Too old to return to study? Or, too old not to?

The hardest thing I found about coming back to study my Bachelor of Education (Primary) at the ripe old age of 35 was the lifestyle sacrifice. I had a steady income, a great social life, lovely things, and most of all, admiration from family and friends … albeit superficial.

What I didn’t have was fulfilment. I could have played out the rest of my life travelling down the same professional path, trying various hobbies and experiences to satisfy that niggling, unrecognisable desire, but I knew it wouldn’t be right … for me.

Then I realised that I wouldn’t be making sacrifices, I would be making changes. Yes, my income isn’t anywhere near what it used to be, but that’s only momentary. I’m working my way towards a career that will bring me greater fulfilment, greater joy, and even greater opportunities for professional growth.

Uni social life is amazing, and there’s more of us “oldies” than you realise.

Head Shot MontageI live and spend quality time with my elderly parents, something that I NEVER thought I would be able to do.

I am constantly being challenged by each unit I study, and there’s free, accessible study support for me everywhere I turn.

And most of all, I feel brave. Brave that I stared that change right in the face, put one foot in front of the other and took the leap toward a life that will bring me greater happiness.

If you’re thinking about returning to Uni as a mature-aged student, there’s always going to be reasons why it will be difficult. But trust me when I say, once you take a deep breath and make that change, you will be infinitely happier for it.

And remember, don’t mistake habit for happiness. Just because you know your life as it is now, doesn’t make it the best life you can live.

4 responses

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    You’re never too old to return to school or even learn something new. I just graduated last year at the age of 24, but even though that’s still considered young I graduated with several people who were over the ages of 50 and even a few that were in there 60s. They graduated with bachelors degrees in studies that include criminal justice, police science, social work, fire prevention, nursing, and even teaching. Yes you might have to put your lifestyle on hold for a bit, but at the same time you’re doing something to better yourself. Who knows you might find out you like something that you never liked before. The best things in life never come easy they only come after hard work and perseverance. Shoot I’m a volunteer fireman and we were taught during training that if you’re not learning something new everyday even if its something small then you’re close minded and you can miss out on a lot of great things in life by being that way or can even miss out on something that will change your life in a good way. So my thought on the subject is if you love and respect yourself than its ok to put your lifestyle on hold temporarily and do something to better yourself versus sitting around and wondering if you could do it go out and do it. Who knows by you going back to school you could inspire some of your family, friends, or even coworkers to return to school and better themselves too. If that happens then you’re not only changing your life for the better, but you could give someone else the inspiration to change their life for the better too.

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    Jonathan OJ Owens

    Thanks for your story. Am a 35 year old Papua New Guinean and I would like to do my Masters next year or in 2017.

    My greatest challenge is trying to find out if the Uni will accept me.

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    i started uni last year as a 34 year old embarking on any form of tertiary education for the first time. i left school in 1996 after completing year 10 and always thought uni was out of my reach. it’s been a lot of hard work but i’m now 1/2 way through my degree (bachelor of infotech) and am even looking at doing my masters – something completely unfathomable to me.

    to anyone considering it – go for it. you won’t be the only mature aged student in the uni. there is plenty of resource available and if i can do it with 2 kids – including one with special needs – you can too. just don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

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    Like the other commenter above (Ben), I left high school to proceed directly to the workforce in ’98.

    While i’ve had moderated levels of success in varied roles/industries, i’ve always ended up against a glass ceiling due to the fact that tertiary study is required to progress any career eventually if you are competing against better qualified candidates.

    After 15+ years of progressing and moving around to try to move up, i’ve finally bit the bullet and applied to QUT. Time to head back to school. I hope I can make both study/regular life work – at least i’m determined to try!

    Still waiting on my STAT results, and time will tell I guess… fingers crossed.

    I’d love to see more about mature age student experiences on the blog as there isn’t a lot of info out there for us and knowing other people in my position are making it work, sharing their difficulties and positive experiences make the journey easier – nice to know there is someone else walking the same path.

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