Not everyone’s path to learning is the same. Whether you’re attending college or university for the first time or you’re a returning post-secondary student, going back to school can be a daunting feeling. Many schools have resources specifically for mature students, which will support your academic career and life in general.
As an adult, you may have already started a family. Having children is not a reason to hold your career and life goals back. In fact, a sizable percent of the student body will be mature students with dependents. Depending on the institution, there may be a variety of ways that the school provides assistance to families. Most schools will have daycare. Some schools will even provide subsidized housing for low-income families.
Before enrolling or the start of the semester, consider your school and work obligations. Schedule work shifts, classes, and time for homework. Understand the amount of support you’ll need. If possible, consider your alternatives for child care. Perhaps an older sibling in the family can supervise the younger ones while you’re absent. Older family members, like grandparents, aunts, and uncles are also options. Be sure to discuss expectations ahead of time so that they understand the responsibility and time it will take.
Financing your studies
Post-secondary education is expensive. Budget ahead of time, taking into account savings, student loans, government support, spousal income, and other sources of income. Consult your school’s financial aid office for more information on assistance.
Relating to your peers
You are at an interesting point in your life where you have something in common with younger people as well as adults with your level of life experience. The difference in life perspective exists, but it should not be a barrier to understanding and even forming respectful relationships with younger students.
You may find that younger people are very curious to know about life outside of school, as they have limited experience. Providing insight to relationships or work difficulties puts you in a unique position.
As with many university or college courses, students may work together to form course outlines, study notes, and study sessions. Don’t feel excluded because of the age gap.
Managing stress in life
As a mature student, you may have more on your plate than some students. Between supporting yourself and your children, you are also responsible for cooking, cleaning, and other parental duties. As important as it is to manage the diverse obligations in your life, keeping a sustainable schedule will help you in the long run. Set manageable goals, with plans on how to complete them. Congratulate yourself when you do well, and ask for assistance when you struggle.
With the constraints on your time, you may not be able to devote as many hours to studying and review. This shouldn’t be a barrier to learning as much as you can. Instead, you can focus on being efficient on what you learn. Consider the course. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the point of the course?
- What are the major topics or themes?
- What exercises best illustrate what I’m supposed to learn?
Answer the following questions throughout the semester to decide what you’ll spend your time studying. Exchange class or course summaries from fellow students to compare your understanding from a different point of view. Many schools have old exams from previous years, which provide an invaluable learning resource for many.
Personal needs services
If computer use is daunting, universities and colleges routinely offer courses such as health care courses as to meet student needs. Some courses demonstrate basic skills, while others show students how to use specific programs. Proficiency in technology among young people vary, so you and many of your peers may share a similar level of comfort when it comes to computers. Show the initiative to refresh your memory.
Student tuition is distributed among various departments and groups on campus. Many of these services are available for access without extra cost, such as:
- Mental health support
- Learning disability support
- Social services, legal aid, and other student representatives
To make the most out of your time and fees, review the options available to you. There are also fun activities too to help you enjoy being a student. Movie nights or trips organized by the student body government is a common privilege that can be enjoyed by all.
Above all, know that the decision to return to school is an admirable choice. As much hard work goes into your decision, remember to occasionally enjoy the life experiences of a student.
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I am working as a consultant for finance and education in one of the firms in Canada. I am largely dedicated in giving expert analysis and advisory in education, finance, bankruptcy and credits to individuals, students, entrepreneurs as well as firms and organizations. I do more research on various courses, accredited colleges and educational institutions so that I get in depth knowledge about latest trends in education.- Gordon Wolfe