There are many reasons why you might not have got the qualifications you were capable of during your younger years. Money could have been a problem, with fees being a sticking point in many countries across the world. Mental health problems are not uncommon in teenagers, which is hardly surprising given the physical and emotional changes they are going through at a time when they are under enormous pressure to do their best, and they might simply not have felt able to cope with studying. On the other hand, many teens don’t really know what they want to do, and either turn to work as an alternative to further education or study a subject that doesn’t fulfil them in the way it should. Whatever the reason might be, it’s never too late to get back into training and education and make changes in your life.
Why is further study good for your finances?
You need to be able to take the long view on this, because the rewards could be a year or two (or more, depending on your course) down the line. You might need to make a few sacrifices, and it will surely be hard work if you’re studying and working at the same time, but the rewards at the end will make it all worthwhile. For one thing, a whole new world of career opportunities will be opened up to you, and with that the chance to get a job with a much more satisfying remuneration package. You’ll also be able to work at doing something you love, rather than clock-watching in a job that does little more than earn you a living. If you enjoy your work, you’re also more likely to do well and progress up the career ladder.
If you’re looking at academia, you could study pretty much any subject at any level with any institute of higher learning across the world. This is all thanks to the internet, which has made distance learning available to millions. The variety of courses is extensive, so you could choose a highly specialised topic or a more general subject area, depending on your interests and what you want to achieve. Distance learning does require a degree of self-discipline, as you won’t have anyone chasing you up to get your assignments done. You might also need to attend summer schools or something similar once a year or possibly more frequently. Check your course details very carefully before signing up, so you know if this will apply to you, and what it would involve. The other advantage of distance learning, in addition to the range of opportunities, is that the courses are very often considerably cheaper than if you were attending in person.
Anything that has a practical element to it is more likely to involve studying at a place near to where you live so that you can take part in hands-on training and assessments. That restricts your choices somewhat, unless you’re in a position to move. Fortunately, most locations have a college that will offer vocational courses, many of them on a part-time or evening class basis. You’ll need to work out what classes will fit with your schedule, which may mean attending a college further afield if it offers more convenient options.
Finances for mature students
Part-time and distance learning courses are generally much more affordable than full-time study, so you have an advantage from the start. If you’re working and plan to support yourself whilst studying, as most people do, you need to make sure you can afford to pay the fees for your course.
Many institutions offer payment plans to help you spread the cost of the course, for example charging you for each module as you take it, or enabling you to pay in monthly instalments. If you’re already in a job you like that requires further qualifications in order to advance your career, you might find your employer will pay for, or contribute towards the cost of your training. It’s always worth asking, but be prepared to make your case in terms of how your employer will benefit from you taking the course.
If you’re funding your studies yourself, you may be entitled to grants or loans, depending on your personal circumstances. These will vary from country to country, so check the official information for where you live to see what help you could get. If your finances are proving to be something of a barrier, you could consider some form of credit. The last thing you want to do is get into debt, but a manageable loan could be an option. You can find out more about what credit services would best suit you, and what you would be able to get, on financial advice websites or by talking to a financial adviser.
Combining work and study successfully
There’s no doubt that taking on a course as a mature student will require plenty of self-discipline, as well as energy and the determination not just to complete the course but to do your best. You’ll need to prioritise your studies over leisure activities too, and for all these reasons it’s important to choose a subject you feel passionate about. Otherwise, it will be hard to sustain your enthusiasm. Most courses will take a year, or thereabouts, which isn’t a long time in the scheme of things. Undergraduate degrees could take between three and five years to complete by distance learning, which is a considerable commitment but will be one of the outstanding experiences and accomplishments of your life if you stick it out. Take advantage of all the advice and information available from study websites, time management and motivational advice, and the assistance offered by your institution, to give yourself the best chance of success.
When you’re holding your certificate, diploma, or degree in your hands, the feeling of achievement will be incomparable. To know you have succeeded in such a challenge is reward enough, but you’ll also be opening many more doors to future happiness and prosperity.