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    Hi everyone,

    I'm a 33 year old guy who is in a fairly good job and one which I enjoy doing. But I have this nagging part of my brain that feels I have 'missed out' on something and I am really thinking about commencing a degree (my first), probably through the open uni.

    I have been looking through some of the posts and I pretty much know what your thoughts will be, but do you think that realistically I can study a degree part time for approx 6 years and have a change of career, by which time I will be about 40?

    I successfully completed a couple of level 1 Open Uni. courses about 3 years ago and I would love to get back into studying again. My main concern is the financial commitment.

    Furthermore, I would be interested in studying Psychology or Forensic Psychology and I am worried that the job opportunities will be very limited at the completion of my studies.

    The other part of me says that I should go for it and even if I don't get a job at the end of my studies that I will have completed a great personal achievement.

    Sorry for such a protracted post - I guess I just need a bit of impartial advice.

    Thanks so much in advance,

    Martyn
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    Hi Martyn,

    i would say say go for it! Unless the Buddhists have got it right, we only have one life so why spend it doing something when you would rather be doing something else!

    have you looked into full time study options as there are a few funding bodies/scholarships about?

    What country are you based in? Going on your screen name if it's Scotland and you haven't done any higher education before you'll be entitled to funding for your first degree.

    Cant give you any advice on employability with a psychology degree but I do know it's very competitive.

    best of luck
    A
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    I worked on the principle that life isn't a rehearsal, and jumped into a degree with very low 'employability' aged 44. I figured that even if I couldn't get a job in it afterwards, I'd at least have spent three years involved in something that fascinated me - which was three years more than if I'd stayed in my job.

    Yes, getting a job afterwards is a scary prospect. But sometimes you wake up and decide to take the red pill. You just have to make sure that you enjoy as much of your course as you can while you study (although assignment deadlines and exams are never going to be fun!) and be aware of how lucky you are to have the option and opportunity. Even if I spend the rest of my working life stacking shelves, I'll never regret my time at uni. Best few years of my life.
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    I'm currently on the path to uni (doing an Access to HE course this year) as a 30-something student, so I've been facing similar concerns.

    I can't advise you specifically on psychology careers, but if you do go down the part-time degree route, you won't job hunting for 6-7 years - and no one can say what their job opportunities will be like that far in advance. So in that respect I don't think you're any worse off than you will be by carrying on as you are. (A caveat to that is you need to decide if the financial penalties of studying instead of working are worth it for you.)

    Addressing the general issue of "is it the right thing to do or not?", it might help to consider something Helen Keller once said: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure."
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    If it's nagging you it could be deep down that you should give it a go. If you're doing it part time while working at least you're still working at the end of it (?).

    My dad did an OU. Good luck.
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    (Original post by jimmy_looks_2ice)
    I'm currently on the path to uni (doing an Access to HE course this year) as a 30-something student, so I've been facing similar concerns.
    Tell me more about this Access to HE course please. Is it a gap filling between not studied for a long time and preparing you for Uni or something completely different? Would think about doing it if its the former. Thanks.
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    Why not? The open university is great because you can study part-time in your spare time; you don't have to give up your career or move house like you would if you secured a place at a brick university.

    If this is your first degree you may well be entitled to a student loan. Obviously it has to be paid back but it is not like a bank loan, the repayments are very affordable and stop if you are ever out of work.

    My experience of brick university is 'not all that' and in many ways has been a let down for me. I actually treat it like a home-study course only dipping in and out of lectures when I can face it anyway. I actually wish I had just gone through the Open University right from the off.

    Study something you enjoy and want to learn more about... something that interests and excites you. Do not select a course solely for what you think you might get out of it in terms of career change or money. 3 to 6 years is too long to spend studying something you have no passion for, I've found that out the hard way myself!

    As a mature student I believe slow and steady wins the race. If you don't graduate until you are 40 so what? The way this government is going none of us will be able to retire until we are 75 anyway!
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    (Original post by Quiet _One86)
    Tell me more about this Access to HE course please. Is it a gap filling between not studied for a long time and preparing you for Uni or something completely different? Would think about doing it if its the former. Thanks.
    Brain dump follows....!

    An Access course is designed as a formal route into uni for people who have, for example, been out of education for a long time, or who didn't do well in A levels or who are coming at uni from a slightly non-standard way e.g. via vocational qualifications rather than A Levels.

    The way it's set up, an Access course gives a more uni-like study experience than A Levels. So it also works for the student, as they get some idea about whether uni study really is for them.

