How to get back into education

When you’re in school choosing your GCSEs, not many of us take into account the impact the subjects we choose will have on our lives. We take for granted that all jobs expect us to have decent grades in the core subjects e.g. Maths and English, and that to get into university you will need to have the right scores. Instead, we plod along not taking in the seriousness of the situation.

Now, I’m not saying everyone is like this. Some of us know from a young age what we want to be when we are older, and as such pick the right subjects and work harder to get the right grades. However, when you can envisage where you’ll be and what you’ll be doing once you’re an adult, it is easy not to fully apply yourselves.

Likewise, you can never anticipate when the urge to change career paths will fall upon you, and as such the qualifications you have may no longer be relevant or suitable for helping you to get a job.

So what can you do? Should you stick with what you know, or can you change your circumstances to suit your new situation?

Returning to education is possibly one of the easiest routes you can pursue should you discover that the grades you have aren’t sufficient enough or that you don’t have the right qualifications. By returning to college and university – or embarking on an online course – you can change the direction of your future and get on the path you want.

Getting Started

It is one thing to say you want to go back to school and get better grades, and it is another thing to make it a reality.

You see, when you are a teenager, legally you have to go to school until you complete your GCSEs. The choice is arguably taken away from you. It is only once you finish your GCSEs that you truly get to decide if you want to continue learning or if you want to enter the workforce.

Now for many of us, the idea of re-entering the classroom is a daunting one. After years of being away from regimented timetables, homework, exams, and assignments; to suddenly find yourself back in this space again can be intimidating. For instance, you forget how regulated and structured it used to be. Nor do you remember how long you spent learning and studying. But the reality is, you spent the equivalent of a working week (7 hours a day) at school for 39 weeks of the year.

And this prospect can be off-putting for a lot of learners, especially when you factor in the other responsibilities you have in your life e.g. children, a job, and paying a mortgage/the rent. Take all of these into consideration, and it is not always as straightforward as you’d like. 

That is why we suggest taking the following course of action:

Step One: What do you want to achieve?

You need to ask yourself – what is the goal behind your going back into education? Do you want to study a new course to enable you to apply for a job, or do you want to improve your existing grades?

If you intend to boost your grades in more than one subject, then you need to consider several things:


  • When will you study and complete these courses? One course can easily be slotted around your existing work/family commitments without too much impact, especially if you choose an online course or find an evening class at a college. When you increase this number and introduce multiple courses into the equation, then you need to bear in mind how much time you will be committing to each subject. Is it still possible for you to work, or would you benefit more from attending actual college classes?


  • Up until the age of 18, full-time education is free. After then, any courses you want to do – whether they be an apprenticeship, NVQ, college course, online course, or university course, all come with a cost. Fortunately, you’ll never be asked to pay for these courses in full, but you still need to be mindful of the course and whether you can afford it – especially if you don’t plan to work while studying. Likewise, not everywhere charges the same price for courses, so it is important to shop around and see which can offer you the best price package while still offering you the best chances of getting the grades/qualifications you want. 


  • A curse of getting older is that as the responsibilities mount up, you don’t have the same flexibility as you did when you were younger. For instance, travelling or living elsewhere whilst you study.  A big part of the university experience is being able to travel across the country to study the best course in your chosen field. However, once you factor in mortgages, rent, and family; this freedom to study anywhere you want vanishes, as you can’t expect your family to move to the university you want (to attend for the next 3 years), nor would you want to live far away from your partner or children while you learn. As a result, you may be forced to look more locally for an education provider who teaches your course, and sadly they may not be the best one to do it. Worse, they may not teach the course you want at all, forcing you to choose something close/similar.

So what can you do?

  • The issue of location doesn’t have to be a stressful one if you look outside of physically attending an institution. For example, if you’re a motivated student who doesn’t need a timetable or a teacher in front of them to learn, then you can explore the possibility of distance learning. Online courses, can offer you the freedom and the flexibility to study on your terms and complete the course you want from the comfort of your own home. You just need to be mindful of staying on track and not falling prey to the habit of putting work/assignments/studying off. You need to be your motivator to get the best results, otherwise, you could end up wasting your money.
  • If you think you can manage your time effectively and keep on top of it all, then distance learning could help you to get the accredited qualifications you want without having to sacrifice your work/family/social life.

Stage Two – Your Study Options

  1. For years we have been led to believe that the only way to get accredited qualifications is to attend a college and university. And it is true, not all courses can be taught outside of these institutions. For instance, if you want to be a doctor, solicitor, or vet, you will need to attend a university at some point.
  2. If your educational aspirations lie more at GCSE or A-Level status, then you have got a lot more choices about where and how you study.
  3. There are a growing assortment of apprenticeships around that allow you to learn on the job within several fields; but you can also gain the same qualifications you would at college, through distance learning courses.
  4. There are online courses that can take you up to a degree level, such as teaching! 

What online courses can you do?

As we mentioned before, online courses come in all shapes and sizes, including:

  • GCSEs and A-Levels
  •  RQFs and diplomas

In addition, they are available in several subject fields, including education, business, health, social care, childcare, beauty, science, administration, the arts, languages, law, media, and animal care.

This means you have got a breadth of opportunities that will enable you to get the qualifications you want on your terms.


Taking the steps to change your fortune doesn’t have to be a hardship. No matter which route you choose – college, apprenticeship, university, or online course – it is possible to get the qualifications you want; boost your grades, and pursue the job of your dreams.

Just make sure to do your research first; assess the cost, timing, and location, and make sure you choose the best route for you. Do all that and you will be set.

For more information on online courses, how they work, and how they can easily fit into your schedule and current commitments, follow this link. 

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