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    Good evening all,

    Apologies to post such a serious post, however I would really like some honest advice on my current situation.

    After working in the retail industry for many years I have realised that this is not where I see myself for the rest of my life and I desperately regret not pursuing education when I had the chance.

    I do however feel stuck as with a mountain of large debt already which will take many years to pay back im struggling to think if I could ever consider a degree.

    On a separate note I would need to complete an access course/ a levels before I could even start but im struggling to decide what path I want to pursue.

    I have read psychology and philosophy books for years and these are certainly an area of interest, however im concerned that a philosophy degree won't actually lead me to a new career change.

    I also hear Psychology is very competitive and I worry I have left it at the age of 30 too late to pursue this path.


    Pleade help! Should I forget this dream all together!?


    BB
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    (Original post by bakedbeanboy)
    Good evening all,

    Apologies to post such a serious post, however I would really like some honest advice on my current situation.

    After working in the retail industry for many years I have realised that this is not where I see myself for the rest of my life and I desperately regret not pursuing education when I had the chance.

    I do however feel stuck as with a mountain of large debt already which will take many years to pay back im struggling to think if I could ever consider a degree.

    On a separate note I would need to complete an access course/ a levels before I could even start but im struggling to decide what path I want to pursue.

    I have read psychology and philosophy books for years and these are certainly an area of interest, however im concerned that a philosophy degree won't actually lead me to a new career change.

    I also hear Psychology is very competitive and I worry I have left it at the age of 30 too late to pursue this path.


    Pleade help! Should I forget this dream all together!?


    BB
    Posted from TSR Mobile
    Do NOT let the fact that you have debt put you off of University!!

    Firstly you should decide whether you want to do Access or A Levels... Are you better at learning things yourself, or do you prefer to be in a classroom?

    If you can learn yourself, you could sit A Level exams privately - however to do this you'd have to do it in 2 years as it'd be extremely difficult to sit both AS and A2 modules in 3 A Levels in one exam period. Each exam costs between £50 - £75 EACH (Law A Level has 4 exams, so it'd be minimum £200 per A Level as an example).

    If you prefer to be in a classroom - go with Access to HE course. As you're over 24 you'd get a loan from the government which would cover the costs of the fee's. If you then go to University, this loan is wiped off. If you don't go to Uni, you pay the loan back in the same way as the usual student loans (see 2 paragraphs down).

    Personally, I would say go with the Access Course as it enables you to study various subjects, as well as being cheaper in the long run (if you go on to university). I did some Psychology units in my Access course as well as English, Maths, IT, Study Skills, History and Sociology (though most places have different / other modules and in some colleges you can choose which subjects you want to do).

    With regards to University funding you can go part time and still work. Student finance will cover your fee's for you via a tuition fee loan, this would cost £6750 per year for 4 years (So this would cost you a total of £27,000). If you go to Uni full time, you'd get the tuition fee loan for the 3 years, as well as some maintenance loans - this is income dependant and could be somewhere in the region of a total of £27,000 fee's and £15,000 (could be more!).

    HOWEVER. When you take out these student loans they are NOT like 'other, normal' debts. You pay them back from your salary as a stupidly low rate, and ONLY if you're earning more than £21,000 per year. For example, if you were to earn £25,000 per year I believe you'd pay something like £7 per MONTH back.... you start paying the April after your course ends and, whatever is left, is wiped 30 years later.

    If you were to go Part time, you'd have less to pay back and you can work, however it does take an extra year to complete. On the flip side, if you do go part time you study less modules per year, meaning you can concentrate more time on those modules to get higher grades.

    And don't worry about Psychology being competitive. I'm 26 and just got in to a 1994 group university for Law (also a very competitive subject!). Sometimes a uni will prefer a mature student as they see you being more committed than a younger person and know you'll put in the effort. I don't remember where I saw it, but a statistic stated that mature students get higher grades generally than those going fresh from college.

    I hope this helped!
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    Wow, that's so super helpful!

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed and informative response for me. I was not aware that I can receive funding for the Access course and possibly even get that money back when I attend University!?

    In my heart Psychology is what I would like to study as I have such an interest in this field, and specifically mental health conditions.

    Can I work part time while attending an Access course?

    I live in the South East but where should I be looking to apply to University to put me in a good position for this path?

    BB
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    Universities have differing mature student entry requirements for different courses, so try and narrow down to maybe half a dozen choices, then contact them and ask whether they'd need Access or A Levels. Don't assume that Access will be accepted by all unis/courses - sometimes other qualifications are preferred and occasionally additional study isn't needed at all. And remember to ask the unis what *type* of Access course they want, as they focus on a range of different fields. Never make assumptions and always check before committing time and money to a preparatory course which might be unnecessary - or worse, not what you need to be doing.

    In addition, decisions about entry requirements can be made on a case-by-case basis. There were two mature students on my undergrad degree. I didn't have to do an Access course but the other mature student had been required to do one.

    I started my degree aged 44 and I'm now on a PhD. It's never too late!
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    (Original post by bakedbeanboy)
    Wow, that's so super helpful!

    Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed and informative response for me. I was not aware that I can receive funding for the Access course and possibly even get that money back when I attend University!?

    In my heart Psychology is what I would like to study as I have such an interest in this field, and specifically mental health conditions.

    Can I work part time while attending an Access course?

    I live in the South East but where should I be looking to apply to University to put me in a good position for this path?

    BB
    Where in the South East are you? There are some good places in London, such as UCL, Birkbeck, Goldsmiths, QMUL, and Royal Holloway. If you're far in the south east, Exeter do Psychology too. Most uni's I've mentioned are in the Russell Group or 1994 group. I think only 2 aren't.

    I do think going to a Russell group or 1994 group would put you in good stead, especially if you wanted to then go on to do a Masters or something, as they get more funding for research based courses.

    You can work part time whilst doing the Access course yes, I did. I was only in classes for 16 hours per week over 3 days. So I had other time to study and work. Access courses can also be studied via distance learning as well but, again, depends if you can learn like that - I know I can't!

    Also, if you apply for the loan for the Access course, and then go on to University you don't get the money 'back', the loan is just wiped off

    If it comes down to money, and you needing to work whilst studying you can choose to study your degree via full time 3 years at Birkbeck in London, and continue working pretty much almost full time, as Birkbeck's classes are all in the evenings (it's where I'm going!).

    Obviously, it depends on your circumstances which will help make your decision - I can't afford to work less than 32 hours per week so have to study part time realistically.
 
 
 
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