Going back to school as a mature student can be a marvellous experience. You have chosen to study because you want to, rather than because you have been forced into it by your parents, or simply don’t know what else to do, as may be the case with younger students. However, if you have been in the workforce for some time, or you have been looking after your family, you may need to follow some basic tips to get back into the swing of studying.
Share your goals with your family and friends
If your family and friends are used to you being at their beck and call, they may find it more difficult than you do to accept that you are now studying on a regular basis. Make sure that you explain to them why you have decided to go back to school – presumably to make a better life for all of you – and ask for their assistance in helping you make life a little easier, particularly if you are still working. If family members take it in turns to cook and clean afterwards, it can take a lot of pressure away from you. You also need to explain that when you are studying, you don’t want to be distracted unless it is absolutely necessary.
Timetable study time
Setting aside time to study is important if you are to progress quickly. If you’re studying full-time, it may be tempting to think you have all the time in the world to fit in your studying, but you want avoid leaving it until the last minute. If you are still working, it is all the more important to ensure that you have enough time to get everything done. Take a look at your weekly schedule and decide on the best times to study. You may prefer a regimented timetable, whereby you study at the same time every day. Alternatively, you may need to fit your studies around a hectic lifestyle. The key is to set your timetable and then stick to it consistently.
Find somewhere quiet to study
It may not be all that easy to find somewhere peaceful to study. If you have a houseful of people, it can be hard to convince them to keep quiet for long enough for you to complete your work. It will also be tempting to drop what you are doing and go and have some fun along with them. If it isn’t possible to study in peace at home, then find somewhere else; possibly the local library, an empty classroom at college, or even a friend’s house. Just make sure that you have everything you need with you, so that you are not constantly realising that you don’t have the relevant book or file you need to complete your work.
Attend brush-up classes
Most colleges, whether online or bricks-and-mortar, will offer classes to help students of all levels with time management, computer and research skills. If you’re feeling unconfident about your skills in these areas, then take the opportunity to sign up and attend them. Just because you are a mature student doesn’t mean that people will expect you to be able to do everything perfectly, so you shouldn’t feel ashamed at not knowing everything you think you need to know. The chances are that after a brief refresher, you will be feeling confident and raring to go.
Ask for help
It is also important to ask for help when you need it. You may be reluctant to ask college staff about things with which you are sure your younger counterparts are already familiar, especially if they have just finished a tier of the educational system. However, you will bring a maturity to your studies that many members of staff will find refreshing. Also, because they are more your age and realise that you have chosen to go back to school for a reason, they will be very willing to help you achieve your goals. A couple of sessions with a tutor may just be enough to answer most of the questions that you have and set you on the right track for the rest of the school year.
Don’t forget the social side of studying
If you have a family and possibly a job too, your main priority may be to do what you need to do for college and then get home or go to work. However, socialising with your classmates, and possibly staff members too, is an important part of your studies. In the future, they may be excellent contacts in your revitalised career. You will also broaden your interests and the shared interest in your studies will inspire you and keep you going when you are perhaps beginning to doubt your reasons for going back to school. You may not have time to spend every weekend in the student bar, but you will undoubtedly have the occasional free evening to socialise.
Getting back into the swing of studying shouldn’t take you too long at all, even if you have been out of the education system for some time. Age really doesn’t have to be an obstacle to studying.