You're never too old to study again.

The last time I wrote a varsity exam the hit TV show Twin Peaks was still on TV. About a year ago I started getting this niggle to start studying again. Not because my job required it, but I just wanted to get the neurons firing again.

We often don't follow the urge though, because life often gets in the way and we feel we don't have time and/or financial resources and/or emotional strength to start all over again.

Twin PeaksThat happened to me back in the early nineties. The year after completing my degree I enrolled to do a second degree in  Criminology... it lasted 4 months. I just couldn't muster up the passion to do it all over again. I preferred just chilling on the couch at night waiting for the next episode of Twin Peaks (because I wouldn't need an actual Criminology degree to figure out who killed Laura Palmer). Sometimes you need a clean break from studying. Mine was 24 years.

At the beginning of last year though I felt I was finally up for the challenge to do it all over again.

When I do motivational talks at corporates, I often use the example of learning to play a musical instrument. How many of us wish we had learned to play the piano or another instrument when we were younger, but just never committed to lessons? Well, why not start now? I decided to do it a few years ago. I'm a terrible player and am on Grade level 2, but by the time I'm in the old age home I'm gonna rock that place.

Mark Pilgrim
So in June last year I enrolled to do a MBA (Masters in Business Administration) through Edinburgh Business School (a division of the prestigious Heriot-Watt University in the UK). Jumping in the deep end while my enthusiasm was high, I started with one of the more feared subjects: ACCOUNTING. I spent many a morning over the past few months getting up at 4.30am to get in 2 hours of studying before the day started (and my girls woke up). There were days I wondered if I had what it took and if I really understood the material enough to pass the rigorous exam.

Honestly, I walked into the exam room in December with a lot of trepidation. If I failed, would I have the fortitude to re-write and also continue with the course? Would Nicole think of me as a failure? After 3 hours I walked out not quite knowing if I passed or failed (the joy of Accounting).

I got my results yesterday... 84%. In the varsity's classification system it is an "A with distinction". Thank God!

So now I'm back to getting up at 4.30am to tackle the next subject in the course.

I'm not alone in thinking it's never too late to go back to varsity. My old mate from 5FM days Steve Kirker (same age as me) just graduated with his Honours in Journalism at the end of last year (nice one brother!). My old class mate Lauren Gardener has just enrolled at WITS this year for a post-grad in Psychology.

I guess the point of this blog is, if you have the emotional fortitude, the message is... You CAN find the time. You're NEVER too old to study again. You've just got to WANT to do it.

Ironically, my wife never watched Twin Peaks back in the nineties, and with the new 2017 season coming up, I'm watching all the old episodes of the show again with her. If you bump into Nicole, don't tell her who killed Laura Palmer.

View Comments

Okay MBA, here we go!

My mum had two wishes for me. Firstly she wanted to see me get married one day. Secondly, she wanted me to be the first in my family to go to university and get a degree. I did both. Sadly she passed away though before either of them happened.

In fact, I was at WITS doing my 2nd year of a B.Com when I fell ill with cancer and the whole dream unraveled. After almost a year of fighting the disease and beating it, it was only because of my mum's dream of me being at varsity that I picked up the mantle again and completed my degree a few years later through UNISA. It wasn't easy as I was working full time to pay for rent and scraped together the leftover change to pay for my courses one year at a time. There were times when I just wanted to give up, but I pushed through. Two years after my mum died I graduated with a B.Com in Business Economics and Industrial Psychology.

And then I became a radio deejay.

Fast forward 22 years and here we are now in 2016. My brain is yearning for something to blow the cobwebs away. It was Nicole with her eternal optimism of "do what you want to do" that pushed me to start investigating the various options of an MBA.

How the hell do people manage their full time lives and still manage to go to night classes!? Not me. In fact, with my diary that's always all over the place with morning and evening events there's no way I could do the traditional lecture-based study. So I put that question to TWOOGLE (I asked the question on twitter) and more than one person came back to me about Edinburgh Business School (backed by Heriot-Watt University in Scotland). It's a fully accredited MBA for those who prefer distance learning. It's not a walk in the park. You have to put in about 200 hours for each of the 9 required modules, which works out to about 2 hours a day every week day for about 5 months... per module. I'm not crazy, so I'm starting out with one module only to get a feel for how it fits into my schedule, but excited about entering a new chapter in my life.

So here we go. The MBA journey has begun. Thanks to my wife for pushing me further in life!

(If you're interested in the MBA course, check out the Edinburgh Business School website :

View Comments
See Older Posts...