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Returning to Education - Starting College

Thinking about coming back to College as an adult learner? Gaining new qualifications is a great way to boost your current skills, retrain for a new career, or just improve your confidence and knowledge. 

What’s stopping you? 

Fear. Will I be capable of the work involved? Will I be surrounded by teenagers? What if I fail? 

Cost. How will I afford the fees? Will I be eligible for any concessions or student loans?   

Time. How will I juggle all my other commitments such as family and job? Will I be too old by the time I pass the course? 

How can you resolve these issues? 

Firstly, you need to gather as much information as you can about the courses you are interested in. Where can you study, what are the entry requirements and what will you gain at the end of the course – does it actually lead to a qualification? College and university websites contain the information you need to make a start, but you may need to call or email if you have a specific question that you cannot find an answer to. Attend any open events that you can; it will help to meet other people interested in the course and talk with the tutor prior to application. It is easy to get trapped in negative thoughts about failure, but you never know until you try! 

Costs are a big factor in deciding to return to education. Fees are usually payable if are over 19. However, there are concessions and government loans available depending on the course and your circumstances. Check with the college or university directly to confirm if you may be eligible. Advanced Learner Loans are available to cover fees for Level 3 courses. Higher Education loans are available to cover fees for HNCs, HNDs, Foundation Degrees and full Batchelor Degrees. If you or the course you are applying for are not eligible for a concession or a loan, there may be a payment plan available instead which allows you to pay in instalments. 

If you are working and/or have family to care for at home, it can be a struggle to fit studying in alongside everything else! Time-management really is the only solution to this – try and put aside a bit of time each day for studying so that things don’t build up into something unmanageable. Use the library or learning facilities on site to get your work or research done outside of home – it may be easier to concentrate and complete it in a more timely manner. 

Why not have a look at the University Level and Professional Courses we offer.

If you’re not sure what career path to take but know you want to make changes, it may be helpful for you to speak to a Careers Adviser. The National Careers Service has a helpline and some very useful online tools to help you narrow down your search:  

Skill Health Check

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