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Starting University to do a degree at nearly 42 - Unrealistic and a waste of time?

(70 Posts)
WouldItBeAWasteOfTime Mon 15-Apr-13 22:16:59

DH thinks it would be! Am I too old? Would my age prevent me from getting the well paid job I want? I have 10 years (excluding looong stints as a SAHM) previous experience at a much lower level in the field I am thinking about doing a degree in. All that time I was frustrated and felt that I could do much more but did not have the qualifications or the resources to get any.

I feel I have nothing to lose now as I can't get ANY job anyway seemingly because of the time I have spent out of the workplace. I don't want to spend the next 20/30 years in a dead end job earning NMW! This is my chance to prove myself. It is doable financially. Littlest DC will be starting pre-school in Sept (when course starts) and we will get help with funding childcare for the extra hours he will need. He will start school in a year anyway (July birthday). University is very local and DC1 will be starting college next door at the same time!

I will be 44 and half by the time I finish the degree. I am hoping going to Uni will help me get out of the stagnant rut I've dug myself and I will lose 10 years off my face and hips!!

I have my reservations. I don't want to waste nearly 3 years and find that I am no better off in employment terms and with in excess of £20k student debt! If I can get a decent job, I will only have afterschool care for 1 DC to pay so at least I should be able to pay the student loan back.

AIBU to seriously think about this? Anyone done something similar?

Confuseddd Mon 15-Apr-13 22:31:41

If you want to boost your career, please think carefully about which subject/ university you'll choose as outcomes for graduates can vary wildly. What kind of degree do you want to do?

KnitMinion Mon 15-Apr-13 22:37:47

As the cliche goes, in 3 years you will be 44 either way. You can be 44, or you can be 44 with a degree smile.

I went back to uni last year, I'm 33, and I was terrified! It is working out so far though, there is a reasonable amount of mature students on my course and we keep the 17 year olds in line when they are slacking off in group work! I am not the oldest person on my course either.

Remember also, you don't have to pay back the student loans until you are earning over a certain amount - not sure what that amount is in England though.

Euphemia Mon 15-Apr-13 22:37:55

Does it have to be a degree? Is there anything vocational at an FE college that you fancy? Less expensive, takes less time, and you're more employable afterwards.

DeepRedBetty Mon 15-Apr-13 22:38:03

Of course it wouldn't be a waste of time, no matter what you choose. <fill in stuff about how any higher education degree will help fulfil you as a person blah blah blah>

It would be much better if you had DH's whole hearted support though, and Confuseddd is right, you need to thoroughly research the degree and where it takes you before committing. Is it a subject that this particular Uni is particularly good at?

Lj8893 Mon 15-Apr-13 22:38:28

My mum graduated from her nursing degree at 45. Since then (7 yrs) she has had at least 2 promotions.

So I think if it means you will gain a better career out of it then yes it's worth it!

DeepRedBetty Mon 15-Apr-13 22:39:23

Also I honestly doubt that three years study will magically cause you to reverse in appearance by ten years...

ZZZenagain Mon 15-Apr-13 22:39:55

it depends what you are going to study

QuintessentialOHara Mon 15-Apr-13 22:40:29

My friends mum started doing her PHD aged 72. It is going very well!

I am starting an MBA this autumn. We can hand hold.

scattergun Mon 15-Apr-13 22:40:41

If you know what your degree will get you, definitely do for it. If you're doing it just for you, definitely go for it. If you're doing it just to set an example for your children, definitely go for it.

Pilgit Mon 15-Apr-13 22:41:39

No idea if it will improve your job prospects - it may well do and in 3 years the economy could have turned around and there be more opportunities. However if you want to do it and would enjoy it (and can afford it) it can only be a good thing. I haven't done similar but my DH did - he screwed up first time around and it had always bugged him. He went back in 2010 and thanks to his experience only had to do two years. He graduated last summer with a first. Best thing he did for his self esteem - has it increased his job prospects? as he was self employed before and continues to be it's hard to say BUT it has done wonders for his self esteem and so, in that way it has translated and he has something solid to build his CV on. Is there a way you can do a bit of research into job prospects prior to starting?

SneakyBiscuitEater Mon 15-Apr-13 22:44:51

My DM did her degree in her late 40s. I remember the night before enrolment she was getting cold feet and saying she was too old etc. She wailed to my DDad that she'd be 50 when she graduated, DDad replied "you'll be 50 anyway, you may as well be 50 with a degree!"

I have almost 10 years' lecturing experience now and have taught plenty of folks older than you. It is a cliche but mature students do bring a different perspective to seminars etc. Many mature students are excellent and a true joy to have about, others are whingey complainers

Go for it would it

aldiwhore Mon 15-Apr-13 22:47:12

If you have a particular course in mind, well DO IT Do IT DOOO IT!!!

Not only will it make you believe in yourself, prove to yourself that you can think beyond lego and give you a qualification (and £15k+ of actually the best debt you'll ever have) you will also have access to your university's careers service.

My Uni's career's service enabled me, 12 years after I graduated, to access their career tools and funded projects and I now have a job I love (within the Uni as it happens) that are currently considering funding my MA. And I am someone who has relatively no idea what subject I want to study most, I just love study and I'm good at my job... surprisingly to even me, considering it's in a completely unrelated field to the one I'm in.

I went from an 8years+ SAHM graduate to an employed and employable member of staff within an establishment that really invests in it's employess and pays well enough, and I am not confined to just Uni Jobs forever, I've already been offered two jobs elsewhere for better money, but right now I'm happy where I am.

