It’s Never Too Late To Go Back To School

old school homerWow, 12 months without a blog post! Let’s fix that right now.

People who follow my blog (you’re still there right? I’m not just talking to myself?) can probably remember me talking about starting a distance learning course in Astronomy a couple of years ago. Well, I’ve almost completed my second year of modules. My current pace of 2 modules per year means I can study whilst working and it doesn’t take up too much of my spare time. I plan on completing the full BSc, which at 18 modules, will take me 9 years to complete! I can of course take more or less modules per year, but that is really dictated by my circumstances (and finances) at that time.

The point of this post is however to say simply:

Don’t just regret not having studied something you love now that you’re not a teenager any more. Knowledge is power, so keep topping it up!

I regretted not studying some form of physics or astrophysics at university. My physics teacher put me off. He thought it was far too ambitious, and he was probably right. Looking back, I don’t think I was mature enough to dedicate myself to structured study.

I’ve very much taught myself to code and got jobs that took advantage of these skills. Now, 10 years after leaving school, I’ve got some great experience in customer service, business, software development and work in general. So I’m comfortably employed, and reminiscing on my past passions (SPACE!) and thinking what if I could go back and start again? Is that really a good idea? Could I go against what my physics teacher told me and apply to study astronomy or something related? Would I have just thrown it away? Maybe.

But what if I could return to study in my spare time on a part time basis? Keeping the skills I have now, and learning new ones allowing me to take the next 5-10 years to steer my career back towards a path I dreamed about as a school boy? It turns out, there were lots of options for me and I took the opportunity to study with UCLan on their distance learning course and I’m very happy for having done so.

I think lots of people give up on their dreams after going into employment and just become comfortable. My wife Sarah has seen the change in me by returning to study my passion and has been infected by my renewed enthusiam. So much so, that she will be starting a course at Keele in our local area to study something very close to both our hearts – sustainability and the environment. I can see the impact it has had on her already. After years of working in admin roles and content writing jobs (including some senior roles), it’s great to see her applying her talent to something bigger. I just know the future will be brighter for her for doing so.

Looking at education in general now, the landscape is crammed with options. Loads of universities are offering distance learning as an option these days including part-time short courses all the way to up to Bachelor’s and post-graduate degrees. By applying as a mature student, depending on your background, your school/college grades are less of a concern than if you were to apply in your teens – so don’t let that put you off from applying. There are always foundation routes to consider too if you really feel unqualified to start a course.

The Open University is a great place to start looking if you’re not sure what to study. If you can set aside some cash to study, a university course might be a great way to change careers or bring new skills into your current role in employment. But if you don’t want to spend money, there are still some great options. The Khan academy allows you study everything from maths to computer science topics at your own pace, or for something a little more structured (with the opportunity to gain certificates) you can study with edX or Coursera who offer courses from universities all over the world. These courses often last about 8 to 12 weeks and have specific targets you aim to complete each week.

In the internet era, education is available more widely than ever before, so there is no excuse to feel stuck in a rut. Get out and study what you’ve always wanted to and push your life in the direction your heart yearns for.

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