My story: Why I decided to start my degree at 33

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Sibongiseni Siqila on starting afresh by going back to school. Photo: Supplied
Sibongiseni Siqila on starting afresh by going back to school. Photo: Supplied

Imagine having to drop out of university studies in your first year because of finances. Then finding a stable job and you wake up and realise 10 years have passed. 

Your plan of going back to school has been postponed so many times you decide to take the plunge.

At 33, you decide it’s time and you apply for your first year in BA studies and prepare yourself to be one of the older students in your class.

And then Covid-19 happens and the plan is slightly shifted.

This is what happened to Sibongiseni Siqila, who decided to go back to school this year after 10 years.

It’s been an interesting time and it might be a mammoth task, but it’s doable, she tells Drum.

Don’t let age stand in the way of your goals, she says.

Read more | Selling kotas helped this woman pay off her university fees

“The sooner you start the better,” says Sibongiseni. “I think the biggest problem with older people is thinking, ‘I’m too old and it will take too long.’ When either way whether I start now or next year within three years I will either have a qualification or not.”

Sibongiseni, who wants to be a data scientist once she finishes her studies, tells her story.

"The first qualification I applied for was an Accounting diploma back in 2006. I was young and not that dedicated to school back then. So I passed my first year, but because of personal and financial issues I couldn’t go back the second year.

"My mother and I decided I will come back home and apply for the next year. I ended up missing the date to apply for the next academic year and within three months of being home I found a job at a bank.  Ten years later working for the bank, I never went back to studying."

She always intended to go back to school but finances were a factor. 

"So if you are financially able to pay for your own qualification or your work place can fund you then do it. Start with a certificate to test the waters, start now and don’t procrastinate.

"When the opportunity to do a certificate in advance banking services came about last year at my job I decided that it was something, a good place to start."

"Start with a certificate to test the waters, start now and don’t procrastinate"

After she finished that short course, she decided she wouldn't stop now and registered to do a Bachelor of business administration qualification at Milpark education.

It's been fun but strange juggling school and work. It helped that she's not married and doesn't have kids, she says. 

"The biggest challenge will be that you are working. Time management becomes a big thing. You have to set out a proper timetable to manage your time well. I also had to cut down on certain things I did over the weekend.

"Above it all you have to be focused. I used to love spending my weekends doing nothing, just relaxing. I had to adjust to taking one day out of my weekend to do something school related. So there is a lot of discipline that goes into it, something I didn’t have when I was younger."

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