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Mature Student needing advice about what to study

Hi,

I'm a mature student who's 26 and I'm looking to get back in to education as I've realised the mistakes I made when I was younger not taking my education seriously and right now my career and income potential is very limited.

I've been confused as to what uni and degree to apply for as I need to make a decision very soon in the next few days as I'm planning to redo a maths and english GCSE and my a levels, although I haven't decided what subjects to choose as I'm confused as to what path I should take.

I wanted to try dentistry but the UCAT deadline passed me, and then there was Law but I've had doubts about it as if you don't make it to the top the lifestyle and pay isn't great I've heard. The only other good career options seemed like Computer science or finance/accounting/economics, but I've had doubts about computer science as I've heard there is age discrimination starting from 35 and they prefer younger people for jobs and I won't graduate until I'm 30 so I'm not sure if I'll be able to last long term in this field.

I'm also so conflicted as to which unis to apply for as I want to go to the best ones and the best career prospect opportunity's but I want to be realistic where I will actually have a chance to get in to.

I was thinking of Imperial College London, UCL, Warwick, Nottingham as some of the university's I wanted to apply for, But I'm not sure a mature students retaking a levels and a couple of GCSE would have a chance as I've heard competition is ferocious.


Can somebody please help and give some advice as time is running out and I'm still conflicted and confused as to what to do?

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Unsure what to say because you are considering so many different options. Finding a balance between something that genuinely interests you and career prospects is the key, in my opinion. Which, if any, of the subjects you mentioned do you enjoy?
It's more about likelyhood of me getting in and having a good career, probably looking at economics/finance/accounting or computer science? Law is good but sounds a pain in the backside unless you make it to the top 5%
Original post by maturestudent09
It's more about likelyhood of me getting in and having a good career, probably looking at economics/finance/accounting or computer science? Law is good but sounds a pain in the backside unless you make it to the top 5%

The ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB) is made up of six modules:

Each exam costs £70.

Business, Technology and Finance,
Management Information,
Accounting,
Law,
Assurance,
Principles of Taxation.

At the end of each module, you will need to sit an exam.

Each module is examined by a 1.5 hour computer-based exam.

The exam pass mark of each exam is 55%.

You must be registered as an ICAEW CFAB student to book an assessment exam.

When you have passed all six modules, you will receive your qualification certificate from ICAEW a world leader of the accountancy and finance profession.
Reply 4
Which A levels are you taking? Until you know your grades or have reasonable predictions I don't think its realistic to compare the options. Some are much more attainable than others.
Original post by ajj2000
Which A levels are you taking? Until you know your grades or have reasonable predictions I don't think its realistic to compare the options. Some are much more attainable than others.

That's the thing I haven't picked yet as I'm deciding which unis I have the best chance of getting in to and what they require, I'm definitely doing maths A Level, not sure about the other 2 as Computer science recommended subjects are Physics and Computer science which are difficult to to learn by the summer and the practical part I would have to pay another £1,000 so I'm thinking with Economics/finance or accounting I could take anything and would be less demanding.
Original post by thegeek888
The ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business (ICAEW CFAB) is made up of six modules:

Each exam costs £70.

Business, Technology and Finance,
Management Information,
Accounting,
Law,
Assurance,
Principles of Taxation.

At the end of each module, you will need to sit an exam.

Each module is examined by a 1.5 hour computer-based exam.

The exam pass mark of each exam is 55%.

You must be registered as an ICAEW CFAB student to book an assessment exam.

When you have passed all six modules, you will receive your qualification certificate from ICAEW a world leader of the accountancy and finance profession.

What is this exactly? A degree or?
Reply 7
Original post by maturestudent09
What is this exactly? A degree or?

I'm a member of that institute and would not remotely recommend self funding that qualification.
Reply 8
Original post by maturestudent09
That's the thing I haven't picked yet as I'm deciding which unis I have the best chance of getting in to and what they require, I'm definitely doing maths A Level, not sure about the other 2 as Computer science recommended subjects are Physics and Computer science which are difficult to to learn by the summer and the practical part I would have to pay another £1,000 so I'm thinking with Economics/finance or accounting I could take anything and would be less demanding.

My guess is that maths, FM and business studies would be more accessible for making a decent application to better universities for CS.
Original post by maturestudent09
What is this exactly? A degree or?

The first 6 papers are a part of CFAB, Certificate in Finance, Accounting and Business. Then you can progress to the ICAEW Professional Level exams.

1.5 hour computer-based assessment.

Can be completed at any time at approved test centres.


