5 Reasons I Went Back to University

by Apr 12, 2019

In you had asked me ten years ago to return to university to undertake postgrad studies, you wouldn’t have been able to pay me to do it.

The early years of my undergraduate journey were filled with tears, confusion, and a lack of direction. I jumped from course to course, I made little to no attempt to build connections with my peers, and I often felt isolated and disengaged. After jumping from a journalism degree to focus on a course in arts, and then somewhat reluctantly landing on a Bachelor of Commerce as my home base – I felt as though I may never find a degree that was truly suited to my skills and values. Once settling into my major of HR, I charged my way through to graduation, vowing to never set foot on a university campus again.

As they say, life has a way of playing tricks on you, because you can now find me working at a university full-time (and loving it), and smashing my way through a postgraduate course. Whilst this combination of responsibilities requires me to have the time management skills of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve – I feel truly fulfilled for the first time in my educational history. Making the decision to take on further study was not an easy one, especially as I had to weigh up the opportunity costs involved (most notably – would I still have the time to listen to my never ending library of true crime podcasts?)

After some deep reflection, and binging my way through The Teacher’s Pet podcast, I realised there were five key drivers that encouraged me to dive into this challenge head first.

1. Upskilling

aerial image of circuit boards with coloured wires everywhere

After studying, and working in a field that didn’t feel quiteeee right, I knew I was ready to take on a different type of work. When I landed my current gig at UTS, I found myself drawing on the transferable knowledge and insights I had picked up from my previous role. Whilst this information proved to be very useful, and it absolutely granted me access into my current career, I quickly realised I was craving a further level of knowledge that would only come from formal study.

There is no doubt that we are constantly learning from any job we do, whether through conversations with like-minded people, or adapting to feedback from peers and managers. For me however, there came a point where I wanted to go deeper into my area of interest, and develop new technical skills by jumping into a postgrad course.

2. Networking

Three people sitting around a table with laptops open, laughing

It was only after I graduated from my Bachelor’s degree (with a non-existent network), that I appreciated how beneficial it is to connect with those working and thriving in your desired field. Taking on postgrad studies means I have been granted a second chance to right my networking wrongs… and you better believe I am giving it my best!

I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by a team of passionate and dedicated professionals in my current role, however, I now not only soak up my team’s goodness – I also take the time to connect with fellow students as a way to fast track fresh ideas and perspectives. By discussing assignment feedback and sharing relevant insights on LinkedIn with my new community, I feel motivated, connected and excited to learn!

3. Resources

Pile of books

Another key reason I leapt into further study, was to gain access to up-to-date content in my field. Having cutting edge academic research at my fingertips, and gaining membership into a new professional association have both scratched my itching desire to keep up to date with industry trends and best practice.

By staying privy to academic developments in my area, I am able to actively contribute and share innovative insights and learnings with my co-workers, and apply these theories into my day-to-day work too. By using the theoretical knowledge gained through study, I notice my work has become far more nuanced and layered.

4. Credibility 

Photo of woman's torso with hands holding a mug that reads 'Like a Boss'

I know from firsthand experience that ‘imposter syndrome’ is a real thing that plagues the workplace from time to time. Sometimes I catch myself thinking ‘why would THEY listen ME?’, or repeating the limiting belief ‘I don’t know anything…about ANYTHING’. I can recognise that these thoughts are not useful, and most importantly – they are not completely true! (As I mentioned, I know A LOT about true crime podcasts).

In all seriousness, going on to do further study has given me the confidence to believe in my own expertise, and has equipped me in feeling both credible and trustworthy. Whilst this niggling sense of low self-confidence is normal as we transition into a new field of work, doing extra study has armed me with a strong elixir against the dreaded ‘imposter syndrome’.

5. Doing me

Girl sitting on cliff edge with her back to camera

This is perhaps the most important reason I went back to university. It was a decision I made for myself – not for others. There was no pressure from my manager or family, and I have never felt the need to impress anyone, or get a certain grade to be afforded living allowance. I WANT to do it , so I do.

It is extremely powerful when we make a decision that comes from a place of autonomy. For me, this has meant I have a high level of accountability and motivation, and that I am accomplishing the results I sometimes struggled to achieve during my Bachelor’s degree. I have also noticed I haven’t shed a single tear this time round… that has to count for something!

Aerial flatlay of black open notebook, phone, laptop, pencil, glasses and plant

Going on to do postgrad study was an equally exciting and scary decision. There was much to consider: the time, cost, and effort required. However, after getting over the initial shock of wanting to go back to university (this was honestly very unexpected), I realised there were 5 (maybe 5 and a half) key reasons it was the right time for me put my head down in the books once again.

I was ready to upskill, I wanted to expand my network, I was keen on gaining access to interesting resources, I knew my confidence in my credibility would increase, and it was a decision I made on my terms.

(Plus, true crime was making me paranoid anyway!)


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

By Sarah Marlor

By Sarah Marlor

Recruitment Advisor

Sarah is a driven HR practitioner with employment experience spanning across talent acquisition, on-boarding, customer service and career advisor roles, so it is fair to say that people are her thing! With a bursting enthusiasm for helping individuals work towards being their best selves, Sarah brings a passionate vibrancy to her current role as a Recruitment Advisor at the University of Technology Sydney.