Young at Heart: First step is the most difficult

YEARS ago with great trepidation and little confidence, I returned to study.

My plan was to upgrade from a two-year course to a four-year degree. This was to take me on a seven-year journey of discovery.

Everyone around me appeared so super confident and self assured. I was a mother with four young children, a busy husband. How could I even contemplate returning to studies? 

It was such a terrifying moment for me that I came very close to simply turning back to the car park.

What excuse would I give if I failed subjects? More horror! I was hoping to be an example to my children, my daughters in particular, to show that they too could have both a career and a family. 

Very early on this journey, a lecturer gave me some wise words of advice which I have never forgotten. “You will pass because you have your life in the right order. Your family comes first, your work second and your studies last. Keep it like this and you will survive these difficult years.” 

Remember those words, you mature-age students!

At the time I was despairing of ever finishing what seemed endless years of study ahead.

Studying and working full time were challenging years. A very supportive husband and children helped, which was not always the case with friends who were studying at the same time. 

One said to me, “It is nothing for me to have the dinner I’ve cooked tipped all over my essay.” She left him eventually, treasuring the independence it brought her.

The lecturer was totally accurate with his prediction. I eventually did complete that elusive degree, my husband and children were there to see me graduate, but more importantly my family survived intact... and I returned to the workforce for many years in a satisfying and enduring career.

It was a very good lesson for our children. They were all determined when they left home to ensure that no matter the course they chose, they would do everything required to be fully qualified. This is just as relevant for university graduates as apprentices connected to technical colleges.

Work and jobs have become tougher since then. All my children and their partners have been required to do further studies, and there appears to be an endless demand on their time and energies which can see them working late into the night.

Whether it is TAFE, continuing education or university today, studying itself is a very different world. 

University degrees no longer mean leaving the family for a weekend to travel hundreds of kilometres for a weekend of tutorials. 
The Open University offers an amazing lifeline to all of us.  These distance learning courses successfully match the needs of students like me. 

Now I could complete my entire chosen course in the comfort and security of my own home. Try it for size. It may well fit your needs if you are looking to return to study. Today the world comes to you.

At a secondary level, the virtual classroom plays a serious role. Students linked up with Bendigo Senior Secondary College can do certain subjects for their VCE from home, wherever that is. Imagine the opportunities this offers to students on outback farming properties, for example, or small outback and regional schools, someone who is ill, or perhaps a single mother. Late bloomers have another shot at completing Year 12. How rewarding must that be?

Remember, the first step is the hardest... enrolment. Hold close to you those words of my lecturer all those years ago.

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