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Is it worth doing a conversion course/MSC in Psychology at the age of forty?

(45 Posts)
AristotlesTrousers Tue 17-May-16 05:52:22


I went away to uni to study psychology when I was nineteen (in the mid-nineties). Left due to personal reasons after three years before completing the second year (which I was retaking anyway). I regretted it for a long while, but wasn't in the right 'place' mentally to go back to studying at that point.

Anyway, I went out to work for a few years, and in my late twenties, I went back to complete my degree through the OU. However, during my studies, I met DP, we moved in together and started planning a family. Because of the timings of the courses with the OU and the fact that my biological clock was ticking (in my thirties by this point), I decided to switch and do two sociology modules instead of the full BPS accredited Psychology pathway, thinking that I'd either go back to it after having a family, or do something else with the degree. Was thinking about social research or counselling.

I did get a 2:1 in the end, though the only named subject it is linked to is sociology. We have also completed our family now (DS2 is now nearly 2).

So, I'm currently doing a postgraduate certificate in person-centred counselling and had hoped to do the diploma to qualify and then the masters. However, unusually this year, the diploma course has had huge numbers of applicants (apparently unprecedented) and I haven't made the cut, which I'm more than a little miffed about.

Now, the dilemma I have is whether to reapply next year, though there's no guarantee I'll get on the course, however many more volunteer hours I can squeeze in or what I can do in terms of personal development. And I'm questioning now whether I should have just stuck to the psychology I enjoyed all along.

I'm looking at conversion/MSC courses, but wondering whether I've left it too late to become a psychologist, given that I'd still need to find work experience and then three years more study for the doctorate (assuming I get on a place, which is no mean feat).

So my questions are:

1) Has anybody left it until later in life to study psychology? Is it worth it, given that I wouldn't qualify for a number of years?

2) If you have done a conversion course/MSC, have you done this via distance learning (e.g, Derby), or gone to an actual brick uni to do this? Which route would you recommend?

Thanks for reading (if you get this far!).

AristotlesTrousers Tue 17-May-16 05:54:14

Just realised that I meant to post this in Chat. Still, I guess it could be an AIBU too. AIBU to study psychology at the age of forty?

Mov1ngOn Tue 17-May-16 06:05:14

Following. I use bps but would have to move for doctorate. Similar age.

Mov1ngOn Tue 17-May-16 06:05:35

Use? Have.

baffledmummy Tue 17-May-16 06:10:23

I posted a very similar post a couple of weeks back in no replies blush but am very happy to bump on your behalf OP! Hope you find your answers.

AristotlesTrousers Tue 17-May-16 06:19:27

Oh no, I must have missed that, baffled!

I'm sure we can't be the only ones!

Mov1ngOn Tue 17-May-16 06:26:37

I Google a lot when I was more seriously considering it and worked out that I would most likely be the oldest on the course (I don't feel old!). I think they tend to like "mature" graduates as people need to have had experience but the age spread was later 20s I think and some early 30s. This was only based on trying to Google a couple of years ago my closest courses though!

I so wish I'd qualified pre kids instead of teaching!

AristotlesTrousers Tue 17-May-16 06:31:08

Yes, I'm hoping the maturity part (ha!) will carry a bit of weight, Mov1ing, though am a bit worried I'll be the oldest on the course. I think it's partly why I'm considering doing it online, if I'm honest - well, that and the travelling time which would extend childcare costs slightly.

Mov1ngOn Tue 17-May-16 06:34:04

I meant the doctorate. I'm sure you'd get onto a msc/postgrad course as you've got the academic requirements and it's money for the uni!

If it were me I'd be tempted to do the conversion in person as you'd get a better strength of reference for the doctorate and you'd meet people etc. I did undergrad with OU. Apparently v respected as self starting etc but absolutely no proper academic reference, and not the contacts for progression.

AristotlesTrousers Tue 17-May-16 06:40:15

Ah, that's exactly my concern re: the online course, Moving - the contacts, references, even meeting people etc - it'd be more convenient for me to do it online, but maybe going to a brick uni would be more productive in that respect. Hmm, lots to consider...

baffledmummy Tue 17-May-16 07:14:59

Oh and in answer to your AIBU, YADNBU. I do think psychology is one better left until you have more life experience (although clearly I'm biased and that opinion suits me, but if i'd contemplated such a career at 20, I know I wouldn't have been a very good one!). I don't care about being the oldest in the class grin

I agree with Mov1ng - I'd be more inclined to do it in person, but again that is probably more to do with my learning style. That being said, I did like the flexibility of the Derby course when I researched it (re childcare considerations etc) but I know I'd struggle to learn that way.

