Returning to University at age 25

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For a variety of different reasons, people end up going back to University later in life. I did my first degree in Psychology which I thoroughly enjoyed, however, this degree is limited in career prospects. Because of this, I then completed a Graduate Diploma in Teaching. While this qualification guaranteed me to work as a teacher, I never enjoyed the University course or the line of work. Throughout my short-lived career as a teacher, I would often ponder over the thought of going back to University and starting again. Yet I would always think of reasons that opposed this, because I ideally, I didn’t want to start again. It wasn’t until my third year as a teacher that I realised I could no longer work in the profession; that I didn’t want to live my life unhappy in my career and finally felt the desire to go back and start again.

Once I had made the decision to go back to University, I decided to research what it would be like returning to University as a mature student (although I’m not sure 25 would qualify as being “mature”). I noticed this topic was a search trend on google. Therefore, I thought this post may be useful to any readers considering going back to University in their mid-twenties, and as with most of my blog posts, what the pros and cons of this may be.

Before I delve into the list of pros and cons, I think it’s firstly quite important to establish whether returning to University would be a viable option for you. I believe there are two main factors you need to consider before making the commitment of returning to University in your mid-twenties.

  • Your financial situation. University is very expensive. Many people are already in substantial debt due to previous studies. I think it’s very important to consider whether returning to University is worth the financial burden. Personally, I believe that if you are truly unhappy in your career, then you should change your situation, despite the financial liabilities. However, if you are seriously in debt, you may need to consider other options. It’s also important to find out whether you qualify for any allowances. In New Zealand, if you are 25 and over, you may qualify for a housing allowance, as well a supplementary allowance. While the allowances aren’t much, it is fantastic in the sense that it almost allows people to take a second shot at getting their careers right without having to reach too far into their pockets. Also, if your future career offers a decent salary, this should also be taken into consideration. As a teacher, the salary was relatively low, however, as a dental hygienist/therapist I will be earning almost double what I was a teacher, so this alleviates any stressors of having a small student debt once completing my new degree.
  • Putting your life on hold. When you decide to go back to University, you not only have to put your life on hold in a financial sense, but also personally. If you have a partner and are wanting to start a family, these plans may need to be delayed. Raising a child and attending University won’t be an easy option. However, if you are single, or have a partner, but no plans to settle down in the near future, then you are in a great position to return to University.

If you have made your decision to return to University, fantastic! I have been back at University about a month now, and below are what I have found to be the main pros and cons of returning to University at age 25.


  • Increased work ethic. When you’re older, you tend to have less of a desire to socialise and “party”, compared to when you were in your early twenties. All of that is probably out of your system, and as a result you are able to become a lot more focused on your work and motivated to achieve high grades. I have found that I have a much greater work ethic than ever before.
  • Increased confidence. The majority of people at University are around age 18-21. I find that with age, you become more confident in yourself and less concerned as to what people think of you. At age 25, I feel a lot more confident speaking up and do not feel intimated by people that I may have been when I was younger.
  • Feeling better suited to the career path and with your classmates. People tend to know themselves better as they get older and become more self aware. Once you have figured out a career path that is best suited to you, you may find that you fit in better with the ‘crowd’. As a student studying education, I felt no drive and no passion towards the profession and I did not fit in with the crowd. While I should not generalise, I will admit that the majority of people on my teaching course were very loud, extroverted and arty. I remember everyone being so enthusiastic when singing nursery rhymes and demonstrating lesson plans, while I felt completely awkward and uncomfortable.  I have always been introverted and quite a logical/structured person. I find that a lot of people on my current course also possess these personality traits and I see this as being a huge indicator that I am on a career path much better suited to my personality.


  • As mentioned before, there are financial consequences of returning to University, as well as having to delay certain life plans.
  • Comparing yourself to others. All of my friends are now working full time, earning an annual salary, being able to save and travel abroad. I sometimes find it frustrating knowing that I will need to wait several years before doing these things again and sometimes feel as though I am slightly behind compared to my friends. Yet, when I hear someone speaking about being unhappy in their job, that tends to reassure me that while I may be behind, it is still worth starting again and getting my career right.

