Monday, July 18, 2011

If you learn, you grow

If you learn, you grow. (to quote the National Geographic ad)

“Why am I doing this?” is a question I keep asking myself.  “What are you going to do with it when you are finished?” is what everyone keeps asking me.  Mostly I answer that I don’t really know but that is not completely true.

I was keen to study pharmacy but the notion of five more years of being a student did not impress me when there was money to be made and a social life to support.  I sort of fell into computer programming which only required a short course and had good earning potential.  This suited me and I did well. After about five years I ‘retired’ to raise a family which I enjoyed even more and was very happy doing for the next fifteen years or so.  At that stage the children were becoming more independent and I started looking for something else; something to increase or improve my thinking and outlook.  I was helping my husband in his computer consultancy but I no longer found computers and programming much fun.

So in my forties I became a first year student at UNISA.  I registered to study psychology “just for interest’s sake”.  As it is part of a BA degree I had to choose other subjects to make up the required 30 modules so I learnt a bit about law, philosophy and criminology.  Sociology and psychology are my major subjects.  Most have been interesting and felt worthwhile; a few were a little tedious but I have enjoyed the challenge and the gains in knowledge and insight.  At times it is difficult to complete all the work necessary to complete assignments or prepare for exams.  The secret is definitely consistent effort other wise you get too far behind to catch up and end up cramming and not really learning what you need to know.  One side effect of being a ‘mature student’ is the strange reactions you get at tutorial classes  On arrival people make way for you and assume that you are the tutor.  I often arrive at exam venues and find, myself sitting next to one of my children’s friends which is a little strange.

Now as I near the end with only one more semester to complete my BA, the questions become a little more insistent.  Actually a BA on its own is not a job qualification; rather it is the foundation to a study path.  In order to become a registered counsellor one must complete an Honours degree and then six months internship.  To become a psychologist requires an invitation to a Masters degree course and one year’s internship. So ……. do I continue on this journey or stop here and just enjoy the qualification and knowledge already achieved?  Would a newly qualified counsellor be employable if she is in her mid-50’s or would self employment be the only option?  There are definitely plenty of questions but answers are harder to find.  For now I guess I will just keep my head down and see if I can finish on a high note by getting really good marks on my last three psychology modules.  I hope that 2012 will bring something new and exciting and not the end of the world as has been predicted.  Whatever happens, I feel that I have gained a lot from the studies and would recommend it. Regardless of ones age, knowledge is never wasted.  If it turns out that I study no further and never actually use this degree directly for some form of employment, it has still been worth the effort and sacrifice.  It is perhaps not the best idea to delay your tertiary education until you are in your forties or fifties; I would definitely tell school leavers to get straight in to higher education if they possibly can but if not, then take the opportunity whenever it may occur.

Here is a good bit of advice from T. H. White - The Book of Merlyn

“The best thing for being sad," replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder in your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewer of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then—to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it.”

Editors note: This is a guest post and not always the opinion or view of the blog or its owners and related parties. As a result no action can be taken against such parties

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