Studying as a Mature Student

Studying as a mature student is something that has become increasingly popular over the last few years. The majority of mature students are probably made up of the bracket of people which are retraining to find employment as they have fallen victims of the recession. There are also those that need to constantly update their skill set in order to remain in their current employment.


I have met plenty of mature students that are studying because they are dissatisfied with their situation in life and are making use of an opportunity that they might not have been afforded when they were younger. Then there are those that are merely seeking to further educate themselves in a subject that they are interested in. Whatever the reason is all these people have one thing in common - courage.

It takes enormous courage to enter back into education after you have been out of it for as little as one year never mind 20! Some mature students that I have met had not put pen to paper in nearly 40 years other than to write a Christmas card. Many students have to tackle the age of computers without any knowledge of even how to turn it on. I have always loved the advert on TV where the computer instructor asks the students to delete what they have written on the screen and you see one woman getting her tip ex out and painting it on the monitor. One guy is using the CD drive to hold his coffee cup!

There is another aspect to consider when entering back into education as a mature student. Will you do it full time or part time? Due to family, work and other commitments many of our students find that part time suits them better as they can keep working, don't have to pay for childcare etc. This however poses its own set of problems. When your day starts as early as 6am and is made up of work, school runs, housework, homework and every other conceivable type of work you could think of, when do you get to sit down and do your course work? I find that putting time aside to do course work is usually the very last thing to make it onto your time management agenda. I clean, cook, wash and iron before I would ever consider sitting down to tackle an assignment although once I start I know I will love it. My advice for any mature student that is currently studying or wishes to study part time is to set time aside each week with the same diligence that you would if it were for paid working hours. Whether you prefer to work at night once all the jobs are done and the house is quiet or whether you are like me and get your best work done early in the morning before the house wakes - dedicate a few hours a day or a week as time that belongs to your course. If you have taken the plunge and decided to enrol in a course with a subject that you love, you have bought the course materials - then you owe it to yourself to take the time to do the work.

Once you have decided when your special study time is, a suitable work station is the next most important thing. This doesn't necessarily need to be a vast space with state of the art, ergonomically designed furniture. A simple desk and chair will suffice but you should be able to leave your books and other study materials in place without having to pack up at the end of each session. The problem with packing up after each session is that it will take you that much longer to get started the next time and as time is of the essence you want to get cracking the moment you sit down to work - before you can get distracted by the dust on the windows! I am well versed in the subject of procrastination!

My final piece of advice to all those indecisive souls out there that are on the edge of the fence - uncertain whether to enrol or doubting that they have the ability to make it through the course - the hardest part is making the decision. Once you have enrolled its easy. The whole process snowballs into place and before you know it you are halfway through the course work and your life has taken on a whole new perspective. Wouldn't you rather try something new and get that sense of accomplishment, which is impossible to buy, when you post your first assignment. I will leave you with these wise words that I have always found helpful when in a quandary, "more is lost through indecision than wrong decision."

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Written by: Ciarda Barrett (Senior Tutor)

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