Is It Too Late to Go Back to University for Me? Looking for Personal Experience, if Any Available

Hi everyone,

I am 31 years old and working in FinTech industry.

I started studying bachelors of Accounting & Finance at the age of 20 and soon realised that I will never work in that field so I never finished it. I still have one semester to go.

I really want to study Bachelors of Computer Science and get into programming languages. Am I too old? Has anyone here done an undergraduate degree after at my age? How did you manage the work + study system?

I am sure my work would be okay with me working part time. I might even be able to fit my tutes into one day and do the course full time given i should get credit for some of the subjects.

Just not sure on what to do! I could potentially learn programming without the degree but would that even be beneficial for my career?

So confused.

Comments

  • +20

    My wife went back to uni to do nursing at age 38. You'll be fine.

  • +24

    if i was you, i would personally not go back to school until AFTER you do some of those free programming courses (like https://www.theodinproject.com) and see if you actually like doing it

  • +3

    I'm 34 and I am about to begin my second year. 1st year was a tertiary preparation program and this year is when I begin my actual course.
    But there are people in the course who are both younger and older than me.

  • +4

    If you’re Interested and motivated to study , I don’t think you can be too old. I’m going back to uni this year and I’m in my early thirties. I also had someone complete their degree at the same time I did several years ago who were in their sixties.

  • +2

    Is it too late to finish your first degree? It seems a shame not to.

    • +7

      Nah, degrees have an upper bound on the amount of time you can take to complete them.

      My degree was 3 years full time, or 6 years part time, total allowed completion time was 8 years from date of enrolment.

  • +5

    Well I've just embarked upon the journey you've described, went back to Uni at 31 to study Computer Science whilst still working full time and graduated last year. Overall I'd recommend it if you're certain about the degree you want to study.

    As others have already stated, if you simply want to learn to program in Language X then there'll no doubt be a plethora of online resources which will teach you how to code in a particular syntax. Computer Science is more geared towards teaching you how to approach a problem and break it down into steps which can be solved by a computer, in other words how to turn a real-world problem into an algorithm, which is a more valuable skill than programming alone IMO.

    • +1

      Well I've just embarked

      That should read "Well I've just completed" - can a mod hook me up because the edit window looks to be closed :D

  • +1

    Never too old. At least you are trying to not be a bum.

  • +5

    Went back to Uni at age 30 to get the LLB I had always thought I wanted.
    It was hard to get a job as a mature-age grad in a competitive field but eventually found something.
    Been doing it now for 17 years or so.
    I guess it was worth it - but only because I have no idea what else I would have done.

    • Ditto, what's missing is how such a degree changes your worldview and the personal value such a change holds for you…

  • Im in my 40s, decide if you need the degree and if you do and want to pursue this do it now.

  • +1

    Didn’t do it at 30 but I was a mature age student. I loved it, I was more motivated, more mature, more settled, got good job offers at the end. My suggestion is look into courses you are interested in, find out exactly what they teach, find out the job prospects in the field, work out if you can dovetail with what you already do, find out all the costs and crunch the numbers. Having the work experience puts you up on the graduates but you won’t be the fresh young face, i.e. they realise you might not work 17 hour days. Best of luck

  • +1

    Working full-time, over 40 and living in country area that offered no Bachelor course in IT, I opted for part-time remote study via Open Uni. I planned and completed one unit per study period over 6 years without fail, paying it off along the way. It depends on how motivated you are to do a programming courses outside of Uni, as Uni financially motivates you to study deliver assessment items and pass exams.

  • Many people don't even finish their study until 30 or after if it's a PhD, you won't have any trouble.

  • Never too late - Go for it.

  • +3

    Take a look at what you want to program, it's a pretty broad field.
    At 31 with a chunk of work and life experience you're much more likely to find something that you want to do by examining the parts of your work / life that you've got the most out of and look at developing those by adding something you're interested in (programming).

    If it's something you like that is fintech related, datascience comes to mind, then all the better if you think this might be good. Also the benefits of finishing a degree with experience in that field!

    Don't look at it as starting again, you're adding to your skillset. In most industries you do this your entire working career, by gaining experience, working in new places on different projects, attending internal and external courses etc.

