Is it worth your time and money going back to University or starting a degree for the first time when you’re not 18? I’m sure everyone will have a different answer to that question but I believe it all depends on why you’re going. If it’s purely for interest then great, good for you. If it’s because you think it will get you a better job (or just any job), have you done your research first? When I realised I wanted to become a career counsellor I researched the places I could study and talked to the lecturers – “How many people do this qualification?” “How practical is it?” “What are my chances of being employed afterwards?” etc etc. I also talked to people who had done the Graduate Diploma I eventually chose to see how they balanced work and study (I study part-time) and what they really thought of the course.
I therefore enrolled being aware of my chances of being employed and who it was that could be my prospective employers. I was also aware of the practical experience I needed alongside the academic stuff. I believe every student should be thinking about this but mature students are, well, older, usually have some life experience, and it almost seems criminal if they haven’t done this research. If you think qualification X will get you job Y then you realise it doesn’t, that’s when being a mature student is definitely NOT worth it.
Finding a job after study is something that I know several mature student worry about because they come into the Vic Careers office and tell us. I think it’s definitely important to book a time with us at Vic Careers to discuss your career path but you might like to have a look at some of these resources too:
Coincidentally, Careers NZ have just posted a very interesting blog on job hunting tips for mature workers, take a look here
The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) and Graduate Prospects both based in the UK put together a really interesting booklet for mature students on the finding work process. Although it has UK-based referral information and was written back in 2005 I recommend you have a read through it. You can find it here
It has some great quotes which I’ve included below to whet your appetite:
‘The whole process of career planning and job hunting is rarely quick; researching options alone can involve many hours of reading and talking to people. You should start the process early in your studies. Others will do all they can to encourage and help you but, ultimately, it is down to you.’
‘If taking the degree is a complete change in career, take up some part-time work, paid or unpaid, and start very early to compile a CV and build up experience around the degree.’
‘I spent a long time identifying the skills and experience from my assortment of previous jobs that I could claim to be relevant or transferable. As it turned out, my age didn’t seem to be a disadvantage at all. I think what was an advantage for me was that I’d thought hard about what I wanted and what I could offer to an employer, so I could be fairly decisive and confident.’
‘Mature students do offer additional experiences that younger students have not had. Often, life experiences bring a richer and fuller perspective to the issues being discussed.’
I also found this blog post last year The life of a Mature Student
It’s not just us at Vic Careers that can help, Student Learning Support Service has great information too.