Am I mad to even consider this? (going to University)

(16 Posts)
boringbertha Sun 28-Apr-19 18:10:36

Ok so maybe not mad but it would be a massive life change for me....

I'm a 49 year old single parent, 1 DD (15) and 2 DDs at University so 'theoretically' independent of me now. I work 30 hrs in a medium paid admin job and have basically always worked in an office.

However my passion is plants and I'm an ethusiastic amateur gardener and I would really LOVE to do this as a career - although I know I'm a bit late to the party. Careers advice was practically non-existent in the 80s when i left school and although Im bright and did well all through school, I never had the opportunity or the fire to persue any sort of vocation.

Well it seems the opportunity has at least in part presented itself in the form of my organisation being in a voluntary redundancy situation and offering a very attractive 'voluntary leavers scheme'. If I were to apply for it, I would leave with the equivalent of just under a year's salary, tax free.

I've found a 2 year foundation degree course in Horticulture that I really love the sound of, and for anyone who knows the South West, its partly based at the Eden Project. Now I don't know if there are any spaces left for the 2019 intake as I'm conscious its very late in the day to apply and there are only approx 12 places in any case. And would I even be accepted?? I know they encourage mature applicants and i do have a Level 3 qualification.

So, its all ifs, buts and maybes at the moment; I am going to call the admissions dept tomorrow to ascertain whether they have space and if I would likely be accepted.

Then I have to find out if I could survive on a student maintenance loan topped up with child tax credits and still be able to pay my mortgage.

Anyone else taken a similar leap into the unknown? I'd love to hear your experiences and a hand-hold would be very much appreciated.
Similarly, if you've considered it but decided against, I'd be interested in knowing your reasons.

OP’s posts: |
beachyhead Sun 28-Apr-19 18:34:40

Talk to them and see, you'll never know unless you try. And if they are full this year, apply for next year and work the year with a local gardener, nursery or garden centre. You won't regret it.....

BubblesBuddy Sun 28-Apr-19 18:36:37

Just one question. Will you get child tax credits with a large sum of money as a redundancy payment? What tax will you be paying? Seems a bit cake and eat it.

However, yes you should ask about it. I would have expected the course to be full and 12 places isn’t many. However you should do what you love and I assume this will lead to a career change. Can you not access a degree as a mature student? Do you need to do a foundation?

LipstickHandbagCoffee Sun 28-Apr-19 18:41:23

What do you want from the course?employment?or vocational satisfaction
Is there any other course that is comparable or is it a unique course?
Do all the practicalities work?Is the travel manageable?Any additional costs
Will you manage financially?will you take student loan or use savings
I’d advise use student loan as you pay that back when the wage threshold is reached and maintain savings for emergencies

BogglesGoggles Sun 28-Apr-19 18:43:45

Just be mindful that finding work in horticulture isn’t that easy. I think you need to have a good think about what you actually want to do and go from there. If you just e joy gardening then you could set up a garden business for example. Not really any point in s horticulture course for that. If you want to deal in exotic plants then you would be better off doing business training. If you are interested in cultivating plants then a bsc might be more appropriate etc.

78percentLindt Sun 28-Apr-19 18:46:49

Alternately, you could look at the RHS qualifications, which might equip you for a career in horticulture as well.

DerbyRacer Sun 28-Apr-19 18:57:59

I know someone a similar age to you who has done this. She is a lone parent. I think she has a part time job she does and is on the second year of a horticulture course. She is very happy. She also does gardening work for the local authority during the summer months which is very hard work but she enjoys it.

I am a similar age to you and started a college course this year. The course only had 10 place. I applied the day before the course started so was very surprised to get a place. It is a foundation course so I need to decide if I want to continue to next level which starts after the summer.

I think you should do it because it is something you really want to do.


EvaHarknessRose Sun 28-Apr-19 19:04:06

Ideally you would be able to get a job alongside study in year 2 within the industry. Good luck. I can't see any way that at least starting is going to disadvantage you.

BubblesBuddy Sun 28-Apr-19 19:15:03

Having employed Gardners who know diddly squat about plants, someone who does know would be a Godsend! I knew more than most of my gardeners!

boringbertha Sun 28-Apr-19 19:18:31

Well thank you all for your replies, all the questions you have asked are ones I am asking myself on a constant loop!

Just to give a bit more context to my situation, in the next 3 years I'll be relocating to live with my partner in a rural location and ideally i would like to either set up a gardening business or find employment in the horticultural sector. However, quite honestly, at the moment my motivation to do the course is personal interest in the subject. But with the likely outcome that I would then take up this line of work in the future when i move.

The only reason its possible for me to even consider it at this point in my life is the redundancy payment which I could use to pay down some outstanding debt to lessen my monthly outgoings then hopefully survive on a combination of Maintenance loan and Parents Learning allowance which i think i'd be entitled to as a lone parent.

But there is a part of me that thinks i would be mad to think about giving up a reasonably paying job which I am happy with (but don't love in any way shape or form).

I guess I need to find out if there is even the chance of a place on this years intake. If not then I have more time to think about applying next year.

OP’s posts: |
Womblesmurf Sun 28-Apr-19 19:25:56

My mum gave up work when she was 50 and went to uni for 3 years despite the financial struggle and has never looked back. I really admire her for it.

I'm now 44 and studying part time with OU.
I say go for it and follow your dream 🙂

sundaybluecoffee Sun 28-Apr-19 19:26:11

@boringbertha my best friend is studying plant science at the Eden project this September!

boringbertha Sun 28-Apr-19 20:14:01

@Sundaybluecoffee sooo jelous right now!!

OP’s posts: |
sundaybluecoffee Sun 28-Apr-19 23:29:05

@boringbertha go for it if you can! She's really excited and is 20, she couldn't decide what to do for the past 2 years so took some time to wait and think about

boringbertha Wed 01-May-19 13:22:10

Oh crikey, they have spaces on this year's intake!!!!! I need some courage or a good talking to. Don't know if I'm brave enough to make the jumo. I'm 50 this year, life is for living but then sensible head chimes in and shows me my bank balance and all those direct debits I need to pay each month.

I'm going to do a UCAS application and see where I get.

OP’s posts: |
Pythonesque Wed 01-May-19 17:37:46

Good luck with it. Sometimes I think these things are "meant to be" when an idea coincides with an opportunity being available.

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