Thinking about going back to university? It's not too late!
I’m a firm believer that there’s no right or wrong time to go to University, but that it varies from person to person. Whilst your average 18 year old, fresh out of school with some good grades, might never have considered any other options, there are a whole host of other things you can do first. You could get a job or apprenticeship, you could take a gap year (or five), or you could just shelf the idea indefinitely.
I went to a really good school – I did my GCSEs and A Levels there, and I came out with top grades. You see, it was the kind of school where it was unimaginable that you wouldn’t head off for further education and so whilst I was never a conformist, I was under the impression that it’s just what intelligent people have to do. I wasn’t unique. I’d estimate that as many as 95% of my peers went off to uni to do some kind of course, perhaps even more. I feel that it’s great when it works out, but for some of us, it’s the wrong course, the wrong time – or simply, the wrong choice entirely.
I took a gap year because I’ve always felt a little stifled and I love my independence. I couldn’t imagine dedicating the kind of attention to university that I imagined it required just yet, and so I worked at HMV and then went off to work at a Summer Camp in America and travel around the USA. When I returned, I went to the University of Leeds, after turning down my place at the University of Glasgow. I’d changed my mind, because something didn’t sit right with me about the decision. I’m fairly indecisive, so I wrote it off. Perhaps I should have just considered the possibility that I just wasn’t ready. By Christmas, I’d given up my place at Leeds, too – I was officially a dropout.
People said I’d never go back and finish my education, but I knew I would. I was determined. I didn’t really know when, but I thought my course wasn’t right for me, and that whilst I loved Leeds (and still do), I didn’t really want to be an Undergrad student there. I applied to the University of Liverpool to do a different course, and whilst they initially only accepted me for a similar course to the one I had left, I used my ‘way with words’ to convince them otherwise. The rest is history, and I have no regrets.
If you dropped out of a course, or things didn’t go too well for you during a previous university experience, that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t work for you in the future. Trust your instincts, but don’t ever let the past give you barriers to achievement. Conversely, if you decided to get a job and you’re looking back several years later and ‘wishing’ you had gone, it’s not too late! There are plenty of routes to a degree, you’re never too old for student accommodation, and there are lots of funding types available.
Perhaps you finished your degree and want to do more? Why not! I think when I’m 30 I might retrain as a teacher, but I also love my current career… and I kind of want to do a Masters in Music Business, having gained some experience and taken some short courses since graduating. Who knows what I’ll do? I’m keeping my options open. There are loads of Masters programs, PHDs and other types of courses available, whether you want to develop in your current field, or even learn something new.
I think that’s the point. We never stop learning in life, so why should we assume that the doors of education are closed to us? Whether you’re 22, 30, or even 45 and over, it’s never too late to come back for higher education, or to revisit it again and again and again!
It’s that time of year where new students are starting in abundance – and if you really want to, you can be one of them! Or, at the very least, you can set the wheels in motion for your future development and/or career for the next academic year.