After some time off from formal education, it can be hard to know what’s involved in getting back into it. Many people may think that it’s a long and rigorous process, but it’s easy enough to get started. Here is what’s involved in going back to education.
First of all, you might know that you want to return to college, but don’t know what you want to do. Start by assessing your situation. Ask yourself what you want to get out of going back to education. It could be a career change, learning new skills or simply to meet other like-minded people.
If a new career is your reason to go back but you’re not sure just exactly where you want to go with it, there are many support options available. The Careers Service offers free and impartial advice to potential students. They can assist you by phone, webchat, email or indeed in person. These people are trained to help you identify your goals and together action plans.
Before deciding on a course, it’s important to understand your strengths. Regardless of if you have not stepped into a classroom in years, you will still have collated some form of skills. You could be good at asking questions and listening to people. You could also be able to organise your time or working out how to solve problems. Whatever it is, you should try to find a course that will allow you to flex your skills.
Many mature students can be put off by their academic ability in terms of their capability to achieve well in exams. However, not every course expects students to be able to perform in this way. Some require students to build up a portfolio of their work as they progress through the course, while others will require practical demonstrations.
Finally, it’s important to consider your options in terms of full-time, part-time or evening courses. Most colleges, universities and institutions will have spaces for mature students on their courses. The spots do not require you to have the best academic ability. Instead, there will be a range of qualifications considered. This means that you will be given credit for your work experience, previous education or skills.
However, if you don’t have the time to study full-time, it could be better looking for part-time or evening courses. These courses will pack in course content into a shorter period of time. Another option is to take an online course. These courses often allow students to work at a time and place that suits them and will not require them to leave their homes.
Finally, money is a big component involved in going back to college. If money is your concern in terms of going back to college, most institutions will offer student finance plans. This can help with your tuition fees, accommodation or general college life. You also may be eligible for grants or scholarships. Part-time, evening and online courses are generally cheaper than full-time courses, however. They will leave you with more free time to continue working if this is a requirement for you.
Next, check out our post about how to overcome challenges you may be faced with when returning to education.