I wanted to start my blog by officially introducing myself and telling any potential readers about the reasons behind my return to study. BUT, I imagine that would be really boring and predictable.

Instead, I’d like to tell you all about my shock at being the oldest student in my Public Relations class.

Initially, PR as a course appealed to me because of the transferable skills it could offer. Coming from a long stint of employment I like to think I know what potential employers are looking for and I’m sure PR skills such as presentation, organisation and communication are up there.

After already attending my English lectures and making friends with a delightful group of older students, each with their own families and other commitments, I was surprised when I walked into a PR class full of younger students.

At 26 I’m not exactly middle aged, however, I expected at least some older students to be there. Especially with the skills PR can offer towards career development and advancement.

After I’d recovered from my initial shock I began to wonder what is putting off mature students and why more aren’t applying to study Public Relations? Most of my older uni friends have a clear career path in mind, and I would say that 90% of them have returned to university to get into teaching positions. Is this the only reason that PR remains a young persons’ game?

I would say that a major contributing factor is general lack of awareness. Without insider knowledge it is difficult to define PR, especially against similar disciplines such as marketing or advertising. Without knowing what PR entails it is difficult for potential students to realise the benefits of studying it, even if a career in Public Relations isn’t their ultimate goal. This can be said for students of all ages.

There is a plus side though, with the development of communication technology comes a new era for the PR agent. A wider understanding of the role Public Relations plays is beginning to emerge, with a clearer message about its goals and objectives.  Gone are the days of the spin doctor. With this new definition of PR as the protector of reputation and gatekeeper of communication more people are realising the potential of a PR degree.

As these numbers grow I’m hoping to see more mature students enter into the field of PR. It’s not a course for young networkers wanting an easy ride. It’s an opportunity for creative, hard working people to carve out their own career path in one of the most rapidly expanding industries of our time.

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10 thoughts on “Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

  1. Enjoyed the blog …..really interesting to see the ‘mature’ student angle ….think improved careers guidance in schools required if there is to be a push towards promoting PR as a university option. Evidence suggests the teaching game is only a stop gap measure for many graduates..40% drop out rate… will they end up in PR we ask ourselves?

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    1. I agree, although it’s been a loooong time since I had any kind of career guidance. I found there was a big push towards ‘safe’ career options (science, teaching, health and social care, etc.).

      Not sure what it’s like in Yorkshire but most of the mature students I know got into the wrong careers for them straight after school and have decided to go into teaching. Primarily taking English combined with another subject.

      To be quite honest that was my original intention when I decided to return to university, choosing PR for the employable skills as my minor. After studying it I found it to be much more complex than I originally thought, and very applicable to any office or business based role where communication is an important factor.

      This is why I’m surprised that more mature students who may already possess a good knowledge of communication or customer service through prior work experience aren’t using a PR qualification to expand on this.

      This is why I believe it’s an ironic lack of clear information about the discipline that is leading to confusion and a reduced number of mature students compared to other subjects.

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  2. Really good post, Lauren! I also like the mature student angle, I always wonder about going back to uni one day but, considering there were an awful lot of mature students on my course, it’s interesting to read about it from this perspective.

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    1. Didn’t you finish your degree Laura? What would you want to do?

      It’s a lot harder when you’ve got other responsibilities. No matter what your age. Sometimes I think some younger students don’t really take this into account (especially when you have to do group work!). Hopefully some of my posts will help to dispell some of the stereotypes and associations of mature students.

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      1. I did finish the degree but without honours because I didn’t feel up to completeing my fourth year having lost the passion I once had for the discipline. I feel like I chose the wrong course for all of the wrong reasons and would have been better off sticking with my strengths and genuine interests such as English, Media or Classics.
        Having completed one degree of study as a typical younger student I feel I would be more prepared if I did try it again but I definitely look forward to reading more from your point of view.

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      2. You should go for it. I’m really pleased that I’ve gone back as I’m enjoying it a lot more now that I’m doing it for the right reasons.

        Yes it’s stressful trying to juggle everything and my personal hygiene has definitely taken a downhill slide through lack of time, but I love doing something I love.

        I’m doing English with a minor of PR so if you ever want to talk about it you’re more than welcome to pop round for a cuppa and look over my notes.

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      3. I think I probably will one day, I want to do my TEFL course and things first and do some gallavanting as, the way I see it now, the more I see and do the better equipped I’ll be to make a better decision.
        I think I’ll take you up on that offer, aslong as we watch Frozen though, because I don’t think you see enough of it 😉

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      4. That sounds amazing. I wish I’d done that B.P. (before Penny). Then I remember I get really homesick and generally dislike most people.

        Of course we can. It’s pretty much on constantly. Think the DVD is on the way out through overuse but I can recite it verbatim.

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      5. Ah see I don’t mind being away from home, particularly if I get to go all Dora in Asia, I’ll befriend the animals.
        Oh no! Good thing I have my own copy too then isn’t it?

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