Making a change in your life after being in the same career for 26 years is not easy. The journey to making a career change, and indeed going back to university, is usually a long road and there can be many paths.
You may have been led here through a traumatic life experience, or like me you decided going back to study just had to happen.
I started planning to study full-time a few years ago and I’ve gathered some advice for all current and future students. The hardest part about this decision is trusting yourself, and then building the right environment for success.
- Do what YOU feel is right. I’ve already completed two master’s degrees and have worked in senior IT roles for far too long. I always said to myself that when I retired I would write books, biographies and perhaps study my real passion – history. On the right side of 50, I thought waiting 15 years probably wasn’t going to cut it. Because for me, IT can only entertain for so long. This is when I moved to point number two.
- Plan. Fiscally speaking, studying full-time when you have a mortgage to pay, children to take care of, animals and all the rest takes some good planning. Your lifestyle will change (for the better), and so will the lifestyle of any of your dependents. I have my own vegetable garden, purchase meat in bulk, and cut out those enjoyable overseas trips. The government helps in small ways too. Austudy isn’t much, but it covers expenses like textbooks and other student fees. Create a spreadsheet or a household budget planner, you can find examples online.
- Pick the right course. Picking the right course and right university takes time. I recommend creating a list of subjects and outcomes you need and then creating selection criteria. Does it need to be face-to-face? Or can you do a mix of online and face-to-face? Do you want to become an academic? If so, what universities are better suited for this? Do you want to become a rocket scientist? If so, where are the best courses for this? Check out CSU’s courses here.
- Own the goal. I spent a lot of time worrying about my age and not my goal. Keep remembering why you’re doing this and the way you felt when you first decided to make the leap. No corny nonsense about ‘If you don’t fight, you lose’, or ‘Don’t be frightened of failure, be frightened of not trying’. Let’s face it, you got this far and you own this change.
This advice is easy to write and may sound easy, however it takes a lot of time and planning to execute. It’s the start of a whole new journey for me and I hope to share it with you as I learn a new craft and come to grips with being a full-time student after a long, long gap.
Just remember if it feels right, it is.