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Our Admin Lead and Marketing Specialist, Flick, gives her advice about finding the right course for you…

“How do I find the right course for me?” I hear this a lot! There are so many courses available out there it can often feel like finding a needle in a haystack.

Don’t worry. We’ve got a magnet to help your search!

In this month’s blog post I’m taking a look into how you can find the perfect course for you. This might not mean a course that’s with us, and that’s okay, we are passionate about your future. Yours. Not ours with you.

Let’s take a look at that magnet:

“It’s the passion which keeps us alive”

Do you have a passion for a topic? Start there. It seems like such a simple answer for where to start but it really is that – simple!

I recall when preparing to do my Independent Study (Dissertation) for University, my tutor said to us “pick a topic that you love. If you don’t love it at the start, you won’t finish it because that mild interest will turn to hate”. This is what has been the driving force for me since that day. If you’re not interested in a subject, you won’t commit to it!

So start with your interests – have you recently read something which sparked your interest? Have you heard of a job that sounds interesting to you but you know you’d need qualifications to get it?

It’s no good trying to be interested in what other people are interested in. I’ve known people who try to be interested in something because other people are and it just doesn’t work out. It ends up causing them either heartache or headaches. My advice – steer clear of trying to do this!

You’re in control of your course decision. Not everyone was born to be the next Stephen Hawking – if you’re not interested in physics, don’t try to be! Be true to yourself. And if you don’t know what interests you, research!

I personally got into the job I wanted to as I loved the idea of being in an office with my fingers dancing across the keys… I had no idea WHAT sort of office I wanted to work in. I just loved the idea of hearing keyboards clacking and my high heels clicking as I walked across the office to the coffee machine. So I went for a job in administration, and I’ve learned and I’ve grown since that point!

It’s the same with your search, have a starting point. An interest. A passion. Build on that and there’ll be no knowing where it might lead you!

Your time is precious.

We are all busy people in our own right. Whether you’re the sort of busy person who watches Netflix all day, or are the sort of person who never seems to sit down, your time is important to you. We understand this.

You’re not going to want to enrol on a course which doesn’t fit with your schedule. You like doing the things you like. So why enrol on a course which is going to take you away from those things?

Just as the above, if a course takes you away from the things you like to do, you’re not going to enjoy it. You’ll end up resenting it. And, you’ll (most likely) drop out of the course to go back to the things you enjoy!

Trust us, we’ve seen it happen! People enrol on a course and then, because they have to choose between their morning yoga (which they’ve been doing for 12 years) and the course, they choose the yoga – rather them than me, personally! (I’ve never been that flexible)

So once you have found a course which interests you, make sure the course fits around you and your schedule. Yes, you may have to move a few things around to make time for study, but so long as you don’t have to stop doing the things you love to do, it could be the course for you!

Nobody like to be taken away from the things they enjoy!

“It’s all about the money, money, money!”

Yes, unfortunately, not all courses are funded nor free (insert sad face emoji here). So you need to consider the financial implications of the courses you are looking at.

One of the first questions to ask yourself is “How is the course paid for?”

Enable has a wide range of courses which are free to people living in certain areas, or who are out of work. But it’s no good applying for these courses if they don’t fit with the above two points… signing up for a course just because it’s free doesn’t make it the right course for you! This is why cost is the third thing you need to look at.

Some courses will operate on a sort of “Buy Now, Pay Later” option. For example, our Access to Higher Education courses can be paid for with an Advanced Learner Loan which you don’t pay back until you are earning over a certain threshold OR, if you head off to University after completion, the loan is replaced by your Student Finance loan.

We also have courses which will gain you qualifications and work experience while you continue to claim your Universal Credit/Job Seekers Allowance, such as our Traineeships. So while the course will not cost you anything directly, you will be earning while you learn, it also counts towards your Universal Credit/Job Seekers evidence.

Yes, there are courses which we (and other providers) offer which you do have to pay for. It’s always worth asking the question of the business how much they cost. You might need to think about these a little more – will gaining a paid for qualification get you a promotion or a job which will bring in more money to your household? If so, in my opinion, then they are worth the outlay!

No business will begrudge you saying that they cost of a course is outside of your budget. Ask the question. Most training providers will be happy to answer your questions about their courses.

Location. Location. Location.

Maybe this is a higher priority for you than 4th in the list… feel free to swap it to where you think it comes in terms of priority.

For me, if the past 12 months have shown us anything, it’s how to work, learn and socialise remotely. From the comforts of our own home, under a blanket, in pjs if needs be! We all know how many businesses have adapted throughout the pandemic – if you don’t, I’d suggest you go and check their social media pages; we’ve all been shouting about it!

So many courses used to be unavailable for people; you can hardly expect someone from Penzance to attend a 9am training course in Newcastle the next day… but some courses are still location based. You need to look at this.

Online courses are great, but some will return to classroom based learning. This is why you need to check which they are and are they a reasonable travel distance for you?

If they’re not, that’s okay, you need to keep looking. I can almost guarantee that once you know what you are looking for, you will be able to find a course which is within a distance you are willing to travel.

The courses are out there – start searching!

One final thing to think about…

If you’ve been able to answer the above questions for yourself, you’ve probably found multiple places that offer courses which you’re interested in… so, how do you choose between them?

Look at the training providers themselves. You’re probably looking at their website, so take a look at their “about us” section. Hopefully this should tell you more about who the business is, and you should begin to get a feel for the company and if you would enjoy learning from them.

Some training providers are very professional in their approach and that works for many people, others are more relaxed and less formal which people may not like.

At Enable we are the latter, we aren’t what many would describe as a “formal” charity. We like people to get to know the whole team behind the business. We are a small charity with only a handful of staff, so this approach works for us. It can be difficult for larger organisations to achieve the same level of formality as us (don’t get me wrong, some do manage it!).

It’s all about what works well for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask the training providers questions such as:

  • “Who is the tutor for X course?” – Do they have a segment on their website introducing you to them?
  • “What contact would I have with the tutor?” – Is there a WhatsApp/Facebook group for you to speak to other learners and the tutor?

You need to know that you can work well with the provider to get the most from your course.

Following these simple steps should help you find the right course for you. Always remember to put what you want first. It is, after all, your course and your learning. You should want to get the most out of it.

In short; plan, research and ask questions!

The more you know the better you can make an informed decision. The more informed your decision is about your learning, the more likely you are to achieve your dreams and goals.