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Leslie Gilmour

How Mature Study Can Change Your Life

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I mentioned in my last post about the Camino, that I walked while being a mature student.  Leaving behind my accounting career and studying English Literature and Philosophy was not started with a new career in mind.  It did however, lead to a new career in marketing, by a circuitous route.

I had always loved writing and reading and wanted to be able to express myself better in written form.  That was one of my main reasons for the subjects I choose to study.  I had tried unsuccessfully a few times to write a novel. After tearing up the last one I woke the next morning thinking I should build a website. Where that came from I have no idea, but it was the beginning of a new direction.

I spent some time learning HTML & CSS, there are many free courses online that will help.  I then started writing, and immediately thought - this is what my study prepared me for, research and writing.  I loved it, web writing was short concise articles and that suited me better then than trying to write a novel, (it is still a dream). I built a website that nobody visited and that resulted in me learning marketing.

A Word on Dreams

My dream to write a book eventually came about.  I wrote a guidebook, it is the most difficult single piece of work I have ever completed.

Just because something is a dream does not mean it will be easy.

How the Open University's Free Courses Can Help

A friend studied addiction part time while working in a completely unrelated field.  More than 15 years later she now runs a counselling centre, (after much more study). The cost of a part-time study is not expensive, but your time is, and making large mistakes in direction can be costly in the longer term.  

There are a multitude of free courses available via Open Learn.  For example, if you think becoming a therapist is for you then this free course on diagnosis in counselling and psychotherapy might be a place to explore how strong your desire is. This could lead you to study the degree in counselling.

Marketing - The New Dream Jobs?

Someone else I know decided early on that marketing was her main love and was going to be her career.  But, even once you know what you want to do and become qualified enough it does not mean that learning is not required. She is now the marketing manager of a company that installs SAP Business One for small businesses.

This type of job requires intimate understanding of your product and service.  You are not expected to install SAP Business One, but you are expected to know every way it can help a business and all of the details that are involved in setting up.

Learning really is life long.

Do you think a new career in marketing is for you?  Look at these free options to get you started: Marketing in the 21st Century, Stakeholders in marketing and finance, or Products, services and branding.

I have read in many places that we are all marketers - at least you should be of yourself, especially in this age of social media and openness online.  The above courses give a great introduction to different areas of marketing, and if they spark your interest there is a degree course in business management that specialises in marketing.

Commitment is Required

Just because a course is free does not mean you can just treat it lightly.  This is the road to failure.  I don’t know the statistics for OpenLearn dropout rate but I have seen stats on free course dropout for Massive Open Online Courses and the percentage is staggeringly high.

Start planning.  I have a two-year-old, this makes a huge difference compared to being child free.  My only time for study is 90 minutes between his bedtime and me becoming too tired to study more.  I study four nights per week - Mon to Thur.  Even though I have worked in this job for ten years, and don’t ever imagine doing something else, it changes constantly and study is required to stay relevant at the cutting edge.

Each course in the OU will give indications of time commitments.  Decide when you will have that time available and stick to it, miss it once and it becomes very easy to miss again.  Once you do that it can become hard to catch up, do everything you can to avoid becoming disheartened.

It takes some time to understand a new discipline.  So, stick with it.  You might not understand much for a while, but breaking study down into smaller goals helps.  Talk about your study, explain the class you have just taken to someone else - these all help to gain a better understanding.  Write, write, and write - this is how I learn.  You might be different, but I still remember research from essays I wrote at university.

My last bit of advice.  Turn off the television, this one simple action can free up many hours to create a better life.

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