For many, the thought of going back to college after graduating from University seems like a huge step backwards. However, the reality is that for us millennials, going to Uni no longer automatically secures us a career as it did for our mentors. With more young people than ever going to University, the job market is very competitive. Not all graduates will manage to find a job right away and many will fail to gain a position in their chosen field. Some may also decide that they want to take a different career path to the one they originally planned when they started Uni. I for one, did well at University, but as I progressed through my studies I realised that an all-consuming graduate job was not what I wanted right now. Instead, I decided to go back to college to pursue an alternative career path. Here are just some of the benefits of going back to college after Uni:
1. You’ll learn vocational skills to gain employment or pursue a career change
You may have all the academic qualities an employer is looking for, but if you lack relevant work experience and transferable skills, you will likely struggle to gain employment. Or, if like me you decide to pursue a career change, college could help you get the foot in the door. An example of this is if you study a curriculum subject at Uni, realise you don’t want to be a teacher and decide you’d rather work in a classroom support role.
Well, you’ll need a vocational work-based qualification to do that, even if you know the subject inside out. Colleges therefore offer part time courses for adults to enable you to study around an existing job or voluntary placement. College will prepare you for the workplace and give you relevant transferable skills to take with you. Doing this after Uni, has the added benefit that you’ll find college assignments much simpler and your degree will make you stand out against other candidates with vocational qualifications only!
2. You can take courses to progress in your current job role
You may feel as though you have studied everything that there is to know in your chosen field, but the reality is that workplaces are constantly changing and their staff need to will need to adapt so as not to get left behind. Many colleges offer computer courses to teach you how to use the latest programmes, as well as CPD courses that allow you to update your skills and knowledge as part of your role, some of which can be done online via distance learning. For instance, if you work as a teaching assistant and a child starts school with a particular disability or learning difficulty that you have not experienced before, your local college may offer a relevant course.
For instance, Understanding Autism courses are currently popular with those who work in the education sector, in addition to their existing qualifications. Similarly, if you want to progress in your current role, you may benefit from returning to college. For example, you may work at an assistant level and studying a course in management skills could further your skills and help prove your suitability for promotion.
3. College may offer the same higher qualifications for a fraction of the cost
If completing your degree left you wanting more, you could continue your education at college. Most further education colleges now also offer higher education awards in association with a local University. For instance, you may not have to go back to Uni to gain a PGCE to become a teacher. Instead, you may be able to study for one at a local college. With smaller class sizes and adult students of all ages, colleges provide a more relaxed environment to further your studies.
Not only that, but a huge benefit of taking a University level course at a college, is that they are usually significantly cheaper. For example, a full time, one-year PGCE at Teesside University costs £6150. However, its part time, two-year equivalent course, taught at colleges around the Teesside area, costs only £1980 per year. So if you’re not in any great hurry, you could save yourself over £2000 in student debt!
4. You can continue to learn in your local area
If you moved back home, moved elsewhere or even started a family after University, the thought of going back may not appeal or even be possible. Instead, you can continue your learning at a community college in your local area. This means your studying will be cheaper and easier to fit around your schedule, with less travelling to and from your place of education.
It also means that if you take a course with a work-based element, like a PGCE, your practice and assessments can take place in your existing workplace or you can find a relevant one local to you and your college, rather than being placed somewhere near to the University. All of this means less stress and more time to spend at home studying, which is definitely a major benefit of studying at a local college after University.
5. You can meet new people and develop your confidence
If you’re someone who enjoys meeting new people or even if you struggled to come out of your shell due at Uni, going back to college gives you the opportunity to meet like-minded people of varying ages, from all different backgrounds, in a friendly and less overwhelming environment.
Smaller class sizes, a more laid-back approach and supportive staff who have more time to spend with their students than University lecturers, can also help you develop your confidence – particularly if your course includes an oral assessment and you tremble at the thought of having to present to a large audience! If nothing else, it gets you out of the house and doing something constructive that can only improve your career prospects, rather than wallowing at home worrying about your position as a jobless modern-day graduate.
As a graduate still stuck working in retail and currently pursuing a career as a teaching assistant, these are just some of the benefits of going back to college after Uni that I have found during my own experience. It is important to remember that whatever you do, you should always pursue something you enjoy and don’t let anyone tell you it is beneath you.