Four questions to ask yourself before returning to study
Considering going back to uni? If you’ve tried studying before and it didn’t work out, going back to university after some time off can be pretty daunting. You don’t want to start a new course only to find it’s not what you want to do. And when you’re working, it can be difficult to imagine how you’d even fit uni into your week. Studying takes time and discipline, yes, but the opportunities it can open up could completely change the course of your life.
If you’re unsure about whether you can – or should – submit an application for that course you’ve always wondered about, here are four questions to ask before you make the leap back to uni.
Have you done your research?
Don’t leave anything up to chance – do your research so you know exactly what course you’re applying for and what it will be like studying.
Find out what subjects you will study in the course and what the course focuses on. If it helps, get in touch with the university and chat to a lecturer to ask questions. Talk about the course with career advisors or professionals in your chosen field and see if they think it will be helpful to you in your future career.
Establish how many contact hours the course includes and what the expectations are for study. Is it a high intensity course with long hours, or a course with minimal hours and lots of independent study? Consider how you will enjoy this style of learning and if it will fit into your lifestyle.
How will you manage the costs?
Investing in further study is an expense that pays off in the long term. In the short term however, you will need cover the costs if you’re working fewer hours, as well as pay for course materials and tuition fees. Before starting a course, it’s crucial to plan your finances with a detailed budget for living and study.
Find out the costs involved and then look into the financial support that’s available to you. Options for support include:
Government loans Look into HECS-HELP for Commonwealth Supported Places (CSPs) or FEE-HELP for fee-paying places.
Employer assistance If the study relates to your current job, ask your employer if they offer financial support for study, or study leave.
Scholarships Universities and the government offer scholarships across many categories.
Government financial assistance Find out if you’re eligible for Austudy or Youth Allowance.
Find out more about managing the costs of university.
How will you manage your time?
Juggling work and life is tricky – adding study to the mix can frazzle the most organised person. Universities today offer heaps of flexible study options. Check to see if your course offers night classes, or the option to study part time or online. Work out how you will fit study in week-by-week by creating a draft schedule, including the course ‘contact’ hours, plus time to study independently.
Talk to your workplace about the flexibility they can offer. Is it possible to work four days a week while you study, for example? Can you take a week off each trimester for exams? If study will ultimately make you a more valuable employee, they may be keen to support you.
Finally, check out where you stand in terms of credit for prior learning or work experience. If you apply, you might be credited for some units of study. This will mean you can complete the course faster. Find out how the credit application process works, as it may be additional to your application for the course.
What will your pathway to uni be?
Getting into a course can seem daunting from the outside – do you have the right marks, have you done the prerequisites? But in fact, universities offer many ways to get into your dream course. Start by going to the course page and checking the course application requirements. If you’re confident you have them covered, then great! If you’re not sure, start by getting in touch with the university to ask about your unique situation.
If you do not meet the course requirements, don’t despair – there are alternative routes for getting into the course you’re interested in. It might mean starting in a related course that you do qualify for, and then transferring, for example. Whether you have finished Year 12 and missed out on a university place, are in the workforce or studying elsewhere, there will be a pathway to suit your needs.
There are many benefits of returning to study. If you want to increase your capacity for earning for example, Australian university graduates command higher salaries than high school graduates. Study may open doors in your current career that were previously closed because of a skills gap. For many students, the value is in being able to dramatically shift their career direction through study, and land a job in an area they are really passionate about.
If you’re ready to chat about returning to study, get in touch with Deakin and we can guide you through the process.
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