Have you ever considered a degree or masters course of study out of interest rather than to further your career or secure a different job?

I’m certainly not alone as more and more mature (sounds better than older) students enrol for online TAFE or uni courses. For many years, I have wanted to complete an MBA but just never got around to it and always managed to come up with a perfectly credible excuse for not starting. Of course, there are always other priorities in our busy lives to distract us from further study, but they say the longer you leave it the harder it becomes. I would certainly agree with that.

Working a 50-hour week does not help, but getting started is the hardest part of all.  I found that after 35 years in the workforce, making the adjustment to mid-week late nights without a glass of wine to relax after a big day at the office takes some adjustment. To make things a bit trickier, weekends are normally the time to really get stuck into those assignments due the following Monday or Tuesday. So, golf, beach, and a few other weekend pursuits may have to go on hold for a while.

However, for those considering additional study in their later years, the hardest part is probably reserved for the spouse or partner who needs to endure many lonely nights and not too infrequent whinging about assignment deadlines or referencing headaches.

So, why do so many endure the pain and extra effort just when life was supposed to be getting easier, I hear you say? Well, the truth is, the experience is generally very rewarding. Most surveys confirm that whilst most mature age students experience added stress, particularly in the early stages of study commencement, the overall satisfaction rates are extremely high and the determination to complete the course is often higher than for their younger peers.

My 5 tips

As I near the end of my MBA and wonder about what I will do with all of those extra hours each week, here are my 5 tips to help those mature/older folk get by:

  1. Commit

Enrol and pay the fees before you find another reason not to start. Just do it!!

  1. It will get easier

Grind it out for the first 2-3 months. This is the hardest part and, like getting fit, it does start to get easier after that.

  1. Location location

Find a quiet and not too comfortable spot away from the TV and maybe without that glass of wine – at least during the week.

  1. Spoil yourself

Take at least one night off from study over the weekend. Remember to spend some quality time with your partner or kids who are probably wondering whether you still live in the same home. After all, this is supposed to be fun!!

  1. Keep fit

I found that going for a run or walk most days really helped to keep my energy levels up and stay focused.

So, the question remains – are you ever too old to learn? Probably not and there are many thousands who would support that view. I, for one, would not hesitate to encourage anyone thinking about further education to give it a go. Who knows what contribution you could make with a combination of experience and a little added knowledge.