    Mature student entry isn't the same as the published entry requirements via UCAS or on uni websites. Each mature student application is decided on a case-by-case basis. Many degree courses these days will prefer mature students to do an Access course rather than more/new A Levels, as the Access course gives a better indication of how a student is likely to cope at uni. Access courses don't carry UCAS points at the moment (although this may change in future), so disregard UCAS points requirements on the websites as well.

    Some courses have Foundation years which you can do before transferring to the full degree course. In some cases this will take the place of an Access course or more/new A Levels. However, I've seen a couple of Foundation years recently which have managed entry based on Access results, so this may still be a pre-requisite.

    If you've been out of education for some years, even if you have the right A Levels and meet the published UCAS points requirement, you may still be required to do an Access or Foundation course first. Your ability to study doesn't remain static throughout your life. If you did well in A Levels ten years ago, that doesn't necessarily mean that you can cope with uni now from a standing start. An Access course will get you back up to speed. By the same token, if you did badly at school ten years ago, you now may be much better able to perform academically and an Access course will prove this.

    Beware that there are different "flavours" of Access course, so you need to be doing the right one for your target degree. It's very important that you have a vague idea of what degree you want to apply to before signing up for an Access course. I've replied to someone on TSR in the last month who had assumed that they were doing the right Access course, only to find that their main target uni wanted a different one and rejected their application.

    Always, always (I cannot emphasise this enough) email your target uni(s) Admissions Office *before* signing up to do any extra A Levels, an Access course etc. Explain your situation and current qualifications and get them to tell you explicitly what (if any) additional qualifications they need in order for you to apply for your target course.

    One drawback of an Access course is that they are specifically designed to be an entry point for uni. They don't carry UCAS points at the moment, which can be an issue when looking at Graduate Employment Schemes after uni. Also, employers don't recognise that they are the equivalent of A Levels. If you're dipping a toe into the water of uni and you're still not convinced that you want to go, then it might be better to look into something which gives you a more flexible qualification e.g. an Open University qualification, which could be used for employment as well.
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    (Original post by Klix88)
    Brain dump follows....!
    An Access course is designed as a formal route into uni for people who have, for example, been out of education for a long time, or who didn't do well in A levels or who are coming at uni from a slightly non-standard way e.g. via vocational qualifications rather than A Levels.
    The way it's set up, an Access course gives a more uni-like study experience than A Levels. So it also works for the student, as they get some idea about whether uni study really is for them.
    Mature student entry isn't the same as the published entry requirements via UCAS or on uni websites. Each mature student application is decided on a case-by-case basis. Many degree courses these days will prefer mature students to do an Access course rather than more/new A Levels, as the Access course gives a better indication of how a student is likely to cope at uni. Access courses don't carry UCAS points at the moment (although this may change in future), so disregard UCAS points requirements on the websites as well.
    I was aware of Access courses, but didn’t consider there to be one for a pre-requisite for university. I have been to university before but it was straight after finishing sixth form nearly ten years ago in 2005. I have 280 UCAS points if I was able to use what I had to get me into university again. I was able to use my savings and pay back my student loan at the time. So I would hope that applying again it would be a fresh slate as it were. I have done other L3 courses since but I don’t how they would fair if I was to apply to UCAS now.
    I hate the description of “mature student”..makes me feel so old at 28! Lets hope my qualifications to date and experience in the workplace is enough. But failing that they suggest another course to do as part of the pre entry to university.
    Some courses have Foundation years which you can do before transferring to the full degree course. In some cases this will take the place of an Access course or more/new A Levels. However, I've seen a couple of Foundation years recently which have managed entry based on Access results, so this may still be a pre-requisite.
    If you've been out of education for some years, even if you have the right A Levels and meet the published UCAS points requirement, you may still be required to do an Access or Foundation course first. Your ability to study doesn't remain static throughout your life. If you did well in A Levels ten years ago, that doesn't necessarily mean that you can cope with uni now from a standing start. An Access course will get you back up to speed. By the same token, if you did badly at school ten years ago, you now may be much better able to perform academically and an Access course will prove this.
    I have only found one college that does A-levels for adult learners, but the only personal setback was that they were mixed with 16-18 year olds which I would feel somewhat embarrassed mingling in with them. Nothing personal to them I am sure they don’t care about me being 10 years older than them. But having worked in a FE college and supporting learners in this environment I was seen to be a student having to study all over again let alone a employee of the college and staff would get us confused which sometimes would lose some respect within the classroom with the students. So I don’t know if I could study again with the teenagers! 
    Beware that there are different "flavours" of Access course, so you need to be doing the right one for your target degree. It's very important that you have a vague idea of what degree you want to apply to before signing up for an Access course. I've replied to someone on TSR in the last month who had assumed that they were doing the right Access course, only to find that their main target uni wanted a different one and rejected their application.
    One drawback of an Access course is that they are specifically designed to be an entry point for uni. They don't carry UCAS points at the moment, which can be an issue when looking at Graduate Employment Schemes after uni. Also, employers don't recognise that they are the equivalent of A Levels. If you're dipping a toe into the water of uni and you're still not convinced that you want to go, then it might be better to look into something which gives you a more flexible qualification e.g. an Open University qualification, which could be used for employment as well.
    I will follow up some colleges and universities what my options are, as I want to study Education Studies or Psychology with Counselling. I have completed a couple L2/3 courses and have my 280 UCAS 3 AVCE qualifications which I hope help me in my entry onto the courses. OU did look promising in that I could credit courses and climb the degree ladder at my own pace.
    Always, always (I cannot emphasise this enough) email your target uni(s) Admissions Office *before* signing up to do any extra A Levels, an Access course etc. Explain your situation and current qualifications and get them to tell you explicitly what (if any) additional qualifications they need in order for you to apply for your target course.
    I will do  thanks for your time and brain dump! Very informative and helpful and I look forward to giving you a progress report.
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    (Original post by BigV)
    My experience of brick university is 'not all that' and in many ways has been a let down for me. I actually treat it like a home-study course only dipping in and out of lectures when I can face it anyway. I actually wish I had just gone through the Open University right from the off.
    My sis did her degree as a mature student in the same fashion - just turned up for lectures and didn't really participate in much else (wasn't looking to). I realise an Access course (at FE college) and a degree (at uni) are two different things, so this comparison is a bit tenuous, but in reality that's what I do on my Access course: I come in for the lectures, chat to people in the breaks and if I bump into them at the college library (tend to do my outside-class study at home, so don't spend that much time in the library anyway), and then go home. Even so, I'm so glad I ended up doing the Access course in person at a brick college, rather than trying to do it remotely (as I was originally intending to do). The face-to-face tuition and general contact with other students has been invaluable. I think that's something to consider when deciding on OU or a brick uni for the degree itself, not just that going to a brick uni is unnecessarily more expensive because one isn't intending to socialise much with the younger students.


