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Welcome to Way Out West your unofficial guide to living, working and studying in the west of the province

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There are several traditional reasons why people decide to study part time courses. For many students, it’s a way to study without giving up a job or abandoning any other commitments. For others, it’s a way to gain new qualifications in the field they’re already working in and instantly apply them to the workplace.

Part time courses can galvanise the skills you already have, make you stand out from the crowd when it comes to new opportunities and career enhancement, or simply give you a new sense impetuous in your everyday work. However, while these are the reasons people have traditionally opted for part time study, as is the case with everything in 2020, new reasons have emerged.

Learning New Skills

In lockdown, many people decided to use the extra time available to them to take up new hobbies, improve certain skills, or even embrace completely new challenges. This came in the form of exercise – running 5ksand using spare rooms and garages as home gyms – cooking, baking or even learning a new language.

This may have sparked further ambitions self improvement and skill enhancement, or simply reinvigorated a thirst for education. If it has, a part time course at South West College could be the next step and could help you continue your drive for new skills and knowledge to the point where it helps you in a future career.

One student who used a part time course to change career path in recent years has been Orlagh Colton, who studied Sports Massage Therapy at South West College, part-time for three years, an educational journey that has helped her open her own business.

Orlagh said: ‘I started working as a personal trainer in 2009 and loved it, but I decided that I wanted to do sports massage alongside it. I found the course at South West College, and signed up for Monday nights, which suited my working schedule, and I completed the level 3 course there. From there I continued on to complete Level 4 and Level 5, so I was at the College for three years, and looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

‘My time at SWC gave me confidence to set up the business I have now. The detail in the course is incredible, and you learn so much. It gave me the stepping stone for everything I’ve done since. Having the option to study part time was essential for me. I couldn’t have afforded to not go to work and my children were still going to school. It also gave me more time to structure my studying. There was only one evening a week of class, so I could spend other free time, away from work or family, to study whatever way I felt necessary, whether that was completing assignments or preparing for exams. It really fitted in with family life for me.’

Keep Warm

Of course, extra time in lockdown also meant a delay in some things, and for many students it put a halt to plans and may even have felt like a roadblock in their educational or career journey. In this instance, a part time course may not be a way to explore a new area, but rather an opportunity to continue or enhance your skills in the area you’re already planning to pursue.

For students leaving school, but delaying University for a year, a part time course in their chosen field can allow them to ‘stay warm’ academically. They can pick up new knowledge and continue to learn even if the current situation has required to take a year out from their previous plan.

Someone who used a part time course at SWC to galvanise skills for their future career was Gerard McCabe, who studied the City and Guilds Level 3 Award in Education and Training. Gerard says, ‘with my impending venture into teacher training on my mind, I decided to undertake the City and Guilds Level 3 Award in Education and Training which was available at the South West College Dungannon Campus. Even though my intentions are to focus on post-primary 11-18 education, I decided to join this course, which focused more so on adult education.

‘Naturally, there is a lot of cross over in the theory concerning child and adult learning so I saw this course as an excellent opportunity to  support and improve on the knowledge and experience I have garnered during my time working in education. As well as this, I thought that it would also allow me to add another string to my bow, should I ever wish to go down the route of adult education in the future.

Like myself, there were those who were using the course as a precursor to post-primary training, others who may have needed to be able to train other people as part of their current job (in pharmacy/childcare/ health and safety/beauty therapy, etc), and those who were seeking to become adult educators at a college – which they would be able to do upon completion of the Level 4 Award in Education and Training.

‘Reflecting on this experience, I would say that I thoroughly enjoyed both the course and my time at the college. As I’d hoped, the course allowed me to build on and supplement my pre-existing knowledge whilst also introducing me to new facets of learning theory that I will be able to take on to my new role this coming year.

For these reasons and many more, Part Time courses at South West College have been eagerly awaited. You can now find out what courses are available to you at the SWC website.

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