It’s never too late to open your mind and learn something new! Whether you are retraining in a new career or furthering your education in your current area of expertise, there’s an abundance of adult education courses available. If you haven’t studied since your teenage years, going back to university can be a shock to the system, but with a few tips and some perseverance, you will soon be donning a flat black cap for your graduation ceremony.
Ask the professionals
There is a whole range of learning and study techniques out there. If you are struggling to get your head around a subject or a concept, look into getting some tutoring online. Whether it’s one session or a regular weekly gig, a tutor will help you get the most from your university degree. After all, a uni degree will set you back around the same amount as a house deposit, so shelling out $20 to $50 an hour for advice from an expert is a small price to pay. Consider it an investment in your future, and make the most of every tutoring session to ensure that investment pays off.
Build a support network
Generally, as an adult, we have many more responsibilities than the average 20-year-old student fresh out of high school. Many mature-age students have to juggle their studies with taking care of kids, jobs, bills, and a house that needs cleaning.
To find the time to study, you may need to get help. Maybe your parents can pick up the kids after school one night a week. You could hire a cleaner, or if that isn’t in the budget, renegotiate the split of the household chores with the other members of the family. It might be an excellent time for the kids to step up and start packing their lunches or organizing dinner one night a week.
Make your goals achievable
With all the support in the world, there is still only so much time in one day. With this in mind, it’s essential that you avoid setting unrealistic goals for yourself. Starting an essay at 11:45 pm after you have been to the gym, done a full day’s work, cooked dinner and fed the family, helped with the kid’s science project, and baked cookies aren’t realistic. You might survive one week of this kind of action-packed lifestyle, but it’s not sustainable.
The biggest problem with unachievable goals is that they take a massive toll on your mental health. If you’re constantly feeling like a failure, your resolve to continue your education will falter.
Of course, you do need to push yourself if you want to succeed. The trick lies in finding the right balance. To do this, start by researching what timeframes and options are available for completing your desired course. Plot out the amount of time you’ll need to dedicate to classes, revision, assignments, exam prep, and other related activities, and see what that will do to your existing schedule. Don’t be afraid to get in contact with your school to see what assistance may be available to help you succeed as a mature age student with a busy schedule.
Don’t fall behind
We all know how easy it is to lose an hour scrolling through social media when we are tired after a long day. Instead of procrastinating, now is the time to get it done! If you put off your study for a week, then you risk getting behind in your work and being unable to catch up.
To avoid falling into this trap, try to map out when your assignments, group work, and essays are due and when your tests are coming up. This way, you’ll be able to plan towards each task and will save yourself from forgetting about something until the last minute. Scheduling is a valuable skill in and of itself, so this strategy will become a valuable asset to you well after graduation.
Stick with It
Too often, people get discouraged by the amount of time it takes to earn a qualification, especially if they’re working on it part-time. Remember, you could either be six years older with a degree or six years older wishing you had jumped in and done it when you first thought about it. The time will pass either way – what matters is how you fill it.
If you’re still feeling uncertain about whether you can pursue tertiary education at your age, there are plenty of inspirational stories online from mature age students who’ve gone before you. Whenever you feel like giving up, remember there are people getting medical degrees in their fifties!
Be realistic about your needs and wants
Though it would be fantastic to seamlessly slot back into university life, your journey as a mature age student is unlikely to be that smooth. This is nothing to be concerned about. You will likely have different needs and wants to the younger members of the student body. If you want to save your sanity, it’s important that you be realistic about these differences.
For some mature-age students, online education is ideal as it is easier to fit around their existing schedules and it saves them from feeling like the odd one out in class. Of course, plenty of mature age students love the campus lifestyle and enjoy making friends of all ages. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to your personal needs and wants, so don’t ever feel pressured to go one way or another. Consider what makes you happy and comfortable, and then go with choices that work for you.
Above all, do your best and don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, we should learn new things every day to keep our brains active and interested. You will be glad you invested the time to learn new skills when you are tossing your graduation cap into the air (or negotiating a pay raise).