    Good luck

    • Thank you for pointing outs the positives I missed out on. Definitely going to look into data science.

      • I really want to study Bachelors of Computer Science and get into programming languages

        Why bother if you’ve already got a job. You can easily ‘get into programming languages’ by watching online courses and doing projects. If you feel the need to do actual CS course just see if you can take some core course like operating system, distributed systems, maybe a few database and fist level programming course.

  • +1

    You're never too old mate! Go for it.

  • Hell yeah, not too old.

  • +2

    Uni as a mature aged student is a good thing. You're there because you want to be there and you're interested in the material, and you have life experience about meeting deadlines and communication.

    Consider leveraging your current FinTech experience into entry at post-grad level based on your work experience. You don't HAVE to have an undergrad degree to go straight to post-grad study. You can be considered based on your work/life experience and its relevance of your proposed course. Check out the uni's alternative entry pathways site. Further, if you continue your employment and your study is in a tangibly related field that is likely to lead to advancement in that field, the fees may be tax deductible if you pay upfront. Check the ATO website for details.

    The suggestion above about considering data analytics is a good one, and maybe a good bridge between your work experience into post-grad uni study. Courses can be more flexible than they seem, so something that builds on your current experience and transforms into where you want to go may well be possible. Ie. Data analytics with extra computer science units within. If you find a course that is mostly perfect, ask the uni about swapping out the stuff you don't like with specific units you're more interested in from other courses.

    The great advantage of post-grad study is that you don't have to commit for 4 years straight up. Great for gauging your time, cost and interest levels. You can choose to commit to something really short like 1-year part time to gain a Post-grad Certificate of something, and if you hate it you can quit there with a recognised qual, and if you love it you can explore a post-grad diploma or masters degree (but not necessarily the same exact field- this is where you can migrate towards the topics you love with better eligibility having just completed related study).
    In my experience, post-grad study isn't necessarily harder than undergrad. Many of my units were done in the exact same room/material/students as the undergrad version of the same unit, with generally one or two extra questions in assignments and exams being the only difference.

    • I didn't even know my work experience could count towards credits for my course. I always thought you needed under-grad to study post-grad. Mind = Blown. I need to investigate this further.

    • +3

      Listen to this person. Very good advice. My personal experience, I started uni as mature age at 39. Di a BSc and never looked back. Better job, better money and a fantastic experience - oh and a [email protected] of hard work. One thing, if part time mature age pick your degree based a lot on ease of access. You will be juggling contact time with work, friends and family and if you have a big bit of travel it can make it much harder.
      Also, if you do it make it your priority. NEVER miss a lecture, tutorial etc. NEVER. Miss one, the miss another and a few weeks later it becomes really hard to get back.

  • +1

    Never too late to go back

    Whether it is the best path if you want to learn programming (or any IT) is another matter…

  • +1

    I am about to go back to university at 35, however, due to my work experience I can bypass the computer science degree and proceed down the path of:

    Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security (3 units)
    Graduate Diploma in Cyber Security (3 units)
    Masters in Cyber Security (6 units)

    The key benefit being this can all be done online now and each unit goes for 7 weeks, so I can space the units as required (as I have a family with small children). If worst-case scenario this isn’t for me I can finish up with a grad certificate.

    • +1

      Hey would you mind sharing details on where?

      • +1

        This is at ECU in WA

        • I'm looking at doing the exact same thing. Can I ask, do you have previous programming experience already? I guess my problem is deciding whether to do a more generalised Master in IT or specialise in Cyber Sec

          • +1

            @jasong: I dabble in lots of languages dating back to all the websites I made in HTML in the '90s. I am 'competent' with python and a few others, however, the vast majority of my experience is with SQL, having been involved in technical design and build of integrations between applications in a consulting capacity.

            Somebody told me to remember that these universities are a business and if possible they will find a way to make it work. After expressing interest ECU kept calling me every few weeks to see if I had any questions / was ready to progress. I felt even if I was less experienced I could still have scraped in. If this is the path you want to go down go for it!

            I am doing this with the expectation that I may not immediately move careers as I am already senior in the capacity I work in but may open pathways to me moving forward, as I certainly do not see myself consulting for the rest of my life. When the right opportunity arises it may mean moving backwards before I can move forward.

