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Back To School In My Forties

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I always felt like something was missing. Like I hadn’t achieved what I wanted to achieve and even perhaps that time had passed me by. A very good friend of mine convinced me otherwise.

I am talking about a University degree. I finished high school, back in 1988, and commenced a Bachelor of Business majoring in Accounting. I spent the next 6 months of my life wondering what I was doing. I only chose Accounting because a friend of mine had, and I didn’t know what else to do. Suffice to say I quit not long after that and headed into the work force, which I totally enjoyed.

Fast forward 20 odd years. Whilst I have run my own businesses in different fields, worked in a variety of industries and have 3 beautiful kiddies, they are all in primary school now and something was still missing. So at my friend’s suggestion I contacted Open Universities Australia (not only restricted to Australia I might add!). After talking to some helpful and accommodating staff on the phone I found myself enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts program, majoring in Professional Writing and Publishing. I spent the next 2 weeks before I started with a smile on my face and an excitement in my belly, and at the age of 41!

The study is conducted online only; there are no tutorials or lectures to attend – which is perfect for me! You don’t get to meet any other peers but the discussion boards are a godsend. I use Monday to Friday during school hours to tackle the reading and the assignments. But because it’s online you can tailor your study schedule around your career and your family. Balance is the key.

So what’s it like you might ask? Well the smile is still across my face (4 subjects in), though it hasn’t all be smooth sailing. There is a lot of reading (I know it seems obvious doesn’t it), and it does take time to morph into the academic style of writing, it’s an art all of its own. Being more mature I understand the importance and benefit of not leaving things to the last minute. Each time I submit an assignment it’s an achievement. I am completing my degree fulltime, so 8 subjects per year over 4 study periods.

Whether you want to update your education, to retrain or you’re a mum at home like me who felt a wanting after the kids started school then think about heading back to the classroom, albeit a virtual one, and go for it. Yes, it takes a level of discipline and motivation, but I focus on the fact at end of it I will have achieved something I have dreamed of. I am so chuffed, full of gratitude and proud that I embarked on this journey and am blessed to have the opportunity to do so.

About Sandy Dingwall

Sandy lives on the sunny Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, is a mum to 3 little people (9, 7 and 5) and is married to a creative type like her. She has worked and owned businesses in a number of industries – children’s publishing, franchising, bakeries, cafes, a local newspaper and most recently ran her own handbag business. Currently Sandy is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and Publishing.

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  1. I have contemplated going back to school so much lately. But, of course, it’s a hard decision to make when life is so busy already. You are an inspiration to all women who want to better their lives. Your passion and encouragement shows in your article. Thanks for writing about this important subject!

    • You are right about it being a hard decision, one that I have pondered before commencing. But I know back then I wasn’t totally sure about what to study and I think that’s half of it.
      It has to be something you really feel passionately about or love. I have a girlfriend of mine who is a chronic ‘go back to study’ girl, but she can’t seem to stick with it each time… perhaps she hasn’t found the course for her.
      Being a stay at home mum, it’s a great way to merge back into the adult world if you aren’t ready to go and get just any job. I now know I would like to make it a career.

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