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.