Did you know what there are in the region of 140 universities in the UK? They offer an endless variety of courses from business studies, leadership and entrepreneurship to languages and classical studies. Technical changes have been transforming the higher education sector. Universities offer courses not only face-to-face but in online and blended formats. If you are thinking about returning to academic study, you can literally study from the comfort of your own home. The opportunities are boundless.
In the following article, I have selected for you some practical guidance to help you return to studying.
You may have been thinking for a while about returning to study and you may wonder if it is the right choice for you. Spending some time researching courses will help you to be more clear about what you want. Finding the right course is like putting together a puzzle. To start with, you will need to explore the followings:
- your preferred university
- the course to study
- the level (under or postgraduate)
- mode of studying
- admissions criteria
In the traditional face-to-face classroom environment, you are able to create professional relationships, ask questions any time, share insights, work in groups and collaborate with your peers. However, it could be challenging (and often time-consuming) for you to travel to a physical venue.
Online learning environments offer you full flexibility because you will be able to study when it suits you. The best online courses offer platforms for discussions and sharing ideas, however, developing long-lasting professional bonds can be a challenge. Blended environments combine the two approaches. You would be able to take part in study days and meet your peers and lecturers face-to-face. You would also receive access to an online platform which would provide you with all the learning materials.
The more you are able to research, the more likely you will be to find the right course. You could investigate reviews and rankings of your preferred university. You could talk to friends and colleagues who have recently completed academic study and ask for their recommendations. Some universities will allow you to have a conversation with their alumni and find out about their experiences. You might want to talk to an admissions representative to clarify any questions around admissions criteria.
For many people, studying is similar to making a form of investment. Before embarking on a new course, it is wise to think about what you will gain from your education and also what you need to put in. You might be prompted to study in order to further develop your professional skills or receive a promotion. You might be worried about losing your job as a result of current economic challenges. You might want to change your career direction and feel that this is now the best time to dig deeper into your new field. And you may be interested in studying a brand new subject as a form of recreation.
And what would you need to invest? You would need to devote regular amounts of time for studying. Ideally, you would have your dedicated study space where you would not be disturbed and would be able to whole-heartedly focus on your studies. At times, you would need to tackle complex subject matters, work independently and bounce back from challenges. You would need to think about support in advance. Would family members be able to help you with some of your responsibilities whilst studying? You will also need to weigh up how you would prefer to finance your studies. It is worthwhile investigating if your employer might allow you to use some work hours for study or if they can contribute financially to your course.
Myriam worked as a project manager, always keen to develop her professional skills. Myriam is a mother of three boys and loves to spend the weekends with her family. Her employer encouraged her to look into returning to study. Although she genuinely wanted to engage in further study, she was concerned that she would struggle to balance work, study and family time. Myriam spent a few hours weekly researching some courses. She decided that completing her studies in a blended format (both classroom and online elements) would be the best option. She would be able to network with other professionals on her course and exchange insights. She enjoyed working independently so she welcomed the opportunity to study online for some of the time.
As a result of discussions, Myriam’s employer allowed her to work more from home (and cut down hours on commuting) and to devote some work hours for studying. With the support she received, Myriam was able to complete her degree course with flying colours. She has stepped into a senior management position and she thrives in her new role.