Whether you are preparing to return to the workforce, looking to change career direction or simply up for learning something new, studying as a mum is challenging but extremely rewarding.
With such a wide range of training options available these days, the world really is your oyster. The flexibility of online learning also allows you to study to your own schedule, around family and work commitments.
These days you can rock up to class in your pyjamas with a glass of wine! How good is that? (Just make sure it’s not a two-way video lecture.)
The prospect of studying as a mature age student might have you worried for a number of reasons. Let’s get some of them out of the way:
- You haven’t studied for a while or didn’t finish high school. Never fear! Most places of learning accept mature age students based on previous work/life experience. Most also offer bridging courses, academic writing courses and research courses to help get your study skills up to scratch.
- There aren’t enough hours in the day. This is a biggie and totally dependent on your circumstances. Taking on a study load is a big commitment. You have to be organised and dedicated to make it work. To do lists and schedules will be your best friend. Get everyone in the house to pitch in, call on friends and family to help when necessary, order takeout and forget the ironing pile. You have to be prepared to do what is necessary to make studying a priority.
- It will take time away from your family. Many a time I’ve felt guilty when I’ve had to tell my kids to go play while I finish an assignment. But then I remember what an amazing example I’m setting for them. They are seeing me work hard to achieve my dreams and make a better life for my family. They are also learning responsibility and teamwork as they help to keep the household running. I call that a parenting win.
- You’ll be the odd one out. This is definitely not true. Mature age study is the new black. You will find yourself connecting with folk from all walks of life, which is a great experience in itself as you can learn so much from your classmates.
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, the next biggest thing is to decide WHAT you want to study. If you are still working on this the Department of Education has a neat little app called Career Quiz. It asks you questions to determine your work preferences then directs you to potential occupations. It even gives a guideline on how much each profession earns, average qualifications and how prolific employment is in that field.
Then it’s on to the how and where.
As there are so many educational offerings available, it is important to investigate your options carefully. If you are paying for a qualification, you want to make sure it is legit and will get you were you want to go.
Some things to consider when looking at courses:
- Is the provider a Registered Training Organisation (RTO)? They should be clearly identified as such.
- Do you need a certain level of qualification? e.g. certificate, diploma, degree etc. or will a certificate of completion suffice?
- Have you already got experience or prior learning that will get you credit towards a qualification?
- Do you want to study online or are you able to attend a campus?
- Is the study load flexible?
- Can you put your studies on hold without penalty if required?
- What sort of payment scheme is available? Will you qualify for FEE-HELP?
Most organisations have student advisors available through Live Chat, email or via phone so don’t be shy about asking all the questions you need to before making a choice.
Here are some good places to start looking at courses and relevant info:
- The Good Universities Guide
- Study Assist
- Open Universities Australia
- Quality Indicators For Learning and Teaching
Also check out industry related organisations that may offer bespoke courses or short courses so you can dip your toe in without committing to a larger qualification.
Making the decision to study while juggling a family is a big deal, but keep in mind that mature age study is often more rewarding because you are there because you want to be, meaning you are more focused and committed.
Good luck with reaching your goals.