Overall, I definitely find that the pros of returning to University at age 25 outweigh the cons. If you are thinking of returning to University, just make sure you do your research in regards to the financial aspects and find out whether you qualify for any allowances. While returning to University and putting your life on hold may not sound ideal, it’s important to look at your life in the long run. Getting your career right while you are still young is easier than starting again much later in life.

Do High School’s really prepare students for University and the workforce?


Choosing what to study at University and what career path to go down, is one of the most significant and life-changing decisions a person can make during their lifetime. It is now expected that our generation will reach retirement around the age of sixty-seven, meaning that on average we will spend fifty odd years in the workforce. For that reason, it is so important to make the right decision when choosing a career. But at the tender age of eighteen, do we really know our selves well enough to make such a pivotal decision? And do our educational systems really support us in making these decisions?

During my final two years of High School there were two weeks, just two weeks, dedicated to learning about the workforce in a practical sense. My High school education did not prepare me any way, shape or form for the world of work or for University. In these career classes, we were never taught the necessary basics. I had no idea what a “bachelor’s degree” meant, or what a “major” or “minor” were. I didn’t know the meaning of a “graduate diploma”, “certificate, “thesis”, “masters”, or “PhD”. Without being taught the basic university terminology, how was I supposed to set out my degree.

Another problem with education today, is that students aren’t being told the whole truth. We live in a society that has a tendency to only consider one side of the coin. If the other side of the coin is a bit taboo or goes against social norms, ideals and expectations, then it is swept under the rug and kept under wraps. We can look at two examples of this:

  • being taught to “follow our passions”; to follow our dreams and we will succeed. This is a notion I find slightly problematic and misleading. We often read articles and hear motivational speeches of people who have set out to pursue their passions, how they have tried, tried and tried again. Failed and tried again. And eventually, they make it. Not only do they make it, but they make it big. Society uses these successful figures as prime examples; to reinforce to us that we should follow our passions and we will succeed. But is this realistic? Unfortunately not. Society doesn’t teach us about the other side of the coin. We don’t hear motivational speeches of people that have tried, tried and tried again, and failed. Speeches and articles about people who have lost everything, and are now spending the rest of their lives trying to rebuild a life. Schools won’t teach us this reality because it goes against the social ideal of following our passions. I believe that the highly successful figures that have made it big in the world can somewhat be a little out of touch with reality. Yes, I do believe its important to work in a field you are interested in, but it is equally as important to be made aware of the pros and cons of following a “risky” passion.
  • Another reality school’s don’t teach pupil’s is that arts degrees will not guarantee you a job. Because schools teach us to follow our passions, they then can’t go and tell us that we should think twice about doing an arts degree, as it goes against what they teach us about following our dreams. Arts degrees are risky because they don’t necessarily lead to a specific job, and may not guarantee you with a work by the end of your studies. Arts degrees may equip you with a random set of skills in say history, or sociology, anthropology and so forth, but unfortunately, there aren’t many jobs out there that require such a skill set.

I studied psychology through a bachelor of arts for my first degree, and loved it. I had found my niche, and it was through this degree that my love for science developed. However, at the end this degree, I didn’t know what to do. My qualification hadn’t led me anywhere, and my future was uncertain. I then decided to undertake a graduate diploma in teaching, as I knew it would lead me down a route where I could actually receive work. So even though I initially followed my passion, at the end of the day, it didn’t get me to where I wanted to be in life, hence, I had to re-start again and take a more realistic approach.

