Typically, when we think of university study, our minds go to eighteen-year-olds fresh out of sixth form.
However, university education is suitable for anyone with ambition, goals, and a vision to achieve them – at any age, from all walks of life. And despite the stereotypical straight-out-of-school university student most expect, mature students make up 37% of undergraduate intake and 50% of postgraduate intake.
There are many reasons you might have chosen to end your academic career when you did – whether it was a professional opportunity you just couldn’t pass up, a drive to start earning, or the choice to start a family which prohibited the traditional university setting from fitting in with your new lifestyle. Perhaps you even took a gap year with the intention of returning, but the magic of travel had you staying away longer than you intended to.
The demands of your busy schedule can leave your educational ambitions feeling out of your reach. But with online learning, you can study on a schedule that suits your other commitments. At ARU, we offer a range of courses whatever your current education level. From foundation degrees such as our Early Years and Education FdA, to postgraduate programmes like our Data Science MSc, we’ll be able to match you with the perfect course for your interests, ambitions, and current level of education.
If you’re on the fence about venturing back into the world of learning, there here are five of the top reasons students choose to return.
1. Career Progression
Career Progression is the ongoing process of self-improvement, learning, and advancement in your career in order to develop the skills needed, and seize the opportunities available, to achieve your goals.
The desire to climb the career ladder doesn’t come naturally to everyone. While some have the drive to advance, others struggle to leave behind the sense of security that their current position gives them. And while there’s comfort in the familiar, it can lack fulfilment and leave us wanting more.
One of the many numerous benefits to career progression is, of course, greater financial security as you progress to management positions. While money isn’t everything, a higher income will give you greater financial freedom and help to alleviate some of the common stresses that everyday life brings.
However, there are other, less tangible benefits, that accompany career progression. When you seek to advance your career, you’ll come up against a variety of new challenges in the workplace, from the responsibility of managing others, to playing a greater role in the planning of projects. When you’re challenged in the workplace, and have the opportunity to learn and grow, you’ll be much more likely to feel engaged in your work. This engagement will greatly boost your job satisfaction, which is crucial to your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Of course, if your current qualifications have taken you as far as you can go in your career, developing your skills in the management arena could be the next step up the ladder. Management courses, such as our Master of Business Administration (MBA), are designed to teach you how to be a good leader, and give you a grounding in the theoretical and practical elements involved in leadership roles.
Furthering your education can also aid you when changing careers as well, as growing your qualifications will set you apart from other applicants and demonstrate your commitment and drive to achieve.
2. Networking Opportunities
While LinkedIn has taken networking to new heights, allowing you to connect with others in your industry all over the world, there’s something to be said for fostering those traditional networking opportunities when the arise.
University is the perfect place for making these connections. When undertaking your studies, you’ll build up relationships with your tutors, as well as peers on your course who will likely also go on to work in your field. Building strong connection with others in your industry early on can benefit you further down your career path. The networks that you foster can also help you if you wish to change jobs in the future. The people you meet on your course with ambitions in your industry could be your future foot in the door to you dream role – sometimes it's who you know just as much as what you know.
While you’d be forgiven for assuming that networking opportunities are only accessible in a traditional university setting, this isn’t the case. Despite the remote nature of online learning, our distance learning courses offer students the means for connecting with their peers and tutors. And, with the use of a system such as Canvas, you’ll boost your communication skills, aiding the advancement of your virtual interaction abilities.
3. Greater Independence
Buy returning to education, you have the chance to take a greater control over your life and open up more choices than you would have had before. With a skillset that broadens your career opportunities, you’ll have the independence to define your future trajectory.
Not only does distance learning offer you the independence to be your own person, but it lets you study independently too. This independence enables you to learn around your family and career commitments and gives you full control in your learning. Of course, just because you’ve chosen online learning, it doesn’t mean that you won’t receive the support you need to succeed. At ARU, we provide you with access to a strong support network of tutors, peers, and employability services to ensure that you receive all the guidance you need to thrive.
4. Improved Self-Esteem
Returning to education can do wonders for your self-esteem and confidence. You’ll have the opportunity to discover talents you never knew you had or pursue a passion that you’ve always dreamt of. When you expand your skills through higher education, you’ll see a huge impact to yourself esteem, giving you the confidence to face whatever lies ahead in both your career and everyday life.
Return to education can be daunting after a break. But returning to university will give you a strong sense of empowerment and direction, and boost your self-esteem as you explore new ideas and challenges through your course.
A healthy self-image and high self-esteem are key to improving your mental wellbeing and working on yourself by advancing your skills and education is an excellent way to boost this. When you interact in an intellectually stimulating environments, you’ll work towards protecting your future health. Intellectual stimulation can be a great way to keep your mind sharp as you get older, possibly allowing for a better memory and cognitive health.
You don’t know what you’re capable of until you try. And though those first steps on your journey to a new qualification may present a learning curve, successful completion of your degree course or qualification will give a huge boost to your confidence and self-esteem, propelling you to heights that you didn’t think possible for yourself, such as progressing into a management position or even starting up your own business.
5. A Love of Knowledge
Aside from the many practical reasons for returning to education, some students choose to further their learning for nothing more than the love of knowledge; the things you learn throughout your studies is something that no one can take from you. You’ll acquire the ability to speak with authority on your subject of interest, to research it further, and contribute to the understanding of your field.
Returning to education doesn’t just need to be about advancing your career in order to reach management positions. You can choose to complete higher education qualifications, such as Education MA, in order to take the next step towards PhD study and research. This will allow you to develop a firmer understanding of theory and provide you with a greater chance to contribute to the direction of the field.
When you complete a qualification in an area of study that interests you, you’ll contribute to renewed enrichment and excitement in your life. Taking the time to study means taking time for yourself, something that you might have neglected among your other responsibilities.
Your love of learning might have been dampened by your school environment – not every pupil loves every subject. However, when you return to education, you’ll have the chance to pursue your true passion and build the foundation for a career you truly love. And, at Anglia Ruskin University, the majority of our degree programmes and qualifications end with a major project, meaning that you’ll have the chance to deep dive into a specific area of interest in your subject.
Returning to university is a big decision. But when you choose distance learning, you’ll have the freedom to study at your own pace and on your own schedule, putting the qualification you need to achieve your dreams in reach. Check out the wide range of courses we have on offer and take the first steps towards your new future.
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