    (Original post by BigV)
    Study something you enjoy and want to learn more about... something that interests and excites you. Do not select a course solely for what you think you might get out of it in terms of career change or money. 3 to 6 years is too long to spend studying something you have no passion for
    Couldn't agree with this more. I roll my eyes reading some of the threads on TSR in which (I suspect) teenagers are promoting the wisdom of foregoing studying something one is passionate about to study something that will simply lead to more income. It's no good a (relatively) old fart like me wading in and trying to tell them that taking that approach is just as risky since it could end up with them 10-15 years down the line in some job they hate but are stuck in because they've become too accustomed to the money it pays. They'll have to find that out for themselves the hard way.

    (Original post by Quiet _One86)
    was aware of Access courses, but didn’t consider there to be one for a pre-requisite for university. I have been to university before but it was straight after finishing sixth form nearly ten years ago in 2005. I have 280 UCAS points if I was able to use what I had to get me into university again. I was able to use my savings and pay back my student loan at the time. So I would hope that applying again it would be a fresh slate as it were. I have done other L3 courses since but I don’t how they would fair if I was to apply to UCAS now.
    I hate the description of “mature student”..makes me feel so old at 28! Lets hope my qualifications to date and experience in the workplace is enough. But failing that they suggest another course to do as part of the pre entry to university.
    I have only found one college that does A-levels for adult learners, but the only personal setback was that they were mixed with 16-18 year olds which I would feel somewhat embarrassed mingling in with them. Nothing personal to them I am sure they don’t care about me being 10 years older than them. But having worked in a FE college and supporting learners in this environment I was seen to be a student having to study all over again let alone a employee of the college and staff would get us confused which sometimes would lose some respect within the classroom with the students. So I don’t know if I could study again with the teenagers! 
    I hate the "mature student" designation too, but unfortunately, since it's gained such widespread acceptance, we're stuck with it. Apologies if I'm harking on about the Access route again if it isn't one that's realistically going to work for you, but if it is, it will get you around the studying with 16-18 year olds issue. Access courses are specifically designed for students aged 19+; on my course there are 2 or 3 at the lower end of the age spectrum, but most are 25+. And my experience of it so far is that it's excellent preparation for university, so it may well be worth considering it even if unis you're looking at don't explicitly ask for it.
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    (Original post by jimmy_looks_2ice)
    I hate the "mature student" designation too, but unfortunately, since it's gained such widespread acceptance, we're stuck with it. Apologies if I'm harking on about the Access route again if it isn't one that's realistically going to work for you, but if it is, it will get you around the studying with 16-18 year olds issue. Access courses are specifically designed for students aged 19+; on my course there are 2 or 3 at the lower end of the age spectrum, but most are 25+. And my experience of it so far is that it's excellent preparation for university, so it may well be worth considering it even if unis you're looking at don't explicitly ask for it.
    I guess I looked at the Alevel option as I wanted to have more A levels and they looked interesting like Art and Psychology. not to mention that I would have the credits of going to university but after reading on here and university profiles "mature students" aren't taken on how many UCAS pts they have but the experience and understanding of the course I summarised from my findings, I am going to aim at looking at open day university this side of the summer break and see if clearing is an option otherwise UCAS here I come I think. How old are you Jimmy if you don't mind me asking.
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    (Original post by Quiet _One86)
    I guess I looked at the Alevel option as I wanted to have more A levels and they looked interesting like Art and Psychology. not to mention that I would have the credits of going to university but after reading on here and university profiles "mature students" aren't taken on how many UCAS pts they have but the experience and understanding of the course I summarised from my findings, I am going to aim at looking at open day university this side of the summer break and see if clearing is an option otherwise UCAS here I come I think. How old are you Jimmy if you don't mind me asking.
    Access is the popular and most straight forward route for a mature student. But there are a couple of downsides; the lack of UCAS points can be an issue if you wanted to apply for certain grad job schemes. Access courses can't go into as much depth as an A-level and as a result it can be more tricky to get accepted for certain types of course or some elite universities.

