Information for mature students who have not previously studied

Congratulations on thinking about coming to university as a mature student. Returning to study is both rewarding and challenging. It is an opportunity to reinvent yourself as a learner, while reaching for new goals.

Many mature students comment on how, unlike their memories of school, they can now appreciate and enjoy their learning opportunities. At the same time, it is not an easy transition and there is much to learn – not just the content of the programme, but also the skills and knowledge necessary to be an effective student, and to fit study into your full life.

Some things to think about as you prepare for this new role:

  • Consider taking just one or two courses in your first semester. This will give you and your family the time and space to ease into this new environment. It is far better to start small and succeed, than to over-commit and fail. To help you identify how you could fit study into your regular routine use our workload planning tool.

  • Leave room in your life for the unexpected. It is surprising how many students experience unexpected changes in their lives in any given semester: health, work, housing, family. If you have taken on too much study then the stress may be unmanageable and your study may suffer.

  • If possible start your study with a course that really fires your interest. Being fascinated by a topic makes it easier to find the time to study when life gets busy.

  • Start talking with your family now about how it will work for them and for you. What changes will you all need to make? How will this affect them and how can they help you? It is a learning curve for them as well.

  • Start planning now about when and where you will study, but be flexible about this. There is no one right way of studying so be willing to experiment to find out what works for you and your family.

  • Use all the support and resources that are available to you. New students are not expected to be excellent straight away, and staff are there to help. You just need to ask. Sometimes people find it difficult to be back in the role of student and so can be reluctant to seek help. Know that you are not alone in feeling unsure.

  • Some students feel slightly out of place at first, being older than the others in class. Remember though, that University is new to the younger students as well and many of them are also feeling uncomfortable at first.

  • Remember what you bring. As a mature-aged student, you bring with you a wealth of life and work experience that will be invaluable in the classroom. Share it.

  • Start early. As soon as you have any learning materials, for example you know the name of your textbook, or your course material is available, get started on the reading. Do not wait until the official start of the semester. Every extra day helps.