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For many people, studying is about linear career progression, especially if you’re returning to university. It’s about taking the next step in your career – upskilling in technical, hands-on experience or broadening your knowledge base to facilitate a promotion. But what if you’re inspired to learn more, not just by your career choices, but by your love of learning?
The creative arts are an area where career ambition isn’t what drives everyone. Sure, many people have dreams of becoming a famous author, photographer or actor, but they understand studying a creative discipline won’t always lead to a full-time career. Instead, what motivates these folks is pure enjoyment of their discipline and a passion for lifelong learning.
‘We see a lot of people come into creative writing, in particular, because it’s always been one of those things they’re interested in, but it’s been a hobby so the return to study becomes an opportunity to build skills that they haven’t already got,’ says Dr Kristine Moruzi, course director of the Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) at Deakin.
Want to follow your passion by going back to uni but never been brave enough to take the plunge? Then this one’s for you.
Penny Reeve – who also writes as Penny Jaye – is an award-winning author of more than 20 children’s books who’s studying a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) at Deakin. She did a teaching degree after finishing high school but says despite her success as an author, going back to uni to study creative writing is something she’s always wanted to do.
‘I’ve been trying to get published and writing for publication for almost 20 years now, and I’ve had some success within a limited niche,’ she says. ‘I remember when I was in high school, I really wanted to study creative writing, but I didn’t think it was going to make me any money.
‘But it was always in the back of my mind because I wanted to learn more and I wanted to be stretched out of my comfort zone.’
It’s this respect for lifelong learning and desire to be challenged that Dr Moruzi says draws people from a wide range of professional backgrounds back to uni to study creative arts.
‘We’ve got a fair number of students who have successful careers in disciplines like engineering and accounting,’ she says. ‘This is something they’re picking up on the side through creative hobbies. It’s an opportunity to develop a skillset that maybe they don’t have or perhaps they don’t have the opportunity to take up in their everyday life. It allows them to tell the story, write the poem or write the script they’ve always wanted to.’
'It's an opportunity to develop a skillset that maybe they don't have or perhaps they don't have the opportunity to take up in their everyday life.'
Dr Kristine Moruzi,
School of Communication and Creative Arts, Deakin University
Studying without the pressure of knowing you’ll need to find a job or start a new career after graduation is a very different experience to the traditional route. Penny says focusing on personal growth rather than career advancement has allowed her to really enjoy every aspect of the course – and given her a fresh perspective on life as an author.
‘I do all the readings – all the recommended readings as well as all the suggested readings – to get as much as I can out of the experience,’ she says. ‘It’s really challenged me to think beyond my own little desk, and also to see the power and positive influence that children’s literature can have.
‘I know it isn’t necessarily going to result in a job, but I consider the experience really valuable in terms of what I wanted to achieve creatively and how I wanted to grow as a person.’
So how do you know if you’re ready to go back to university to follow your passion? Penny says it’s important to think seriously about what you want to learn and how you want to grow as a person – and, practically speaking, whether you have enough time in your life.
‘When it comes to the creative arts, if you really want to grow and really want to learn and you’ve got space in your life, give it a shot,’ she says. ‘Fitting this into my life is really difficult at times, so I would advise weighing up the time aspect before you make a decision.’
Dr Moruzi agrees, explaining that it’s possible to start with a shorter course and extend if things are going well, or begin with a longer course and exit early if it all becomes a bit much. ‘You can still get a credential even if it turns out to not be quite what you were anticipating,’ she says. ‘So don’t be scared – have a go.’
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