These modules will introduce you to the fundamentals of accountancy, finance and business.
[start]Most ACA students complete the Certificate Level within the first year of their training agreement.[/start]

You don't require a training agreement initially, as you can register as an "Independent Student." 🙂 But it will cost £70 for the exam fee and £180 for ICAEW Membership annually and a further £450 for BPP videos online and around £2500 to £3000 for the entire CFAB. But once you have CFAB, you're very likely to get a role with a firm. 😉


The Professional Level has 6 papers as well. Usually, Financial Accounting, Financial Management and Audit and Assurance are done in the same sitting and Tax Compliance, Business Planning and Business Strategy and Technology in another sitting. But you can do 2 in one sitting too or just 1 paper as well if you like. 🙂

2.5-3 hour paper exam.

Flexible to fit around your training agreement.

Can be taken in one of four sittings each year.


The Advanced Level has 3 papers and are the most demanding papers of all. ☹️

The Case Study presents a complex business issue which encourages you to problem solve, identify the ethical implications and provide an effective solution.


[start]It must be completed last, and is aimed to test all of the knowledge gained throughout your studies training.[/start]

The Corporate Reporting and Strategic Business Management modules have been designed to test your understanding and strategic decision making at a senior level.

[start]You will be presented with complex real-life scenarios, which expand on the Professional Level modules.[/start]

Take a look here for more details: bfp-brochure.ashx (icaew.com)

Essentially, the ACA qualification is equivalent to a Masters degree.

The average salary is £150,000 a year after 5-7 years or more too. 😉
(edited 3 months ago)
Original post by ajj2000
I'm a member of that institute and would not remotely recommend self funding that qualification.

It costs £15,000 to do with all the BPP Professional courses and ACAMasters.com. However, most students only do CFAB on their own and then gain a training contract for the Professional Level papers and Advanced Level papers.

CFAB would cost just about £3,500 with all the BPP Professional courses and [url=//ACAMasters.com]ACAMasters.com 🙂 It is a worthwhile investment, as you're very likely to get a job in a firm with ICAEW letters on your CV. 😉

It is not too difficult to get a role in Tax at PwC, Deloitte, KPMG or EY. For example PwC has a 55 roles in London, on their website and hardly any for their other career paths?! 😧 So Tax is a sure thing if you enjoy it.
(edited 3 months ago)
Reply 11
Employment prospects for CS graduates are pretty poor, so don't be blinkered by the reputation of that course, either. You need to go in with your eyes open, but honestly, the range of stuff you are considering suggests that you don't really know what you want to do.
Reply 12
Original post by thegeek888
It costs £15,000 to do with all the BPP Professional courses and ACAMasters.com. However, most students only do CFAB on their own and then gain a training contract for the Professional Level papers and Advanced Level papers.

CFAB would cost just about £3,500 with all the BPP Professional courses and [url=//ACAMasters.com]ACAMasters.com
🙂 It is a worthwhile investment, as you're very likely to get a job in a firm with ICAEW letters on your CV. 😉

"It is not too difficult to get a role in Tax at PwC, Deloitte, KPMG or EY. For example PwC has a 55 roles in London, on their website and hardly any for their other career paths?! 😧 So Tax is a sure thing if you enjoy it."

I seriously doubt that "most students only do CFAB on their own and then gain a training contract for the Professional Level papers and Advanced Level papers". Likewise you shouldn't say "It is not too difficult to get a role in Tax at PwC, Deloitte, KPMG or EY."

Large accounting firms simply don't recruit looking for people with CFAB/ any other course people suggest to learn some accounting first. The entry routes are pretty transparent. Basically unless you have experience and move into a job which requires experience the openings are at GCSE type level for accounts trainee AAT positions, post A level for mainstream apprenticeship schemes and graduate entry

None require, expect or are even very interested in previous accounting studies. Someone with lower A levels will have a much lower chance of getting a role regardless of taking some accounting exams that someone who passes the A level and GCSE filters which most firms still use.

I get very concerned about advice to do things like study CFAB, take masters degrees etc to boost peoples applications as they simply don't work. CFAB is more cost and effort than it is worth if someone looks outside of the CA bodies. Its usually far better to start off with AAT or ACCA for people wanting to clear a few exams before looking to get a job in industry.

The unfortunate thing about bad advice is that those who suffer tend to be those less able to afford to suffer. Someone very keen to get a break may go to a lot of effort and blow their money/ parents savings for no benefit. There are much better things to do with that time and effort.
(edited 3 months ago)
Original post by ajj2000
I seriously doubt that "most students only do CFAB on their own and then gain a training contract for the Professional Level papers and Advanced Level papers". Likewise you shouldn't say "It is not too difficult to get a role in Tax at PwC, Deloitte, KPMG or EY."

Large accounting firms simply don't recruit looking for people with CFAB/ any other course people suggest to learn some accounting first. The entry routes are pretty transparent. Basically unless you have experience and move into a job which requires experience the openings are at GCSE type level for accounts trainee AAT positions, post A level for mainstream apprenticeship schemes and graduate entry

None require, expect or are even very interested in previous accounting studies. Someone with lower A levels will have a much lower chance of getting a role regardless of taking some accounting exams that someone who passes the A level and GCSE filters which most firms still use.

