Decisions 101: Choosing a University as a Mature Age Student.

This week we are going to kick of a series of posts that go into depth about the decisions you will face when deciding to reset!

I will be going into deciding factors and strategies I took to reach the decisions I made during my journey.

One of the biggest choices you will need to make when deciding to begin, or return to study as a mature age student is choosing your university.


It’s a big decision and it can dictate where you live, mode of study, choice of degrees and your employment and specialty speciality opportunities.

So the first step we need to take is determining how important these factors are and where we stand with them.

For most people where you live is probably the biggest factor.

If you have a family or own a home and don’t want to relocate then staying in the same city may be an easy decision for you.

However, if you are like me and living somewhere you aren’t in love with and have no concrete ties to the location it becomes a much more complicated decision.


The first thing I did was take a look at my personal relationships – both locally and abroad.

Locally I had a few close friendships that I knew if I moved away the most important of these would stand the test of long distance and time apart.

Elsewhere in Australia I have another group of close friends; in Melbourne and and my family are all near Cairns in Far North Queensland.

The other consideration was where I actually wanted to live – in the past I have spent close to a decade in a place I just settled in, and there are a million other places I have dreamed of living.

In the end I decided I wanted to live in one of three places:


Osaka, Japan


Melbourne, VIctoria


Cairns, Queensland

I narrowed it down to three locations that I was happy to live and when I factor in personal relationships it boiled down to just two.

Osaka would have to wait – I was either going to relocate to Melbourne or Cairns.

Still both of these locations have multiple universities and there is always the option of studying externally at a university somewhere else as well.

To decide which of these I wanted to do I spoke to as many people I could that I could in order to develop a basic list of the pros and cons for each option.



  • Freedom of location
  • Flexible hours of study


  • Less structured learning environment
  • Less convenient access to university resources



  • Highly structured learning environment
  •  Convenient access to university resources
  • Surrounded by peers with a common goal


  • Inflexible schedule
  • Locked into a location for duration of degree
  • Increased costs associated with study (e.g. travel)

Using the list above it became easy to identify what I was going to do.

External study gave me immediate access to things I wanted in my long term goals like flexibility of location and schedule.

But internal study would provide me with the framework to achieve even greater academic heights.

I don’t need to achieve my long term goals right now and external study had failed me in the past so I needed a mindset shift and the best chance for success!

It was time to really narrow down what I wanted to do. What university should I enrol in?

I knew when it was all said and done I wanted to:

  1. Create, explore and discover new things and ideas.
  2. Make a difference to the lives of as many people as I could.
  3. Contribute to the long term sustainability of the planet.

Not all fields can offer these things directly, some can in large and small parts. So I settled on several fields that I wanted to study; Engineering, Science, Nursing or Medicine. 

Having narrowed the list down further I spoke to several people who had studied and worked in these fields.

It quickly became apparent that Nursing would not give me the things I wanted nor would Engineering. I couldn’t get into Medicine immediately at any university due to academic requirements, so Science it was! With a long term outlook to transfer into or do a post graduate Medical degree.

After performing a lot of gold medal worthy mental gymnastics I still could not decide on a university – The bright city lights of Melbourne or the sunny beaches of Cairns?

20949590236_5d7393e952_b Cairns_Landscape

The final straw was financial. Melbourne was an expensive place, it would require me to work alot a lot therefore I would not be able to enjoy much of what it had to offer. Cairns and the comfort of home would provide me with a massive financial advantage and would allow me to focus on my studies.

Cairns also came with the added advantages of being surrounded by family for the first time in a decade and I wouldn’t have to travel anywhere to explore the natural world and put my camera to work.

19023379_10155272428335429_1815829241613712415_o 12799430_10153938810315429_5073816948983695750_n 12794587_10153938810330429_4779056037694816720_n IMG_0009

In the end I enrolled in James Cook University’s Advanced Science Degree Majoring in Zoology and Ecology.

James Cook has a reputation for quality and a beautiful campus.

It meets all my criteria for location, affordability, course and career pathways and my first semester is already well under way!

Up next we will be continuing my story and taking a deeper dive into what financial decisions need to be made in order to hit reset.



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