Returning to education after an extended break

When I was at school, there was a general consensus that education was something you did when you were young. After school, you’d go to college or sixth form and then university. Masters or PhD-level study was hardly ever mentioned but if that’s what you were interested in, you’d do that straight from your undergraduate and then join the job market, like everyone else. I bought into this, believing that different levels of education were just the hoops you had to jump through to get a job. I followed the plan; after graduating in 2010, I found full time work and started to carve out a career in supplementary education but after five years, I wasn’t enjoying it and wanted a new direction.

I never expected that I’d be back at university, a few months away from turning thirty. It’s a totally different experience this time around; I don’t live in halls for a start! I barely drink, can’t remember the last time I had a night out and I like to be in bed for 9pm. My 21-year old self would be so disappointed!

I’m also considerably more motivated. When I left home to complete my undergraduate degree, I was doing it largely for that reason; to leave home. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, university offers incredible experiences at any age, however for me, it’s a very different experience being totally engaged in the subject matter and wanting to actively learn more. The time away has allowed me to find a subject I’m passionate about, which has made all the difference to my study habits and engagement with the course.

The most difficult thing has been managing the financial side. After paying your tuition fees, the Postgraduate Loan doesn’t leave you with much and it’s especially difficult having been in full time employment for nearly nine years. My partner is also completing his Masters this year so we’ve gone from having plenty of disposable income to having to think about every purchase we make. However, as someone who has never been careful with money, it’s really forced me into reconsidering everything I buy which is definitely a positive I will be taking forward into post-student life!

I started looking for a part time job as soon as I was accepted onto the course but I really struggled to find anything that wasn’t full time. Although I attend university in the evenings, I wanted to allow myself time to properly concentrate on the Masters and make the best of it so wanted to rule out working so many hours. Ideally, I also wanted to find something which would complement my future career plans. In just over two months, the number of jobs I applied for was around the three-figure mark and for the most part, I heard nothing back, which became really disheartening. Finally, on Friday, I secured the job of my dreams!

Even though I only started in January, I think being enrolled on the Masters course supported my application enormously. It showed my future employer that I’m keen to learn and also allowed me to talk about educational issues in a confident and informed manner. The organisation have also suggested they may be able to support me with PhD study.

I’m really glad I chose Hope. I moved to Liverpool for my undergraduate and have never fallen out of love with the city so it’s great to be back! The staff have been excellent and I love the educational freedom Masters level study allows you.

I’d recommend postgraduate study to anyone. Education isn’t just something you do when you’re young, learning is life-long.

By Charlotte Adams.

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