Both G and I managed to reach our mid-thirties with only a modicum of qualifications. G did have a BSc from Aberystwyth University, but I'd failed my first attempt at a degree and thus for years had only 2 A-levels, 8 O-levels and a bitter sense of failure and unfinished business. But in the mid-80s, G realised that if he was going to write the sort of programs he wanted to be able to write, he needed more maths. And this led eventually (via a first class honours Open University degree) to a Masters in maths and finally to acceptance as a Chartered Mathematician. Observing that G had found the Open University method of study to suit him, I signed up as well and some seven years later, could proudly put BA(Hons) after my name. Not that I ever do, you understand, but I could, if I wanted to.
But why the MA? A couple of reasons. Firstly, I do have to admit to a bit of peer pressure. By the end of the summer, our son should finish his Masters, our daughter already has a Masters as does her husband (currently working on a PhD) which would mean that I was the only family member without any kind of post graduate qualification.
And more seriously, it looks like an interesting venture. I already spend a lot of time on-line reading and writing about the writing process, I'm currently writing a novel, submitting the occasional short story to a paying market and even more occasionally, selling one. Critiquing and being critiqued is again something I do. If I transfer all that activity to the Virtual Writing School, I should, all being well, at the end of three years have gained a lot of useful experience and contacts -- and the magic letters MA to put after my name, should I care to do so.
Another deciding factor is that Manchester is my home city. Though I've been an ex-patriot Mancunian for more than 30 years, I don't think you ever quite shake off your roots. As I said, the studying is almost all done on-line, but there are readings and lectures and presentations by writers, publishers and other people connected with the book trade organised for the full-time students. Manchester is too far to commute to for a face-to-face course, but visiting once a month for a special meeting is perfectly feasible. They also say they welcome mature students.
Oooh! This is quite exciting. Now I have to sort out all the stuff needed for my application. 15 pages of fiction (no problem, just need to polish the first chapter of the WIP) and up to 10 pages of critical writing. That is more problematical as I'm not totally sure what kind of thing they want. However, they seem very approachable, so I can e-mail to clarify this if necessary. Also need two refereees, but I have a couple of names in mind. SF fandom definitely has it's uses.