This can be a really contentious issue. Many of us would love to study full time but simply cannot afford to because of existing financial commitments. But there are options, you could work part time if you think you would still be able to fulfill your study commitments, you could save over a period of time to take time out to study full time or you could even study alongside your full time job via distance learning.
For others still studying would rather be avoided, which is also fine, it just might limit your career choices or impact your entry level pay. Having said that there is a lot to say for practical experience and working your way up the career ladder is both exhilarating and rewarding, marking it a huge achievement.
To help you decide which pathway is best for you work your way through the following three sets of questions for each career option on your shortlist:
1. How much does the course cost (excluding distance learning)?
2. How much does the distance learning course cost?
3. How long is the duration of both versions of the course?
4. What would be my monthly living expenses?
5. Do I have enough savings to afford the costs involved? (look at both classroom and distance learning options)
6. If I don’t have enough savings how many hours would I need to work at minimum wage each week to afford it? Is working for that time conducive to the amount of study I will need to do? Is there an option to study part-time where the course is stretched out for longer but I would be able to work part-time without it distracting from my studies?
7. What is the entry level pay after finishing my qualifications?
8. What is the top salary for people with these qualifications?
Studying alongside a full time job pathway
1. How much does the distance learning course cost?
2. How long is the duration of the course?
3. How many study hours are advised per week?
4. Would I realistically have enough time to complete the course?
5. Am I being realistic with how much time I can dedicate to my studies?
6. What is the entry level pay after finishing my qualifications?
7. What is the top salary for people with these qualifications?
1. How much is entry level pay without any qualifications? What is the difference between this and the entry level pay after doing the qualifications as I outlined in my ‘study pathway’ and my ‘studying alongside a full time job’ pathway?
2. What is the top salary for someone without any qualifications?
3. How long realistically before I work my way up the career ladder to my desired level of pay and responsibility?
4. Can I manage financially whilst I am working my way up and if not can I rely on my partner or family for financial support in the meantime?
Did these research questions help you clarify whether you wanted to study or not? Which pathway came out as your preferred option? Did the questions reveal anything surprising? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, support and insight from our community, we’d love to hear from you.