I now deal with many mature students (from 25 to 85) who study for different reasons and without exception get something incredibly positive from the experience. Yes, I am still in debt, I've barely paid off 1% of my initial loan, but there's no demands for payment, it comes out of my wage, and the amount is very small... what it's given me isn't just a qualification, but a feeling of self worth amongst the University Establishment, where they nurture you, guide you and support you LONG after you graduate.

One of my Masters Modules was free. I didn't continue with the full Masters because it wasn't 'me' or in the direction I wanted to go, BUT I can still refer to it in CV's etc., I receive ongoing support (that is entirely seperate from my employed role) and I feel worthy in a professional sense. In actual fact my 8 year 'break' has become something that is seen as positively (as I'm already proving my professional qualities everyday) rather than an obstacle.

It may not be right for everyone. I am not saying it's the best thing ever, but it's been the best thing ever for me and my head.

Mostly though, if the need to study at a higher level will not leave you, then you should do it, just because. If you can. Do NOT worry about the student debt. It's actually benefitted me as I had NO credit rating before it, I haven't defaulted on any payments and suddenly I find I can get other credit (I refuse, that's just me) and above everything, I feel like I have rejoined the human race and there are people who believe in my potential.

(I do work fucking hard though... )

Don't waste time arguing, your DH is not wrong in his reservations. Find a course that inspires you, talk to the staff, then take your case to your DH once it's watertight and you can show quite happily why it's worth the credit investment. x

WouldItBeAWasteOfTime Mon 15-Apr-13 22:48:11

Confuseddd Thanks for replying. It's a BA in Business Management. I used to be a PA!

IneedAyoniNickname Mon 15-Apr-13 22:48:45

There are people on my access course on their 40s, all applying for uni in September. The oldest is 45, and will be almost 49 when she graduates. I say go for it.

aldiwhore Mon 15-Apr-13 22:50:13

Should add, my Degree was in Theatre Studies, my MA is in something completely different.

My mum's best mate qualified as a teacher at 43, she's just retired at 65 (begrudgingly) ... she's been a headteacher for 8 years.

From 20-45 she was a SAHM.

Never be ruled by the norm.

DangerousBeanz Mon 15-Apr-13 22:50:44

Do it!! Just do it! you owe it to yourself.

formicaqueen Mon 15-Apr-13 22:52:33

I think it depends on the degree to be honest.

Mature students are the better students usually anyway and if the course will open real opportunities, go for it.

FunnysInLaJardin Mon 15-Apr-13 22:54:35

my mum graduated at 60 and the bit in the paper called her a granny which she was most angry about as she wasn't then! She did it for her own self esteem and so should you OP!

Sunnywithshowers Mon 15-Apr-13 22:58:48

I'm 41 and started my degree in October. I'm having the time of my life.

Go for it smile

PomBearWithAnOFRS Mon 15-Apr-13 23:01:36

I went to university as a "mature student" and did a B.Sc and an M.Sc - I was a fair bit older than almost all the other students, they were mostly 18 year old "bairns" grin but the oldest student in any of my classes, also doing a B.Sc, was 48 when we began, and over 50 by graduation, and he never let his age stop him. The youngsters were a bit hmm and called him "Cowboy" because of the way he dressed, but they also accepted him and were friendly and everyone got along well too - if anything it did us all good to mix with people of different ages (different generations even really, given that he was 30 years older than the youngest students) and from different backgrounds.

joanofarchitrave Mon 15-Apr-13 23:06:17

I was all 'do it, do it' but am slightly hmm about 27K in fees for a degree in Business Management.

Why not just start applying for the jobs you actually want, now? And if you don't get them, ask for feedback as to whether a degree in Business Management would have made any difference?

I did a degree starting when I was 38. I now work in the field and love it. But I have two friends who started around the same age, got good results, have not achieved jobs in the field, and are quite negative about the whole experience.

SlowlorisIncognito Mon 15-Apr-13 23:07:44

I don't think doing a degree is ever a waste of time, at the very least you will probably learn something new, and it may change the way you think. It may not be a golden ticket to employment, but it won't close down any oppourtunities either. The debt is not that bad, because of the way it works, although it has got worse in some ways, you now don't have to pay any off until you're earning >£22,000. It doesn't affect your credit rating in the same way an ordinary loan does, either, although it may affect how much you can borrow on a morgage.

I do think you need your partner's (and your older children's to a lesser extent) support though. You will need to do extra work outside class times and this can be quite tiring and time consuming. It may also fluctuate wildly- at exam times, you will want to do more, at the start of the year you may only have a bit of reading to do.

If it improves your self esteem, and you enjoy three years of studying, it's not a waste of time.

WilsonFrickett Mon 15-Apr-13 23:11:14

Do it if you really want to study and learn and stretch yourself. Don't do it just because you think it will lead to a better job. Ive been dipping in and out of FE (Open University so very flexible) and I have loved every single second of it, but I've done it for me, rather than the job market. It's hard and it's expensive so, personally, I think you need to be fully engaged in it.

MsBuzz Mon 15-Apr-13 23:16:45

I started my degree when I was 49. It's taken a while for my brain to crank up a gear but I'm getting there and enjoying it enormously. Don't worry about the debt - the repayments are very reasonable (£35/m when earning £25k) and you have to be earning over £21k to pay anything. I intend to work part-time so will probably never pay off my loan. Don't worry about getting other loans or mortgage as I have been told that they only take into account the repayments not the loan value.
Go for it - what have you got to lose? and you have probably got everything to gain!!

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