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Studying abroad after 30: fears and opportunities

Many people think that studying abroad after you’ve turned 30 is a precarious affair. “It’s too late, I will fail, it’s expensive, I have no spare time” - and a million excuses more.

You may expect to experience problems with delving into the study process, but it may turn out much easier than you think. In this article, we will shatter some myths and fears related to being a mature student, and tell you what steps you will want to take.

Fears of prospective students

No one enters colleges after 30. This is just wrong: not only fresh high school graduates apply to colleges. Moreover, sometimes getting into a university is easier than it may seem: many education facilities want to admit students with work history, and internship and volunteering experience.

I will be an odd bird. Many adults study in universities. Of course, the majority of students are those who just graduated high school, but each faculty has at least one person over 30.

I fear the unknown. It is hard to shift your lifestyle and return to a university, especially after a long break. Leaving your comfort zone is always scary, but it spurs growth and change to the better.

I will fail, wasting my time and money. If you don’t play, you can’t win. If you have a goal, pursue it boldly. 

Advantages of studying after 30

Employment. After studying in a foreign college, your chances to find a top-paying job in our own country increase drastically. Many employees strive to employ specialists with a prestigious education and fluent foreign languages. Another option is not to return home after graduation, and look for employment where you studied. Local education and internship experience will work in your favor.

Relocation. Immigration through education is one of the reliable ways to leave for permanent residence abroad. Foreign universities have rigorous selection processes to find the best specialists, and foreign states are committed to retain the skilled workforce.

Opportunity not to work. Many prospective students dread trying to combine work with study. If you work hard and come prepared, you can receive a scholarship, and take some time off, without the necessity to earn your living.

For example, in Czech Republic, if you know the official language, you can apply for tuition-free education. The universities of Norway provide акк education in Norwegian and English languages.

A student admitted to public universities of France or Germany has to pay only the annual fee in the amount of EUR 100-500. You can also win a grant for studying from various scholarship programs — Chevening, Erasmus Mundus, or DAAD.

Networking. Master’s program, postgraduate program, or MBA are an excellent place to find new friends and make acquaintances that would help your advance your career. Many students enter these programs at mature age.

Understanding your goals. In mature age it is easier to understand what area of work you really want to pursue. Some choose a totally new profession, others choose new areas within their general sphere that were not available in the universities earlier. 

Bachelor’s program

You can apply for entering a bachelor’s program when you turn sixteen. Usually there is no upper threshold - only several countries introduced age limits.

For example, in the USA it is hard to enter a bachelor’s program after 29. But this limit varies depending on the particular university requirements, and competition between students. For example, in 2007 a 95 year old woman obtained a bachelor’s degree in Fort Hays State University, Kansas.

In Turkey you can enter bachelor course until you turn 21, in Pakistan - 22, in Hungary - 29, in Malaysia. In China, you can apply for an education grant only until you are 30: only several universities provide free education for students aged over 30 - for example, the Ludong University .

Master’s program and postgraduate program

Foreign countries set no upper limit for receiving master’s degree education, and the lower level depends only upon the term of completing the bachelor’s program. Universities do not care why you decided to apply in mature age: what is really important is how the course you choose will help you achieve your career goals.

Getting a Ph.D. after 30 in a foreign country is quite a common thing. Some problems may arise only when applying for an education grand or a scholarship, as the postgraduate candidates selection process is usually quite stringent.

Scholarships not depending on your age

After you turn 30, you still have an opportunity to receive a scholarship for studying abroad. The first one in the list below is granted only for master’s degree programs, the others apply to all degrees:

Valeriya Aleskandrova, 39 years old, a StudyFree mentor, a 1st year Master’s student in the University of Macerata, Marche, Italy.

I work in the educational tourism area: before the pandemic started, I helped students go to English-speaking countries to study. Spring restrictions and Moscow lockdown prompted me to go studying again.

My parents worried about me, but extended their support. In 2020 I entered the Master’s degree program in International Tourism and Destination Management at the University of Macerata, and went to Italy.

Now I am getting a long-distance education in English for a nominal tax of EUR 156 per year, alongside working and studying Italian.

I like the Italian education system: the study term is two years, but you can extend it to four (including the internship), and you can retake exams several times.

Equal attention is paid to theory and practice: for example, you may need to plan a tour, or perform a real company case study - contacting the company in the process, and striking up useful acquaintances.

Entering a university after you turn 30 may be a daunting experience, but it has the potential to change all your life to the better. Remember that your best investment is in yourself!

Author: Katerina Drozdyuk


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