What to consider if you’re returning to education

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Whether you’ve been out of education for just a few months, or for more years than you care to remember, it’s never too late to return and pursue further study. It might be for personal fulfillment, professional promotion or intellectual curiosity, there are programmes out there suited to you. 

Returning to Education: Cost

One of the first elements you should examine when considering returning to study is the financial supports that may exist to support you. Students Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), the Back to Education Allowance and other supports may apply to you so make sure you get in touch with SUSI or the Department of Social Protection to see what you may be eligible for.  If you’re returning to education after a considerable length of time, you will likely be balancing your further study with other life and work commitments. The last thing you want to be worrying about is extra financial burdens, especially if it’s not necessary.

Do your homework

If you are returning to study while working or if you’re looking at a postgraduate course in order to change career path, make sure you do your research into the particular course you’re looking to study. You need to find out what the exact benefits and relevance of it would be in terms of your overall objectives. If you feel that you’ve been stuck in the proverbial ‘rut’ in your career, then a well-chosen postgraduate conversion course could be the perfect solution. Having likely already completed an undergraduate degree, you will have the motivation and aptitude for study. You just need to tap back into it. Accentuate the positives, both in terms of development and in terms of the hard and soft skills you will acquire and you’ll see that a return to education could be right for you.

Reach out for help

However, you’ll need to do some homework first in order to make the most of it. Talk to those within the area in which you want to work. Ask them what the most common courses were that people working in that area studied. Is there a particular institution that seems to have a prevalence of courses and alumni that are still practising in that profession? If you’re seeking to study while still working you are less likely to be eligible for financial supports, so you want to make sure you are making the right choice. There will also be financial outlay and you want to make sure you’re making the wisest  investment. Remember, even if some courses have the same or very similar course titles, they will almost certainly have very different modules and study plans. Make sure to consider each course and do your research thoroughly.

If you’re returning to education after a protracted period of time, for example after raising children, this can come with its own challenges. Once again, take the time to consider the pace at which you wish to return to education, bearing in mind your own personal reasons.

Stay motivated

In terms of completing studies, for many students in this bracket, it’s more likely that financial or time pressures will act as the biggest impediment. Students seeking to return to education often have a high degree of intrinsic motivation and it is incumbent on the institutions to support and tailor their programmes to maximise this, while providing any available supports.

If you are seeking to return to study, remember there are also social benefits in addition to the academic and professional benefits. College is a great place for meeting people, both likeminded people and those from a diverse range of backgrounds. It’s great for both social networking and building a professional contact book to possibly assist you in whatever it is you want to do in your career after your studies.


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