    I mean it was a few years back now but when I did my Access course I discovered certain universities wouldn't consider me without additional A-level maths.

    On the other hand some universities seem to bend over backwards to help "mature students"...Loughborough for example offered a massive bursary and the entry requirements they set were (IMO) much lower than A-level equivalent.
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    (Original post by BigV)
    Access is the popular and most straight forward route for a mature student. But there are a couple of downsides; the lack of UCAS points can be an issue if you wanted to apply for certain grad job schemes. Access courses can't go into as much depth as an A-level and as a result it can be more tricky to get accepted for certain types of course or some elite universities.

    I mean it was a few years back now but when I did my Access course I discovered certain universities wouldn't consider me without additional A-level maths.

    On the other hand some universities seem to bend over backwards to help "mature students"...Loughborough for example offered a massive bursary and the entry requirements they set were (IMO) much lower than A-level equivalent.
    That's one of my concerns for Access courses..my friend has suggested Middx Uni as I will be needing & requesting learning and financial support! I'll be going to some open days and see what they suggest I need.


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    (Original post by martynscotland)
    Hi everyone,

    I'm a 33 year old guy who is in a fairly good job and one which I enjoy doing. But I have this nagging part of my brain that feels I have 'missed out' on something and I am really thinking about commencing a degree (my first), probably through the open uni.

    I have been looking through some of the posts and I pretty much know what your thoughts will be, but do you think that realistically I can study a degree part time for approx 6 years and have a change of career, by which time I will be about 40?

    I successfully completed a couple of level 1 Open Uni. courses about 3 years ago and I would love to get back into studying again. My main concern is the financial commitment.

    Furthermore, I would be interested in studying Psychology or Forensic Psychology and I am worried that the job opportunities will be very limited at the completion of my studies.

    The other part of me says that I should go for it and even if I don't get a job at the end of my studies that I will have completed a great personal achievement.

    Sorry for such a protracted post - I guess I just need a bit of impartial advice.

    Thanks so much in advance,

    Martyn
    I'm 36 this year an in the same boat. I am doing a degree as I want to, plus so many jobs require degree level applicants. I too am considering Forensic Psychology. A long haul but lets face it, retirement won't be for easily 40 years yet!! I have had comments that I am too old etc but balls to that attitude. I have been offered a place at Portsmouth for Criminology and Forensics which I am considering doing instead. Portsmouth by the way offer a distance learning Criminology degree. I didn't want the OU route as I much prefer having the facility to mingle. Go for it!! My Mum did her degree part time about the same age as me. Didn't see her suffering after. I have more enthusiasm than I did years back. I am getting grades in access I am capable of rather than wing it as I did ages ago. It's great!!
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    I wish I could go back university and study something I have passion for. I had passion in computers especially webdesign, however I wish I'd studied English Literature and Creative writing.
    I have thought of postgraduate courses, I wouldn't be able to get finance as I'm over 30, but in my early 30s. I have half a year of student finance left. I'm not sure what will happen after the general election.
    The other option I've always wanted to do is teach, however I can't get onto PCET as no one will take me on. I guess it's a Good thing as I can concentrate on my writing.
    It's knowing where to go from here.
 
 
 
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