Schools also don’t teach us about the alternatives i.e. a gap year. If you are eighteen, you don’t know yourself or what to do with your life, one valuable experience you could undergo is the experience of a gap year. Travelling alone is invaluable, it will help you to grow and discover yourself – your likes, dislikes, personality traits, interests and so forth. When I left High School, I didn’t fully understand what a gap year was and had no idea that it could even be an option. In hindsight, taking a gap year may have been beneficial to me and I wish that we had been taught more about this in school.

If you are a student reading this, about to go onto university, my advice would be to:

  • do research on the pros and cons of the career you are considering, see if it is a career that is realistic and achievable.
  • do research on the type of bachelors you are considering i.e. will doing a degree through the arts leave you with good job prospects, or would it be better to do your major through a bachelor of science or law, if possible.
  • if your school hasn’t provided you with enough practical experience in the workforce, then go out and do it yourself. Go and spend a week in a school, or a law firm and try and get as involved as you possibly can. Use these opportunities to gain as much insight as you can into the careers; what the pros and cons are, what personality traits you might need, what the salary is and so forth.
  • if you really don’t know yourself or what you want to do, consider taking a gap year, maybe even two years abroad. Take some time to travel and learn about yourself in the process.
  • do not rush. Don’t let anyone pressure you into picking up the pace. Take as much time as you need to research or travel. If you rush, you could end up going down the wrong career path and then find yourself at square one again. Major life-changing decisions should not be rushed.

The truth about teaching


Let’s start off with a statistic – 40-50% of teachers leave the profession within the first five years. The significance of this statistic has to indicate that there is something catastrophically wrong with the teaching profession today. There are many inaccurate notions and assumptions surrounding teaching. I believe a large number of people go into the career because of these assumptions, yet quickly find out it’s not what they expected, and not long after, leave the field.

I was one of those statistics. I went into preschool teaching for all of the wrong reasons. I had the assumption that teaching would be a relatively easy and stress-free career, one that would go hand in hand with having a family (back then I was quite family oriented, now I don’t even want kids). I couldn’t have been more wrong. Teaching was anything but easy. It all became too much. After three years in the teaching profession, I decided it was time for a career change, even if that meant returning to University to do another degree (I will now be doing a degree in dentistry).

Because there is such a high teacher drop out rate, I think it’s really important to take a look at why exactly so many teachers leave. Unfortunately, when I was younger I was quite naive and hadn’t done a whole lot of research regarding teacher’s experiences and views of the pros and cons of the profession. I spent half a day at an early childcare centre to try and get a bit more insight, and thought that had made me well aware of what the job entails. But in reality, I was totally clueless. If you’re thinking about going into teaching, I would seriously recommend doing your research. On top of that, go and spend a full week or two working at a school so you can see what it’s really like and make sure you understand the full list of responsibilities that teachers have. The aim of this post is not to discourage anyone from the teaching profession, but to raise some awareness of the difficulties within the job.

Below is a list of what I believe to be the pros and cons of being a teacher based on my experience. Its also important to note that this post will relate mostly to preschool teachers, however, a large proportion of points may also relate to Primary and High-school teachers.


  • Teaching can serve as a means of travel and working overseas. Teachers are needed everywhere. However, I wouldn’t say it’s the smartest reason to go into teaching, because while you might get to travel, you may still be miserable in the job. That was the case for me, I ended up teaching in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Australia, which was amazing, but it never resulted in me feeling happy within the job.
  • The bonds you will make with the children. In every school I worked at, there were always a handful of children I formed incredible bonds with. Those bonds definitely made the job worthwhile. I loved coming in everyday seeing their little faces. I remember my very final day as a teacher, one of the girls I had formed a close bond with told me that she loved me. That was a memory I will keep with me for a long time. So yes, there are moments that can make the job rewarding.
  • Witnessing the progress children make. Not just on an academic level but also on a personal level. I always used to find it very rewarding seeing a shy/withdrawn child come out of their shell and gain confidence, especially when you have helped them in the process.

(Unfortunately, that’s it for the pros! No seriously…. that’s it. Now let’s delve down into the long list of cons….)


