Let’s say there are no more steps to climb up your corporate ladder and you feel like you’ve reached the ceiling. Or even worse: you’re not passionate about what you’re doing anymore and you’d like to explore other avenues. How will you be able to study for something new when you have financial obligations to your family or lifestyle?
We speak to Port Elisabeth-based career advisor Frank Mzothi on the study options available for you and the pros and cons of studying while you’re employed.
• In-house training: This is usually good when your company is supportive of your career growth path. The company may help you find courses that are suitable for you, or even assign a senior colleague to mentor you. When you’re ready for that promotion or a switch to a different division, they know your strengths and would be understanding when you’re still adapting in your new role. In-house training is necessary to help employees develop and use the skills they need to adapt to changing workplace needs.
• Distance learning: The advantage here is that you can study from any institution that offers online courses – including the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. But ensure that whatever course you choose from any institution will be recognised in SA. You’ll have to do proper research on the institution before you register. Unisa is widely recognised in this category.
• Part-time studying: This means attending classes either in the evening or on weekends. One of the advantages is meeting like-minded professionals and you can even form effective study groups. A downside is that it may take you a while to finish your studies. Most universities and institutions of technology offer this option.
The advantages of studying further:
• You may still be able to maintain a decent lifestyle compared to full-time students who don’t yet earn a salary. If your studies are in line with company goals, your employers may even contribute to your tuition – but that varies from company to company.
• If you’re studying in the same field you work, assignments could be easier for you as you have experience of the subject matter. Concepts might be a little easier to grasp, too. Your analytical, practical and problem solving skills would have be honed due to your work experience.
• You’ll learn to use your time optimally. You’ll soon learn how precious time is. Whether you’re at the airport or waiting for a friend at a coffee shop, you’ll learn to use your time optimally – finishing that assignment or polishing up on your study material.
• You could take a financial knock. You’re not likely to get a bursary or grant anywhere other than your employer. Chances are you’ll finance your studies, so be prepared.
• It will take longer to finish: It may take you longer to finish your studies when enrolled part-time compared to full-time.
• Juggling full-time employment, family and studying part-time is a huge challenge. If you don’t manage your time well, you may see yourself dropping out, having a serious fallout with your spouse or partner, or even failing to meet your employer’s expectations.