the end of the day. Think about what you want. This will help you stay motivated throughout your studies.
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