19 June 2014

21 : Study - Something Borrowed

Adult Learning

Studying again is a good way to help prevent a decaying mind, however, it certainly isn't quite as easy at it used to be. It would have been a little more convenient for me to have been this interested in learning back when I had more things, such as: time, less responsibilities, a mind that agreed to work before midday as well as after midnight and once again time! Trouble is when you do have all those things you don't appreciate it and when you have the time to study it becomes just another mundane part of life you wish away. A benefit of learning when you are well and truly an adult, and it is your choice, is that you can actually enjoy what you are learning.  After all, lets face it, being time poor probably actually helps with organisation and motivation.

I'm sure there are plenty of younger people in universities and colleges around the world taking full advantage of their opportunities to learn. However, there are also many that do not appreciate the chances they have been given or even really know why they are studying in the first place. I am studying again simply because I have the choice to do so and I am interested in learning new things. I must admit I have questioned my motives, more than once, when bogged down with all the readings and deadlines, not to mention paying for the course itself. These issues can be a little trickier to justify.

After completing one semester and one introductory psychology subject I'm feeling pretty satisfied with my efforts so far. However, I need to complete two introductory psychology subjects before I'm eligible, along with my first degree, to enroll in a post graduate diploma. I'm really glad I made the decision to return to study and I hope that I can maintain my motivation and dedication to learning. Of course success and results will make a difference. I had previously become quite used to being a high achiever as a mature aged student, therefore, it is a little humbling to start a new discipline and have to start again from the very beginning.

Don't think for a moment that I can cruise through learning new material and get top grades without even trying. I have never been one of those students that whipped together their essay the night before it was due and scored a high distinction with no effort. Instead, I am the sort that realised I am entirely capable of doing well but only when I put in a mammoth effort.  

It had been a total surprise to me the first time I went to uni, at age 30, that I could do well if I applied myself. Go figure, all those high school reports were probably right with their recurring theme: 'does not live up to her potential'. When I first started uni I didn't even realise there was a grade called high distinction, however, once I worked out I could get them if I put enough effort in, it became my own personal challenge.

Completing my first degree was damn hard work, I was studying 100 km away from home, driving a minimum of 15 hours a week in my car to get there and back and working night fill at a supermarket at night to pay for the privilege. Oh yeah, I also had four kids to raise at the time and was spending all my spare time volunteering for the ambulance service! Despite all of this, I didn't hand one assignment up later than its due date and finished my degree scoring in the top 15% of the entire university. Now that was a nice surprise, considering I hadn't actually finished high school. Well that was all over 10 years ago now, unfortunately I haven't felt that motivated for a very long time, until now.

Life has changed again and I have finally settled on a new topic of interest that intrigues me. I'm not entirely sure how far I will take it, or what it will lead to, but I have my suspicions that it will be exactly what I have been looking for. I'm keen to start my second psychology subject in a few weeks, followed by the graduate diploma of psychology where I will be taking on two subjects per semester after that. Finishing just one subject has been hard enough, however, I'm up for the challenge. As long as I am still enjoying learning new things and gaining good results, I'll maintain my enthusiasm.

For anyone else out there that has toyed around with the idea of returning to study as a mature age student, I can highly recommend it. Just don't go into it unprepared and have unrealistic expectations. It's hard to get the brain working again in a scholarly way, and even harder to learn an entirely new discipline. My husband has joined me with studying again and he is trying his hand at something new as well.

The fantastic results my husband has achieved so far has made all his efforts worthwhile. He is finally getting an opportunity to enjoy learning simply for the sake of learning and studying topics he had never dreamed he would get a chance to. I think he will go a long way and realise that he is already an expert in his field. After all, this is where maturity does have an advantage. After living a life already enriched with experience you find yourself in a position where this finally does make a difference, and you can contribute in ways that you had not anticipated.

In the meantime, I have been enjoying a short break from study to work, instead, on finishing off the first draft of a manuscript I have been working on for a couple of years. As much as it is nice to be a part of formal learning it is also fun to still keep my dreams of becoming an author alive and keep writing. So much to do, so little time. I better get back to it...

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