            • +1

              @Baa: Thanks for the background and that information.

              Admittedly ECU have been constantly calling me too since I expressed interest, so I see what you mean about universities being businesses.

              While I don't have as much experience as you (I dabbled in websites from early 00's), I don't feel I'd be out of my depth with either of them, but I'm at a different career stage to you. So while expectation are low, I'm almost using it as a platform to accelerate my future career.

              From what I'm researching, it would seem either IT or CyberSec would both be good choices looking at industry forecasts. I'll keep doing more research, and if I register in to this one I'll let you know so then perhaps if there's group projects it'd be a little easier to find someone, hah!

              • +1

                @jasong: For sure, keep me posted how you progress.

                The units are in 7 week blocks, and you can space them out if required so no reason why you cannot do some prep prior to the course work.

                Depending on your specialisation you can go down the analyst (more technical) or governance which I believe would not require as strong as technical background.

                • @Baa: Well, I've decided not to go ahead with this one and instead do a Master of IT with CSU (which has a cyber sec specialisation). I figure for me it would be far more beneficial at this time, especially with the goal of a career change.

                  Hope it all goes well for you though!

  • +2

    Hi OP,

    I am 25 years old and currently studying a Bachelor of Computer Science. I finished a Bachelor of Commerce with an economics and finance major and realised commerce was not right for me, so after taking two years off I came back to University to study a Computer Science degree.

    I just want to say if you have the money I would consider a masters course in IT or computer science as it can be a shorter course but as in-depth as a bachelors course. (From speaking to my friends)

    If you value learning programming a bachelor of computer science is great however it can be really challenging and requires a lot of study. I spent 2 years off studying and learning something brand new was super challenging and the course at my university is difficult so I spent a lot of time studying, more than my fellow peers and still barely scraping a low distinction.

    However if you want to work in the IT industry a bachelor of IT will do just fine. It may not equip you with the same programming skills as a computer science degree but it will land you a decent job. Also Australia values experience over grades, ( assuming you have above average or average grades) so given that you are a mature aged student with experience use that as an advantage to land a decent job that you want to do.

    At the end of the day if you are financially ok to start studying again, and you do not have major family commitments coming up you should be fine. I am working 3 days a week, and attend university 3 days a week as well. I have not found any issues, however I had to make sacrifices in other areas. No more Netflix, no more gaming and no procrastination.
    Make sure you set up time to study and don't go out partying a lot etc…

    Hopefully if you are good at time management and understanding your priorities, studying again could be a great idea. Also you are NOT TOO OLD! You're never too old to do anything. My mum is in her mid 50s and she started and finished her diploma. I was able to draw a lot of inspiration from her. Instead realise that because of your age you were able to gain more experience and make wiser decisions that could make you happier in the long run.

    hope that helps

  • +1

    Went back to Uni and received my MBA aged 54.

    Hard work, but my work/life experience gave me an advantage over the younger students.

    However, I cannot stress too heavily the need to develop good time-management skills and block out the world while you are working.

    I did mine at UniSA, which has a load of on-line study, lots of student/facilitator interaction plus face-to-face sessions.

    Arranging group projects was the hardest part.

  • if you can fund yourself go for it

  • +2

    I just want to acknowledge that I appreciate this forum so much!

    I have received valuable information & a few options that I didn't even know existed.

    I didn't even know I could leverage my work-experience and get straight inro Post-graduate study. That's something I will be investigating now.

  • +3

    I am feeling so positive and pumped. Thank you so much for taking the time out from your life and helping out a stranger on the internet! I am going to investigate all my options and try to make it in the March intake!

    I AM SO EXCITED!

    • I am pushing for March here too, more nervous than excited though. Has been a long time since I studied outside of some Udemy courses.

      Picking up a few of these courses prior to starting might help a little, as this help me brush up on some on some things I am a little rusty on.

  • Why would it be too late? Your age is irrelevant. The only question is if you can fit it in. If you can, go for it

  • The missus graduated with a double degree in Business and IS when she was 21. Went back to uni to complete a masters in Psych/ social work when she was 24 and 12 years later submitted her Phd thesis in Maths. The experience was different each time and it got harder once the kids came along and we had a mortgage to pay but she doesn't regret going back to uni. Like my FIL says, it's never too late to find your calling in life :)

  • You're still relatively young, and it's never too late to study and enhance or switch careers. I went back to uni at 44 to do a masters by coursework, and loved research so much, I did a doctorate, and have been working at universities ever since. I chose to do it on campus full time as I was older, initially working full time, too, but there are great options for fully online courses, particularly at masters level, e.g. UniSA Online, Open University, etc.

