It would be rude and unrealistic of us to pretend that the thought of going to back to university as an adult is not frightening… It is.
Perhaps more frightening still is the thought of completing a degree online. Before taking the plunge and enrolling, our students tell us about all of the fears that race through their minds. There’s the fear of not fitting in, the fear of neglecting the kids, the fear it will be too expensive, the fear that it won’t be worth the time…
We’ve heard them all, and here’s the thing – they’re valid. This is important to hear if you’re considering hitting the books again. Rather than sugarcoat it, we want you to understand all the pros and the cons.
Being a university student later in life is hard. However, there will be beautiful moments you should definitely not be afraid of. There will be times you submit an assignment after a hellish week and descend into tears of joy. There will be times you stop and realise how heart-burstlingly proud of yourself you are. You will build stamina, and willpower. Your self-worth will skyrocket, as will your worth in the marketplace. You will grow. You will change. You will survive, and you will conquer.
So here you are at step one. Do any of these fears hit home?
So you’ve got no time? Welcome to the 21st Century! With everything you’ve got going on now, finding spare time to spend on study might seem impossible. We know that balancing work and play with assignment deadlines is no easy feat. While it won’t be a cake walk, online study saves you hours of travel time and puts you in control of your timetable (rather than your lecturer).
Put simply, you will need to be organised. Over half a million of our students have overcome the challenge with some simple techniques and a whole lot of determination. One of those techniques is to set a date with yourself and your textbooks, and protect it like you would any other important date. You’ll need 10-12 hours per week for each subject. Protect and honour your study time, and you will achieve two things; firstly, you’ll get stuff done. Secondly, when your date is over you won’t waste your free time worrying about study. Enjoying your time off is important.
Many students have concerns about fitting in at university. Those who return to university for a postgraduate degree or a change of direction probably feel that even more so. Perhaps they feel too old, too tired, or too out of touch. What you should realise is that returning to university later in life isn’t a novel thing anymore. For example, nearly 70% of students here at Open Universities Australia (OUA) are over the age of 30.
Rather than fret about conversing with millennials, appreciate the strengths you wouldn’t have had at 18. It’s likely that your stamina has increased, your focus and maturity have developed, your management and organisation skills are established and your attitude may even be better! Trust us, you’ll fit in just fine.
While there’s no sugar-coating the fact that university is expensive, there are ways of combatting the effects. You could consider online university as a way of trimming the fat from your study experience. Rather than spend money on transport, parking, babysitters and other hidden costs, you can get away with paying only for the essentials. A laptop, internet connection and textbooks are typically the only investments required. Perhaps some scented highlighters wouldn’t go astray either.
When it comes to fees, government loan schemes are available. For example, here at OUA you can access Commonwealth Supported Places, HECS and FEE-HELP to pay for your studies up front, and repay the loan later.
Some new students have concerns that a degree studied online won’t be taken seriously by future employers. While that may have been true 20 years ago, now nothing could be further from the truth. All of Australia’s leading universities are moving their courses online. If you study with one of them through OUA you will graduate with the exact same degree as your on-campus counterparts.
On top of all that, OUA students have the benefit of picking up practical skills along the way that will give them an edge in the new global economy. Studying remotely, picking up online communication skills, completing assignments with students all over the world, and networking with students already in the workforce are all benefits of online study.
‘Will I be all alone?’ is a frequently asked question of our Student Advisors. The energy and excitement you experience when attending campus is a magical feeling. If you’ve experienced it before, we know it is irreplaceable. But just because you can’t make it to a campus anymore doesn’t mean that you’ll be left out in the cold.
When you start your course you’ll meet hundreds of fellow students, logging in to forums from all over the world. You’ll find people just like you, and people who are completely different, all ready to share in this unique experience with you. You’re sure to forge friendships which will last a lifetime.
We try very hard to make sure OUA students never feel alone by providing a variety of additional services. For example there’s 24/7 online tutoring, so if you’re stuck at 3am with a question (or caught out in another time zone) there’s an academic to talk to whenever you need them. We’ve also got a team of Student Coaches on call to help you with practical matters such as time management, and our Student Advisors will help you with planning your enrolment.
So there you have it. Online study, laid out in all its glory. We hope that this has helped you make a decision about whether it is for you. If you’d like to grill us some more on the pros and cons of going back to uni, feel free to leave us a comment below.
Image by Rosan Harmens (https://unsplash.com/@rooszan)