As a result of Covid and lockdowns, many prospective students have put their degree dreams on hold, negatively impacting on their life options and employability. However there has been massive growth in the number and quality of online learning options, which means that successful study is within the reach of anyone, regardless of education level or age.
"The world has changed so much, and whereas online learning in years past has been seen as the preserve mostly of those who had to earn while they learn, now it has become an attractive option for a greater range of people who understand the importance of lifelong learning and growing their skillset," says Cynthia Olmesdahl, Online Strategist at The Independent Institute of Education's Vega.
She says the quality and logistics of online learning have developed exponentially in past years, not least last year as a result of external pressures arising from COVID prevention measures, and that this has had a major positive impact on the learning journeys of online students.
"As the jobs marketplace becomes more competitive than ever before, and the need to upskill becomes increasingly pressing, it's good to know that it really is never too late to get your first degree, a postgraduate degree, or embark on a short course, as the offering continues to increase. After last year, many more people have the necessary resources required for online study," Olmesdahl says.
She notes that while having a degree or postgraduate qualification puts you on track to go after the career you really want, the thought of entering the student world can be intimidating for people who feel they're either too old, or too busy to commit to further study.
"A degree is no longer just the status symbol it was considered to be before, it really has become the gamechanger every professional needs to open new doors in their career. People of all ages are starting to realise the importance of furthering their education."
For those sitting on the fence about furthering their education, Olmesdahl notes the following:
1. LIFELONG LEARNING IS NON-NEGOTIABLE
If you think studying is reserved for people in their late teens and early twenties, think again. Your maturity and life experience mean that you’re probably in a far better position to truly reap the benefits of higher education. Keep in mind that a degree isn’t just about earning a qualification but about opening your eyes to a greater understanding of the world around you and building a network with like-minded individuals. The same goes for those who may have already completed their studies and believe that studying further isn’t necessary. If Covid has shown us anything, it is that you constantly need to be resilient, and constantly evolve and adapt to changing demands in the world of work.
2. ONLINE STUDY IS MORE ATTRACTIVE THAN EVER BEFORE
Online studies have always provided students the freedom and flexibility to learn at their own pace at their own place. This mode of study makes even more sense now, given that the global environment remains volatile and uncertain. Studies can continue regardless changes in personal circumstances. “Many people prefer online studies because it gives them the ability to learn in their own time from wherever they are in the world. The online students we work with are based around the world, from Tanzania to South Korea, China and the UAE,” says Olmesdahl.
Online studies through a reputable institution means that it is no longer a lonely, isolated endeavour. A good institution will ensure that the learning journey is interactive and engaging, brings out a student’s creativity, and helps to establish a solid foundation for business communication through enthusiastic lecturers who have solid and current real-life industry experience.
3. NO NEED TO PAUSE YOUR LIFE FOR YOUR STUDIES
If your everyday responsibilities, like your job or spending time with family, are keeping you from getting a degree, there is the option of studying part-time. While it may be challenging to juggle, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience both personally and career-wise – you can apply the knowledge and skills you learn through your studies to your role in the workplace to broaden your understanding and expertise. This allows you to pay off your studies as you go, instead of having to worry about the cost of studying full time.
4. MORE CANDIDATES MEAN GREATER COMPETITION
Whether you’re hoping to improve your chances of landing the career of your dreams or want to make greater strides in your career, studying towards a degree will boost your chances and help you gain an edge over other candidates. Having a degree doesn’t just mean you’ve managed to successfully pass a few modules, but that you’re capable of thinking strategically, having developed a range of skills that are valuable in a team and within the workplace.
5. SELF-ACTUALISATION LEADS TO FINDING YOUR PURPOSE
You may believe that your current job or career is the only option for you, and you may have spent many years believing that this role is the right one for you, but what if your career were to be even more fulfilling? Ask yourself, do you truly love what you do, and are your contributions meaningful to you and valued by your company? If there is any doubt in your mind, then you owe it yourself and your future to take steps to find a fulfilling path that brings you joy. A degree can help you discover where your passion and purpose lie, and open doors to a range of new opportunities.
Olmesdahl says that a first or a postgraduate degree opens doors to new opportunities and even new industries.
“Life is too short to stay stuck with no prospects of realising your personal potential. Getting a degree puts you on the fast track for success – opening your mind to new industries and worlds, and helping you find the career that truly fulfils you. Own your path and find your purpose.”