I get very concerned about advice to do things like study CFAB, take masters degrees etc to boost peoples applications as they simply don't work. CFAB is more cost and effort than it is worth if someone looks outside of the CA bodies. Its usually far better to start off with AAT or ACCA for people wanting to clear a few exams before looking to get a job in industry.

The unfortunate thing about bad advice is that those who suffer tend to be those less able to afford to suffer. Someone very keen to get a break may go to a lot of effort and blow their money/ parents savings for no benefit. There are much better things to do with that time and effort.

Have you even looked at the modules?

Accounting, Management Information, Principles of Tax are all numbers based exams but multiple choice with the exception of Accounting which has a Financial Statement number filling in the blank numbers.

Also, Business, Finance and Technology, Law and Assurance are not difficult papers. 🙂

If you do the CFAB, you will land a role at the Big 4, especially with 70s, 80s and 90s as your scores.

AAT is work related and ACCA is so saturated and not on the same level as ICAEW ACA.
Reply 14
Original post by thegeek888
Have you even looked at the modules?

Accounting, Management Information, Principles of Tax are all numbers based exams but multiple choice with the exception of Accounting which has a Financial Statement number filling in the blank numbers.

Also, Business, Finance and Technology, Law and Assurance are not difficult papers. 🙂

If you do the CFAB, you will land a role at the Big 4, especially with 70s, 80s and 90s as your scores.

AAT is work related and ACCA is so saturated and not on the same level as ICAEW ACA.


Have you taken this path? And see successfully qualified? Weren’t you planning to take multiple A levels and then go to study law at Oxbridge.
Original post by Cbt33
Have you taken this path? And see successfully qualified? Weren’t you planning to take multiple A levels and then go to study law at Oxbridge.


I originally wanted to study in the USA but that did not work out. ☹️ lol I will be a CFAB by the time I do my UCAS application. I am sitting A-Level Maths in June 2025 and A-Level Further Maths, French, German and Spanish in June 2026 and currently working and saving for my exam entries as I'm a mature student. I am not doing that many but I find languages easy. French and Spanish are very similar and I got an A star for GCSE German, so decided to pursue that A-Level too.
(edited 3 months ago)
Reply 16
Original post by thegeek888
I will be a CFAB by the time I do my UCAS application. I am sitting A-Level Maths in June 2025 and A-Level Further Maths, French, German and Spanish in June 2026 and currently working and saving for my exam entries as I'm a mature student. I am not doing that many but I find languages easy. French and Spanish are very similar and I got an A star for GCSE German, so decided to pursue that A-Level too.


Best of luck- as an Oxford Graduate and a Chartered Accountant you have many exams ahead of you!
Original post by Cbt33
Best of luck- as an Oxford Graduate and a Chartered Accountant you have many exams ahead of you!

What undergraduate subject did you study and at which college at Oxford University? 🙂

Did you sit the ICAEW exams?
Reply 18
Original post by maturestudent09
Hi,

I'm a mature student who's 26 and I'm looking to get back in to education as I've realised the mistakes I made when I was younger not taking my education seriously and right now my career and income potential is very limited.

I've been confused as to what uni and degree to apply for as I need to make a decision very soon in the next few days as I'm planning to redo a maths and english GCSE and my a levels, although I haven't decided what subjects to choose as I'm confused as to what path I should take.

I wanted to try dentistry but the UCAT deadline passed me, and then there was Law but I've had doubts about it as if you don't make it to the top the lifestyle and pay isn't great I've heard. The only other good career options seemed like Computer science or finance/accounting/economics, but I've had doubts about computer science as I've heard there is age discrimination starting from 35 and they prefer younger people for jobs and I won't graduate until I'm 30 so I'm not sure if I'll be able to last long term in this field.

I'm also so conflicted as to which unis to apply for as I want to go to the best ones and the best career prospect opportunity's but I want to be realistic where I will actually have a chance to get in to.

I was thinking of Imperial College London, UCL, Warwick, Nottingham as some of the university's I wanted to apply for, But I'm not sure a mature students retaking a levels and a couple of GCSE would have a chance as I've heard competition is ferocious.


Can somebody please help and give some advice as time is running out and I'm still conflicted and confused as to what to do?


OP, there are very few degrees which will absolutely guarantee you a job at the end. There are many people who have a law degree but struggle to get a training contract, economists who never secured the sought after job in IB. A degree is expensive and I’d urge you to either study something you love, or think about your ideal career and then see what degree would support it, if a degree is indeed the right path. Good luck!
Reply 19
Original post by thegeek888
What undergraduate subject did you study and at which college at Oxford University? 🙂

Did you sit the ICAEW exams?


Many many years ago, when the Big 4 were the Big 6!

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