September 2008; I’m working night shift and need something to keep my brain active through the day. So I enrol through Griffith University to study a degree in Criminology & Criminal Justice.
November 29, 2016; I walk out of my final exam and feel strange. I’ve finally finished. 24 modules, and a hideous amount of $$ later, I’ve earned myself a piece of paper.
Where will the degree take me? No idea. I have a decent job so I don’t need to desperately scavenge around for a base-level position to simply get my foot in the industry door and start earning money.
Job prospects aside, I’m rating this as my greatest achievement to date. It took a lot of to-ing and fro-ing. I studied some of the degree part-time, some full-time, and experienced a few gaps in between where I considered stopping altogether. Not because I disliked the content (quite the opposite) but because other parts of life invariably created roadblocks. Studying by correspondence meant zero face-to-face interaction with tutors, lecturers, or fellow students. Motivation had to be sourced day after day after day, sometimes to no avail, and the more difficult assessments would lead to a lot of silent frustration, especially if the online content was limited and the tutor contact minimal.
Sel would argue my frustration wasn’t always silent, and she’d be forced to helplessly listen to me rant about often bleak topics (imprisonment, domestic violence, racism, etc.) without being in a position to offer much back – at least not until she could proofread my assessments which she did often, and very well! Sel had to endure the last 5 years of my Uni life which I’m super-duper grateful for, scheduling things around my study and assignment time, and putting up with me being distant/spaced out/frustrated/aloof, especially come exam time every 13 weeks.
So, will I study again? Absolutely. The completion of this degree has been a long time coming. I’m grateful to do away with the little guilt tripper lodged in the back of my mind every single day when I wasn’t focusing on course material, but I can’t foresee going through another 60 years of my life without adding to my current bank of knowledge. I mean, we can always learn more right?
To anyone who’s well and truly out of school and considering mature-age study but aren’t too sure, do it! Absolutely 100% do it. You don’t just end up with a piece of paper. You learn so much more. How to think critically (in a good way). How to write in different styles and formats. How to read, and comprehend what you’re reading. You learn a lot of useful facts (plus a few irrelevant ones). You learn how to be better organised, and how to motivate yourself, especially if you study by correspondence. You test your own determination and willingness to push through when things get tough. You get the satisfaction that comes with receiving a great mark after submitting an assessment you poured everything into. You get the disappointment that comes with a lousy mark, but a mark that makes the better grades all the more sweeter.
At the end of it all, you’re left holding a piece of paper with five metaphorical words printed in big, bold font:
It was all worth it.