It has been a very long, very tough academic year. My return to full-time education last year was one of the biggest career decisions I think I have ever made.
I completed my undergraduate, a BSc. Management, in DIT in 1994. I then came to NUI, Galway to complete the postgraduate Diploma in Marketing Practice. I had always planned to return to full time education to complete my masters but I never imagined for one moment that it would take me twenty years to do it.
Last year I found myself perusing the NUIG postgraduate prospectus, only half thinking about returning to do my masters. Purely on impulse, I went along to one of the universities postgraduate open days. Initially I considered sticking with the business and marketing field and completing my masters in one of those areas. However I spent the last twenty years working in the business arena and having ran a small business through the boom and bust I was looking to do something a little removed from the profit and loss side of things.
At the open day I came across the Masters in Journalism stand and I spoke to Bernadette O Sullivan, who lecturers on the programme. I was impressed with the content and the really practical aspects of the programme. Journalism and the media in general was always something I was really interested in so I decided to apply and see if I was accepted.
Much to my surprise I was accepted onto the programme. However even then the decision to return to full time education was not an easy one. I am a wife, mother of four and I also help my husband with the family business so I knew this decision would not just affect me but would also impact on my entire family.
I have to admit that in the first week of the programme I was totally overwhelmed and felt out of my depth. In fact in a state of blind panic I went to the course director, John Kenny, and told him that, ‘I was not sure I could do it’. But he was just so calm, told me to take a few deep breaths, and not to think too far ahead: “take it one day and one assignment at a time.”
Also in that first week the university notified me that I has been awarded a €1500 scholarship towards my fees so that was a really welcome boost. I still had moments of sheer panic and self-doubt but I enjoyed every second. One of the really rewarding parts of the programme was meeting and working with my class mates. To my surprise and delight I was not the only mature student on the course. My younger class mates were just a joy to be around full of creativity and enthusiasm.
As for my lecturers I found them enormously encouraging, committed and supportive. They were always there with a friendly word of advice. So to anyone reading this and thinking about taking the plunge and returning to full-time education I say: ‘JUST DO IT’. It is never too late and while the first few days and even weeks may well be a little over whelming if you face down your fear it can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
It has definitely opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me and I am hooked on learning. I am now, much to my own surprise and my poor families dismay, applying to undertake my PhD.