Top Ten Tips for... Deciding to go back to school
12th August, 2018
School’s out for summer! And while your first instinct may be to switch off your PC, down tools and pack your bags for a well-earned holiday, summer is also the ideal time to reflect on what you hope to achieve in future.
Once you’ve left the world of college and university behind for the workplace it can be tricky to figure out how to fit further learning and development into your life. At cHRysos HR, we believe it's never too late to get back to learning! But there are lots of things to consider when it comes to your continual professional development.
If you’re thinking of returning to study after the summer break, hoping to progress your career with further learning and development, here are our top tips:
1. Consider what you've already achieved
Before you start to look forward it’s always good to reflect on what qualifications and skills you have already achieved. Grab a notebook and start to make a checklist. It could include formal qualifications you gained at college and university as well as any on the job training you’ve had. Think hard about how you'd like to expand on this in future.
2. Identify the personal attributes you’ve developed
Learning and development isn’t just about formal qualifications, but also about the way you have personally evolved. Considering what your strongest personal attributes are and how you want to progress further is just as important. For example, you might want to boost your confidence in a certain skill-set, or you might want to develop your management or team leadership skills.
3. Employability is key
If you’re thinking of taking the next step on the career ladder, you need to know what qualifications or experience is key to getting you there. What will get you the job of your dreams? It’s worth asking any senior colleagues you admire if they would be willing to share how they climbed the career ladder and what further development they’d recommend. If you’re missing a crucial qualification, look around at which educational establishments run courses near you and how much they cost.
4. Consider the cost
Committing to a new course includes considering the cost of it too. Think about course fees, books and resources plus any travel commitments. Many employers will help towards the cost of further training if you can showcase the benefit your skills will have on the business. If it’s experience you need, then think about how your employer can help you get it.
5. Make sure you're going to enjoy it
Any extra-curricular study is going to take willpower and determination. You’re probably going to have to give up your time and invest a lot of effort so ideally, you want to be studying or working towards something which you really enjoy.
6. Look at how much time you will have to study
It’s important to think realistically how much time you will have to dedicate to your studies. Whether you are enrolling on a short-term course or aspire to achieve a qualification which will take a year or longer, you will inevitably have to give up a chunk of your spare time. Think about your schedule, what available time you have during the working week and at weekends and how you can fit study in.
7. Build a great support network
It’s unrealistic to think that you won’t need some support to achieve your goals, especially if you’re juggling work commitments, childcare and want to include a social life. It’s worth having a discussion with your boss or mentor at work to see if they can help you in any way, such as by offering flexible working hours or a quiet space to study. It’s also wise to speak to your family about the extra commitment you’re taking on and to work out how they can help you free up some time.
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8. Consider your preferred learning style
How you like to learn now may be completely different to what you did at college and university when lectures and exams were largely dictated to you or your course leaders. These days there’s much more choice about how you achieve qualifications and accreditations. Do you like to study alone, in a quiet space away from others? Or do you like a more interactive approach and like to learn with others? This may determine whether you go for an online Open University type course or attend a course in person.
9. Update your basic skills
Modern technology means the world is changing fast. If you've been away from study for a while then it's likely that the technology that helped in the past will be significantly more advanced. But don’t let that put you off – view updating your skills, whether it’s a computer programme or hands-on mechanical system, as part of your development. Training in word processing, using spreadsheets and online research are all widely available.
10. Stay motivated
There are lots of tricks you can use to help keep you motivated, especially if you celebrate your achievements along the way. Why not set yourself rewards for the milestones you have reached? This could be anything from a meal out at your favourite restaurant for every module completed to a well-earned holiday once you have graduated.
Julie Gordon is the Managing Director of cHRysos HR Solutions, a Doncaster based HR training and consultancy company providing CIPD and CMI accredited qualifications nationwide, as well as HR Consultancy to SMEs. For more information about how cHRysos HR can help you return to study and achieve further qualifications contact Julie on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1302 802128.