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Making a decision to return: from pre-contemplation to success

When we make decisions such as whether we will return to education after a period away, we go through stages of decision-making before taking action.
As you have found this course, and have reached this stage in it, you must be curious about the possibilities of returning to education and how that might work for you. It may be that you have reached a point in life, or have had a critical life event that prompts a change or new direction. This can feel daunting and is certainly a brave decision that can bring endless reward and opportunities. Returning to education becomes a gateway to that new life as you will hear from our students and support staff. During the late 1970s Prochaska and Di Clemente suggested that we all go through a cycle of decision making as we change our current circumstances or behaviours.
They offered the Stages of Change as a way of moving from a place that we feel doesnt fit us anymore, to a more preferable place.
These stages are: Pre-Contemplation; Contemplation; Preparation; Action; Maintenance; Relapse and Termination. Using returning to learning as an example, during the pre-contemplation stage, we are only consciously thinking that education is for smart people, that we wouldn’t be able to do it, we don’t have the time with all of our other commitme nts, we can only just about manage financially as it is; and who would look after the children if we were studying? At this stage, education is not a consideration, but we may consider going to an open day at the local college to support a friend as they are nervous. We are unaware at this stage that our unconscious is at work.
At the college open day, we listen as the tutor tell our friend about the course, what interesting subjects that will be on offer, what time commitment is likely to be required, and what financial support there may be available. You like the atmosphere, being in a learning environment for the first time in many years didn’t feel as daunting as you thought it would be. You pick up some leaflets to take home. At home, before you know it you are checking out the college website for further information; could education be for you after all?
As you move through the Contemplation stage to the Preparation stage, you may start talking to family members about the possibility of starting a course, how it might work, what would need to be different in your current routines. You may explore support networks such as grandparents helping out with school runs, looking into after school clubs, or talking to our boss about changing working hours. By this time you can now see returning to education as a distinct possibility and decide to book an appointment to talk to a college advisor, or apply for a course. You may start to look into how you finance the course.
You may even consider relocating to a city where the local college or university offer the exact course you had always wanted to do. The next stages of the change model takes real effort, determination, passion and vision to work through as once we have made the decision to act, we must maintain our earlier commitments or we may find that we fall into the Relapse stage. Once we are settled into our new learning environment we will have found support systems such as our class peers, tutors, academic support, or any number of other support systems to help us avoid this stage, and to see us through to the Termination stage.
This is where we are confident enough to know we won’t relapse, our new behaviours have become permanent; returning to education has turned us into a lifelong learner. There is no going back now. The opportunities for us and our families are now endless.

During the late 1970s Prochaska and Di Clemente suggested that we all go through a cycle of decision making as we change our current circumstances or behaviours. They offered the Stages of Change as a way of moving from a place that we feel doesn’t fit us anymore, to a place more suited to our ambitions, no matter how conscious we are of that at the time.

After you have watched the video, consider a time when you have made a significant change, that you can now relate the stages to.

Please share your thoughts.

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Returning to Education as a Mature Student

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