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Returning to study as a mature aged-student

By Rosa Ritchie | 13 April 2018

Just like with any major life decision, when we worry about something we can build it up to be a bigger issue than it really is. This is often the case for adults considering study as mature age students. But did you know you don’t have to jump through a million hoops to become a mature age student? Once you make the decision to do a course of study it’s often incredibly quick and painless to sign up and begin. That being said, coming to the conclusion that it’s something you want to do isn’t always easy. There’s all sorts of stuff to weigh up, namely: money, time and motivation. It’s not a choice that should be a snap decision. But let’s talk about the reasons studying as a mature age student is a great option, and how it works. 

What is a mature age student?

The definition of a mature age student varies between institutions. Some classify it as a student who is over the age of 21, others define it more broadly as a prospective student who is not a current school leaver (ie they are not fresh out of high school, and they may or may not have completed Year 12.) Depending on your level of education and what you would like to study as a mature age student, you may have to complete a preparatory course, or you may be able to dive straight in. The VTAC (Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre) has assembled this handy series of interviews with mature age students, where they share their experiences trying to choose a course, as well as challenges they faced during study. 

Why study now?

Many school leavers aren’t ready to commit to further study. It’s hard to pick what to study when you’ve never been in the workforce, and a lot of people need time to blow off steam after high school. This is why mature age students have a higher capacity to concentrate on their studies, and focus their learning toward their career aspirations. 

mature aged student studying

Study can be good for you

We’ve written before about how study benefits your whole life, not just your career trajectory.

Like keeping your body fit, your brain benefits from a workout as well. More than that, the skills that you learn in an academic context will improve your insight and problem solving in professional and personal situations. Put simply, everyone benefits from further education! 

Why study with Upskilled?

As a mature age student your life is likely full of responsibilities already. You might have a mortgage, maybe kids, and a whole list of expenses associated with upholding these responsibilities. The benefit of studying online is that it is self-directed. You can sit down to do work at your own pace, anywhere, anytime.  We have over 300 courses to choose from, and you can contact us any time. There’s no such thing as a silly question.  

Can I get funding?

Have you heard about the good ‘F Word’? Funding! There are heaps of degree pathways available to you, and it’s difficult to stay up-to-date with all the latest government funding initiatives. That’s why we’ve done the hard yards for you! Here at Upskilled we’ve researched what help is available and who is eligible -  check it out.  

What degree pathways exist?

At Upskilled many of our courses have no formal prerequisites. This means that if you have come to the decision that you want to study, for example, a Certificate IV in Leadership and Management (BSB42015) it’s all yours if you put in the hard yards. 

senior male business man with woman client

How to keep up with innovation

Often people choose to study not because they don’t have skills already, but because they want to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in their field. Perhaps you run a business and you want to learn how to manage implementing progress, or in other words, see it continue to blossom. You understand that in an evolving industry, systems and operations need to change in order to keep up with progress, but you don’t know how to encourage your team to participate in that process. There’s a short course for that, as well as qualifications like our Diploma of Leadership and Management (BSB51918). 

Can I get recognition of prior learning or work experience?

Some people are pushed toward undertaking a qualification as a mature age student because even though they have a wealth of experience, less experienced candidates with formal qualifications are scoring the jobs. This can really sting. But the good news is all your hard-earned experience and knowledge can count towards a formal qualification. This means that it may take you less time to bag that degree or certification than other students, because you can get course credit for your prior knowledge. Read more about recognition of prior learning here

While recognition of work experience is usually much more difficult to get, there are times that this is certainly taken into account and can help reduce the number of units you have to complete in your course. Generally, you need to be able to produce some hard evidence to display competency – for example you could show evidence by currently holding a role at a certain level, from which you can provide evidence of your experience. In some cases, trainer assessment can also reduce your units of study. 

senior male worker on his laptop

Online study is great for mature aged students

Upskilled understands that most students have a million other responsibilities to juggle outside of their course requirements. That’s why we believe it’s so important to offer the flexibility provided by studying online, and to allow students to progress at your own pace. What we also understand is that outside of those responsibilities as a co-worker, or a parent, or a spouse, you are a talented individual capable of broadening your skillset and your horizons. 

Now more than ever there’s no reason to feel stuck in the same box you’ve always been. With a bit of planning (budgeting your time and your money) and a fair bit of hard work (even at your own pace, the work needs to be done at some point) you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve.

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