Mov1ngOn Tue 17-May-16 07:16:58

I'd so be jumping at it if I had a local provider.

stilllovingmysleep Tue 17-May-16 07:19:20

It depends what you want to do Aristotles. If you want to then do a doctorate in clinical psychology / counselling psychology, that's a really drawn out route. You need the psychology degree, then enough experience to get on a clinical / counselling psychology course (you know how competitive they are) and then only after that you would be eligible for NHS jobs etc. However, in clinical psychology you would have an overall / generic training, rather than being able to work as a counsellor / therapist in any specific model. If I were you I would consider a straightforward training in counselling eg

I think that kind of thing would be a better use of your time. But it really depends what you want to be doing ultimately: an NHS job? or to work privately / in charities etc as a counsellor?

hettie Tue 17-May-16 07:32:35

Mme, well psychology is my second career. I retrained in my thirties. Did a conversion course (the masters option didn't exist when I did it), work experience and then doctorate. So it's completely possible and age is not a barrier per se. but.....It's incredibly tough. The doctoral research was a near tipping point for nearly everyone I know. Plus if the NHS continue to train psychologists (by no means a certainty) I don't know if they have an upper age limit for training places (you'd be late 40's on qualifying?). Best place to try and find more info is ...oh and search the forum they prefer it if you don't ask questions that have been answered 100's of times before smile
That said I love my job (don't love the crippling cuts to services and lack of resource) and I have a life time of learning ahead of me (if I want to keep developing)

Mov1ngOn Tue 17-May-16 07:36:54

Yup I already had a first degree and career. There was only one module (a biology one) between a conversion course and a full bsc for me so I did the full bsc fully intending to apply for the doctorate. Then we moved house and am now not in easy distance of a uni/not sure I want full time and commuting with small children.

So glad you did it hettie! I'd love to keep my brain stimulated. Maybe when I'm even older.

stilllovingmysleep Tue 17-May-16 07:50:24

I also absolutely don't think age is the barrier here. However, its worth looking into upper age limits for trainee psychologists (do they exist in the NHS? I would imagine not but worth checking). As I said, if its counselling / psychotherapy you ultimately want to be doing, there are many many options out there (that of course vary in quality, so you'd need to research) and you wont need a psychology degree for those. Plus such trainings can be fit around family life / a job etc, while going down the psychology route is harder / more full time. Please do PM me if you wish for more ideas about psychotherapy trainings (as I said IF that's the route you're interested in).

wizzywig Tue 17-May-16 07:52:53

Im 40. Im applying to start my msc psych this sept. Dont think im too old.

wizzywig Tue 17-May-16 07:53:39

Ill be doing mine online at manchester met (fingers crossed)

Mov1ngOn Tue 17-May-16 07:56:10

There wasn't an msc conversion when. I did mine (finished 6 years ago). Id have rather done that (grump ;))

Yay for all the future psychologists!

Lucylanz Tue 17-May-16 08:11:53

I wouldn't advice it if you were looking at the clinical psychology doctorate. It takes years of experience (often in highly competitive voluntary research assistant/psychology assistant roles) in addition to a masters or PhD to get on. These can all be achieved of course, but importantly at the moment it is looking like funding is going to be withdrawn from the dclin course (currently funded band 6) meaning should you get on you will need to pay tuition fees and support yourself for three extremely difficult years. Unless you can see yourself applying in the next year or so it will be too late. Saying that a masters would help if you were interested in qualifying as a counselling psychologist or IAPT worker.

scarednoob Tue 17-May-16 08:30:09

my friend did exactly this, but at 30, not 40. what I will say is that she found it very very hard to get a place on a doctorate, and in the end had to be willing to move to Liverpool after 3 years of interviews. if you have DC in school, you might not be able to be that flexible. despite coming top in her year, she then struggled to get a job afterwards, and again had to be flexible and re-locate. it also pays very little for the first few years.

of course there are many plus sides, and now she is established, she absolutely loves it, but getting there isn't easy. I don't think age would be a problem as such, but getting places in the right area might be an issue. good luck!

Mov1ngOn Tue 17-May-16 09:10:27

That's exactly what put me off
An msc/conversion course is easy to come by nut a place on a doctorate is much easier can pay to several/relocate/flexible for placements ad similar after qualifying.

I have 2 very good degrees and really fancy the academic challenge as much as the work but cant see how to make it work.

PerpendicularVincent Tue 17-May-16 09:24:48

I haven't, but a close friend of mine graduated last year and is doing postgraduate research in a field of psychology that she's always dreamed about.

She's only slighter younger than you and is incredibly happy building up her dream career.

It's a competitive field, but if you've wanted this for close to 20 years you need to go for it. You have at least 25 years of working ahead of you!

RonaldMcDonald Tue 17-May-16 09:49:32

Becoming a counselling psychologist is a v long process and the number of jobs at the end are very limited.
It is also insanely competitive.

Focusing on your counselling is only useful if you really want to counsel. By the sounds of things you aren't sure? Counselling is another job that is hugely over subscribed and is generally poorly paid.

AristotlesTrousers Tue 17-May-16 11:08:08

You see, I've really enjoyed my counselling training, but not getting on the next course has made me re-evaluate whether it's the right path for me (or me, it), and it's made me wonder whether I actually chose that because it was a shorter training route for me at the time, rather than it being my first choice iyswim?

I'm now re-evaluating my options and remembering how much I loved psychology (and still do). However, it's the lack of funding over many more years of study that I find unnerving, particularly if the NHS bursary for the clinical doctorate goes. DP earns a decent wage, but my parents help with funding childcare as we couldn't afford it ourselves.

Apart from clinical or counselling psychology, I'd love to work in psychological research. I've looked at specific Masters courses more geared towards that side of things (Research Methods, Social Psychology), but I'm worried about pigeon holing myself, as they're not conversion courses, so I think that the MSc would be the most useful option for further study, as it covers everything. I think I'm leaning towards doing it at a brick uni, rather than online, if I decide to do it, but we shall see.

From the sounds of it, I'm not too 'old' yet, so that's good to know!

Thanks for all the responses. Lots to think about!

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