  • Preschool teaching is physically exhausting. You are literally on your feet all day. Walking around, monitoring the class, setting up activities, putting activities away. You will be lifting children up and down from things, some children may need to be carried when upset, you may have to spend a couple of hours each day supervising them outside (in the boiling heat in Australia). You will have to break up fights on occasion and you will constantly be cleaning – vacuuming, sweeping, mopping the floors, wiping down tables and the bathroom. Teaching is incredibly physically demanding. By the end of the day you’re legs and feet will be aching and you’ll probably be in bed by 8.30 every night.
  • Preschool teaching is socially exhausting. This was the most challenging factor of teaching for me, because I am more of an introvert. As a teacher you will be interacting and communicating non-stop throughout the day. Not only would I rarely get five minutes of time to sit, but rarely even five minutes of not having to talk or give instruction. You don’t just communicate with the children, but with the parents, other staff and management also. I think the constant communication can be a major struggle for introverted teachers, because unlike extroverts who are energised by social interaction, introverts recharge from quiet/alone time. Unfortunately, as a teacher you won’t really get any moments of privacy or solitude. Of course, you can still be a fantastic teacher and be on the introverted side (I’ve met a few), but I do think it holds far more challenges for introverts because you are constantly being pushed out of your comfort zone. In all honesty, I do think teaching comes more naturally to those on the extroverted and socially confident side, considering that it is a highly socially demanding job.
  • Teaching is emotionally exhausting. When you’re stuck in a classroom of twenty hyperactive children each day, who refuse to listen or follow instruction, you will reach breaking point. There are some days when the children’s behaviour can be so overbearing that you will shout, or break down in tears behind closed doors. Not to mention, having children with special needs or suspected ADHD. It can be incredibly difficult trying to manage all of these children on your own. There is also a lot of pressure from parents and from management, along with the workload which additionally contributes to teaching being an emotionally draining job (this will be further explained in points below).
  • Preschool teaching isn’t overly mentally stimulating. You will be teaching nursery rhymes, the ABC’s, numbers from 1-20. It can get incredibly tedious at times. While the job may be physically, socially and emotionally exhausting, it isn’t necessarily intellectually demanding (which is what I always wanted most in a job).
  • The workload. Unfortunately, teaching is a job that never stops. There is always something that can be done. On top of actually teaching every day, there is a long list of documentation and admin tasks that need to be completed on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. For instance, you might need to write daily learning journals of the children’s day, an observation and learning story for each child, each month. You will have to write reports and reflections. You will need to gather and make resources for all of the children. You will need to fill out detailed lesson planning templates for each week. You will need to show evidence of how your planning links to certain framework and guidelines. You will need to organise and maintain files for all of the children. You will have to plan and get organised for school events. You may need to plan for school assemblies, write scripts and gather resources for them. You will need to go home and mark homework. You may need to spend time each day responding to parent emails. You may need to spend some weekends going to craft shops and buying resources, with your own money. HOW are teachers expected to do ALL OF THIS ON TOP OF A FULL DAY OF TEACHING, which is exhausting enough as it is. It is ridiculous. There is just not enough time during the day to get everything done, not to mention only four weeks of holiday a year. In the last school I was working at, I would often spend half of my lunch breaks completing this documentation because there was never an ideal moment during the day when I could get it done.
  • You will get blamed for everything. If a child is having nightmares, you will get blamed for it. If a child comes home angry or upset, you will get blamed for it. If a child hits, or gets hit, you will get blamed for it. If a child gets paint on their clothes, you will get blamed for it. If a child loses a shoe, or a hair-clip, you will get blamed for it. If a child gets sick, you will get blamed for it. If a resource goes missing or gets broken, you will get blamed for it. As a teacher you really have to develop a thick skin. You will get blamed for things that are out of your control, so you’ll need to learn how to grin and bear it.
