Most of us wish we had paid a little more attention at school or studied a bit harder to get higher grades. Whatever the reasons, the result is, we’ve found ourselves lacking something that would have been useful in our careers.
It can feel embarrassing too. Admitting that we don’t have a qualification or skill, especially if it’s because we didn’t try as hard as we could have.
If you have been out of education for some time or you’re a couple of decades into your career, learning can seem rather daunting. More so if your subordinates seem to know more than you.
But the whole point of learning is to know more and do better. It’s a process that never ends and can lead to a better career or a more profitable business.
Then there’s the time factor. It’s easy to feel too old to go back to school or retrain for a new career. But if not now, when? While you may feel too old now, you’ll feel a lot older in a decade and just as unfulfilled as you do now.
So, it’s never too late to become educated. The better question is how to become educated.
Where do you want your learning to take you?
Before you spend a lot of time researching courses, you need to decide what your desired outcomes are.
Do you simply want to do your job better? Or do you want to progress? You may want to develop skills in order to follow new career path within your current organisation.
It could be that you want to develop some new skills to set up a side business. This could be an opportunity later down the road to become self-employed which may require more learning in the future.
Alternatively, you may want to retrain and start an entirely new career.
It’s important to establish an objective as it helps to keep you motivated. It will also inform what kind of course or courses you will need to complete.
It’s also worth considering the kind of academic setting that would work best for you. Some courses can be done during working hours with your employer releasing you for one day a week.
Others are evening courses that usually involve one lesson a week followed by assigned work.
Finally, online distance learning allows you to fit your studies around work and family commitments. There are no classes, you simply log in to a learning portal and access the material and your assignments.
There is no right or wrong way to learn, just opt for the approach that suits your circumstances best.
What to Learn
Assuming you know your outcomes, you should start to build a picture of the kind of course or qualification you need.
Below are some of the most common qualifications you can take in order to achieve your academic and professional goals.
General Certificates of Secondary Education are a national standard exam that is traditionally taught to students between the ages of 14 to 16.
Anyone who left school in the last 30 or so years will no doubt be having flashbacks to a punishing revision and exam schedule.
While not all your GCSEs may have felt too relevant at the time, English, Maths and Science are common minimum requirements to enrol on certain courses. And even certain jobs, such as teaching.
If you lack qualifications GCSEs are a good place to start. They will raise your levels of comprehension and instantly open new academic and professional opportunities.
A Levels are a standardised qualification introduced during the 1950s for school leavers. They were intended to serve as a nationally recognised qualification to help 18-year olds find work in their chosen areas of interest.
They also serve as a foundation for going on to study at university. If you are interested in going to university but don’t have A Levels, studying them through a college or distance learning provider is your best option.
In most instances you can study around your job or current commitments and each course will take around a year to complete via distance learning. Although, you do have 2 years to do this so there’s some wiggle room if life is a little on the busy side.
The big advantage of A Levels is that they are recognised by pretty much every business and educational institution. You can also study the subjects that are either of most interest or most relevant to your role/studies.
Access to Higher Education Diplomas
Access to Higher Education Diplomas are for anyone over who wants to go to university.
If you’re planning on going to university in order to start a whole new career, this is one of the best ways to do it.
The diplomas are tailored to provide you with key academic knowledge in your chosen subject and the opportunity to learn degree standard study habits.
As with degrees, you are also spoilt for choice in terms of which diploma you study. However, always check with your chosen university that the diploma is relevant to the degree you want to study. If not, you may not be accepted on to the course.
Also make sure that the university recognises Access to Higher Education Diplomas in the first place. The overwhelming majority do, but not all. Also, make sure that the diploma is recognised by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). This guarantees the quality of the course and a recognised qualification at the end of it.
Regulated Qualification Framework courses were launched in 2015 by Ofqual. Their objective was to create a single simple system for classifying the qualifications they regulate.
The RQF qualification was designed to be universally understood and measurable in relation to other qualifications such as A Levels.
A ‘level’ system was introduced so both students and employers would understand the complexity of the course and ability required to achieve the qualification.
A Level 3 award is roughly equal to a single A Level, and a Level 5 is around the same as a foundation degree.
RQF courses are a recognised and viable alternative to GCSE and A Level study, especially if you want to work towards a career in childcare and similar.
Around 95% of universities accept vocational qualifications such as BTECs for around 70% of subjects. Universities increasingly recognise the value and unique perspectives these kinds of qualifications bring to seminars.
In most instances, anyone who has obtained a vocational qualification will study a related subject in a higher education setting. This is largely because the qualification will be quite specific.
However, if you have a vocational qualification and you want to study something else entirely, check with the university prior to enrolment to ensure you would be accepted onto the course.
Going down the vocational qualification route can be good if you know the career path you want to go down. It’s also good if you prefer a mix of applied learning as well as the academic, assignment-based learning.
Regardless of your journey or the route you take to achieve your goal, it is never too late to become educated. Or go to university or start the career you’ve always dreamed of. Because if not now, when?
learndirect offers a wide range of GCSEs, A Levels, RQFs and Access to Higher Education Diplomas in order to help you realise your ambitions.
Check out our diplomas or contact a member of our sales team today to learn more and enrol.