    Even if you don't get academic credit for your previous work experience, it stands you in good stead in areas like problem-solving and developing research projects and connections.

    All the best with this new phase of your life.

  • I went to University as a Mature age student in 1990 at the age of 30 to do a BComp Sci. I have had an amazing career in both Government and Private industry since. Your real world experience will stand you in good stead when applying for jobs after you finish and the opportunities are massive. Good luck.

  • Just keep in mind that doing the degree, will not guarantee u you more work opportunities, companies still prefer years of work experience over qualifications, which is why so many people with their master’s are still looking for their “ideal” job. Also most companies will chose younger staff with experience over older applicants. I know its not politically xorrect or fair, but that's how ive noticed things in the IT field.

  • I don't want to rain on your goals… BUT programming jobs in Australia are difficult to find. It's very easy now to hire a programmer in India for app $5 per hour. That makes it difficult for companies to justify hiring locally and makes it hard to find a pure programming job that pays well.

    To get into a programming job in australia needs cross skilling. For example you can hire a Java developer really easily in India, but finding one that knows local Australia industries well and can operate at a higher level than just programming is really hard. So if I were to give you some advice - I'd be looking at leveraging your experience in industries other than computers, to create an opportunity for you to get into programming.

    It may be easier to "Slide" into programming using your current career as a stepping stone. For example seek out a product manager type role in FinTech or whatever indusry you are currently in and start directing some programming projects.

    In my experience when we hire people, a degree is great for filtering out college grads and picking the best ones to bulk hire. But for senior people, I would not care what degree they earned 10 years ago, I'd much rather drive the hiring process from their recent experience and their personality.

  • I started uni when I was 44 (was a brickie) & did BCompSci, and ended up working for IBM. Did it online (UNE), but as I lived in Armidale, I attended class when I could.

  • +1

    If you want to get into development/ programing from my opinion, I wouldn't even bother going to university. Do a coding bootcamp.

    I am an IT Manager meaning I manage several teams of developers, but I am also heavily involved in the intern program at my organisation. The intern program takes in people from a number of different background - degrees, personal learning, coding bootcamps. The ages also start from early 20s, all the way to late life career changers. Once these enter the intern program, there is very little difference in their skill. They are all starting from the basics and require extensive mentoring before they are ready to be full fledged developers in teams.

    I would suggest you
    1. Start by doing some self driven learning first. There are numerous free coding courses online.
    2. Sign up for a coding Bootcamp. These are short, extremely intensive full time courses. There are a few options - Coder Academy - 6 month course, General Assembly 3 month course etc. These are often expensive (say $14,000), but you come out with basic coding skills - enough to get an internship, or entry level role.
    3. Don't expect that you will be able to get a high paying dev role initially. Coding and programing is extremely complex. The fundamentals are pretty straight forward, but just be aware that it will take take you years to be an experienced senior developer.

    But you should do it anyway!

  • I was 38 when I went back to uni to study engineering. 4 years, part time I should be about 45 when I finish.

    If you are unhappy, go back and study. At least you are trying it rather than wondering about it in another 10 years.

  • Go for it.
    I started studying Bachelor of TechEd at 46, working full time. Weekends at uni 300 KM away (course offered in Melbourne and I live on the NSW/VIC border).
    A couple of roadblocks have come into play over that period, but overall I am getting there. Now 48, I hope to have the degree finished by the time I'm 50.
    Not 100% sure if it is what I want to do until I retire (teaching) but it is better than dying wondering!

  • Lots of people go back to uni at your age. Maybe you can go work 3-4 days a week and do uni online- that's what one of my friends does.

  • I can't believe how many similar cases are out there in the wild. I want you to believe when I say you have taken away every single concern that I had. I thought there might be a bit of judgement or stigma not that I cared but nah!