  • You may not be treated respectfully. By parents and by management. In New Zealand, the biggest complaint within Early Childhood Education, is that the school managers/directors treat their staff disrespectfully. My teaching experience overseas, taught me that this is probably more of a universal problem. It’s such a shame – one person can have a huge impact on the overall environment of the school and negatively influence their staff’s happiness within the workplace. If the staff aren’t happy then this in turn will affect their performance. It is absurd to me that people in management positions don’t seem to understand this. If you manage to find a job at a school with a nice, respectful manager, I would advise sticking to that school for as long as possible.
  • The teaching environment can get very catty. At times you will feel like you are back in High School. Unfortunately, when you are working in a team of all girls, things are inevitably going to get a bit bitchy.
  • Preschool teaching is messy and unhygienic. You will get spat on, you will get sneezed on, you will get burped on, you will get farted on. Children will wipe things on you, they will get paint on you, draw on you, poke you in the eye and in the ears. You will have to endure terrible smells on a daily basis. On top of that you will have a whole list of cleaning duties (as mentioned in one of the points above). You may need to clean the eating areas three times a day, and devastatingly, the bathrooms too. Trust me, you don’t want to know what a Preschool bathroom can look like.
  • The low salary. As a teacher working at an International school in Asia, they pay is very decent. However, as a Preschool teacher in Australia or New Zealand (probably the UK too), the pay isn’t great. Considering the amount of stress, time and energy teachers put into the job every day, the pay check is not reflective of these efforts.
  • The stigma attached to preschool teaching. I always felt hesitant and embarrassed to tell people I was a Preschool teacher because of the stereotypes and generalisations attached to it. There is the stigma that Preschool teachers are ‘dumb’ and that Preschool teaching is easy. I remember a couple of months ago, someone said to me “teaching is easy, I spent a day at a school, I know what it’s like. Plus don’t you guys only work like 6.5 hours a day?”. Still to this day, that comment infuriates me. If you are naive enough to think that teachers end their working day at 3pm, then you sure shouldn’t be judging how stressful or stress-free you consider the job to be.
  • Everyday is completely different. Children will get into fights, they will break things, they will hurt themselves, they will get sick. You never really know how your day is going to turn out. I would say, I’d usually have two or three terrible days during the week, one or two average days, and just one good day. If you’re someone that likes routine and someone that wants a job that you can walk into each day and know exactly what you need to do, you may find the variety of this job challenging.
  • Constant multitasking. Teaching is a job that basically requires you to have several pairs of eyes and ears. For instance, if I were to set up a painting activity on the table, I would have to explain the rules to the children while also having to keep an eye on the rest of the class, shout out to the children that are becoming a bit rowdy, while also trying to pay attention to the children at the table and make sure the water doesn’t get spilled. The amount of multitasking we are supposed to do all day can become overwhelming, and frankly not humanly possible. Its not an ideal job if you work best with having a specific focus.
  • Teaching does not go hand with having a family. It would be exhausting having to run around looking after other people’s kids every day and then having to go home and do the same for your own, in addition to the high workload. If you do some research online, you will find that being a teacher and a Mother is not an easy or an ideal combination.

There you have it. In the three years of teaching, I found that there were only three pros to the job and a extensive list of cons. If you are thinking of going into teaching, please, think twice. Do you’re research, spend a significant amount of time volunteering at a school, and figure out whether you have the right personality traits for the job. If you are unhappy in the job (as many teachers are), then maybe you should consider other options. Get a job in another field, or go back to University. There’s nothing worse that living your life doing a job you loathe. But just remember, you are never stuck. There are always other options out there. Now that I have left the profession, I feel so relieved and content with my decision. I look back now and can’t believe I even made it to the three year mark. Again, the aim of this post was not to discourage anyone from going into teaching (even though it probably comes across that way), but to provide information, insight and awareness to people thinking of going into the profession. If you found this post useful, or if you still aren’t convinced these are the realities of teaching today, then please take a look at the links below: