Graduate Tanya Kendall offers advice to students why there is no limit to when you can study for a degree and enjoy employment success.
Mature students may worry that they're too old to make the grade, but focus and motivation can lead to extremely successful results. It is amazing what a bit of fire in your belly can do. Knowing what you want out of a course, you are better able to deal with the ups and downs that are inevitably part of studying at a high level.
I have always had a desire to gain a tertiary qualification and tried many times to complete a degree. I had attempted finance, nursing and midwifery but my studies continued to be interrupted by the birth of my children! I was committed to being a full-time, stay at home mother. My focus was only on my children.
In April 2012, at the age of 34, I fulfilled a childhood dream and travelled to New York City. I remember standing in front of the New York Stock Exchange and having an epiphany. I decided, there and then, that I was going to recommit to my studies and become an accountant.
I returned to Australia and enrolled in a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Australian Catholic University (ACU).
I first heard about ACU through friends. I was interested in studying nursing and heard that ACU nursing graduates were the most highly regarded in the profession. I had enrolled to study nursing in 2003 and midwifery in 2010 with ACU, so felt the natural progression was to return to ACU when I decided to study commerce.
One of the main draw cards for choosing ACU was the community engagement subject that is offered as part of the Core Curriculum. It resonated with me that ACU finds it integral that we not only regard ourselves as corporate citizens, but as socially and ethically responsible citizens too.
I started my Commerce studies in July 2012.
When I stepped back onto campus I was invigorated. I was ready to change my life. There were no nerves, no anxiety and no fear, just determination to succeed and a will to achieve my dream.
With that will and accelerated learning pathways I realised my dream in June 2014, when I completed a commerce degree. I was honoured with the University Medal for the Law and Business faculty and was quickly snapped up for a two-year Finance Graduate role with Suncorp. I have a career. Not just a job, but a shot at building an empire. I’ve secured a pathway for the future where I can provide for my family and continue to develop as an accounting professional.
But there were many challenges along the way. The most significant was finding the hours in the day to dedicate to my studies. Balancing the demands of life, my children, my husband and housework as a full-time mother with the demands of a full-time university study load was difficult, so I did university work at night once everyone else was in bed. I spent two years subsisting on four hours sleep a day (if I was lucky).
The ability to prioritise and manage conflicting deadlines is imperative, along with the ability to be single-minded in the pursuit of your goals. I had a mentality that “Failure is not an option”. That helped me remain motivated and focused.
If you are going to make the commitment to study at a tertiary level then make sure you have a great network of support people around you (at home AND at university). I was thrilled with the level of support that was offered by the lecturers at ACU. I built a great rapport with all of them, found them all extremely approachable, and willing to help and provide guidance as needed. I regard them all as friends.
The best piece of advice I can give anyone considering returning to study is to choose a field that you are passionate about. Make sure you do what you love. There are a multitude of avenues that you can take to get you to your desired location. The options are endless. Don’t be disheartened. There is not just one road to success. If you want to achieve your goals, you will find a way. Ask for help. Seek advice. Research other entry methods but above all else… follow your heart. Study what you are passionate about. Love what you do and do what you love! That will be a life well spent.
Tanya Kendall graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2015.