    The reason why I want to a degree is that I have a massive interest in AI and machine learning. I am okay at maths but I have won a few different comps and a Hackathon at work based on my ideas. It would be such a waste if I didn't put it to good use towards my career. I think I have a bit of programming experience given the exposure I have to all the eCommerce platforms and the API integrations I work on. I have been learning basic Javascript and php to enable myself to understand how things actually work.

    Thank you so much for sharing all your personal pathways. Special thanks to everyone who shared how exactly it has benefited them. I am very excited and explored a few Open University Options and looks like that's the way I want to head.

    Pretty pumped!

    • +1

      Well, if it helps, sharing my personal situation.

      I am 35 already, turning 36 soon. Have been working in my current field (with the same employer) for almost a decade now, feel like I am rusted. I have not upgraded my skills due to various reasons. I have a young family and other responsibilities which took my time away.

      I have decided to go back to studies to study, starting with basic level (not degree) but it is full time studies with full time job and full time family responsibilities.

      I have made my mind, I want to study to match my skills, and I think I can utilise to have a good career in another field.

      Hope this is motivating for you enough to take the step. Don't hold back. Finish your degree first and do another Major in your next field. Try UDEMY, you will find a lot of good courses there.

      Cheers :)

  • You can go back to uni at any time as a mature age student to further your education.
    And its never too late to add qualifications to your name either

  • +1

    I went to uni at 30yo after leaving the Navy and finished four years later with two degrees and got a job.

    You already have a job, so the real question is would the degree benefit your career more than just getting further experience. Remember it'll cost you $20k-$30k and it'll be stressful as hell do it PT. Goodbye weekends.

    I'd just chase up some very specific technical training courses that'll only take a few months. There's a lot of useless stuff taught at uni.

  • Ewww school….

  • J4Jayden: "Just not sure on what to do! I could potentially learn programming without the degree but would that even be beneficial for my career? "
    May I ask what you've done within "financial technology", how long have you worked there, what experience you have programming and what's pulling you in that direction.
    It's not a job i/v, just would like to fill in the gaps.

    • Apologies, just saw this above.
      "The reason why I want to a degree is that I have a massive interest in AI and machine learning. I am okay at maths but I have won a few different comps and a Hackathon at work based on my ideas. It would be such a waste if I didn't put it to good use towards my career. I think I have a bit of programming experience given the exposure I have to all the eCommerce platforms and the API integrations I work on. I have been learning basic Javascript and php to enable myself to understand how things actually work."

      You clearly have a STRONG interest, are GOOD at it and SHOULD pursue your goal.
      Remember when the going gets tuff, the tuff keep going and aim to make a difference.
      Good Luck.

  • +1

    Absolutely not too late!

    TLDR: You might not have to go to Uni to get a developer/programmer job, online learning resources are now vast and up to date. Also maybe even see if your current employer has any positions they can offer you to transition into.

    I've found development/programming jobs interesting when it comes to Uni - I don't think there's anything wrong with going to study at some sort of Uni or Tafe, but it might not be necessary depending on what sort of job you're looking to move in to, and the sort of passion you have. Some backstory of my opinion:

    I am passionate about programming, and self-taught myself some of the fundamentals via YouTube and other websites (way before Udemy and other online learning resources became a thing).
    Since I didn't finish VCE, I went to Tafe to get a Cert IV in IT Networking (Cisco related stuff), then used that as a stepping stone to get into an Associate Degree of IT - similar to Computer Science, but not quite as extensive.
    I hadn't even finished my Associate Degree when I found a position as a junior Mobile App developer at a company, applied and got it. The fundamentals I had learned myself with demonstrating my willingness to learn more seemed to suffice.

    The very first thing I noticed in this position, was that basically 0 of the programming skills and theory I had learned at Uni applied in the "real world" of development, which made me regret studying in the first place.
    This may well be dependant on the course you take and which institution, but so far each person I've spoken to in similar positions as I am have gone through or thought the same.

    I don't think studying at Uni is a bad thing necessarily, you will learn the fundamentals, but if you're passionate about the field and enjoy learning on your own, then a few online courses on Udemy or YouTube might give you more up-to-date and relevant knowledge.

    Good luck!

    Edit: Forgot to mention, my current employer did not care in the least what Uni courses I had done, they only wanted to know what I was capable of.