When we think of individuals in higher education, we tend to automatically think of eighteen to twenty-one-year-olds, who have walked straight from their high school education into the next stage of their educational journey. This makes sense. After all, the vast majority of students do fall into this demographic. But student bodies are becoming increasingly diverse, and now mature students make up a much larger percentage than they may have in the past. An adult student is essentially anyone aged over twenty-one when they begin their studies in college. Now, everyone’s experiences as a student are bound to vary. But is there anything that mature students can do to ensure that their time within higher education is as productive and positive as possible? Let’s run through a few simple steps that can help you to truly excel as an adult student!
Determining Whether Study is Right for You
First things first, consider whether studying is right for you. Why are you considering heading back to education? Some common (and good) reasons include:
- A Change in Career – if you don’t enjoy what you’re currently doing for work and you want your life to head in a different direction, you might consider a new career path. Sometimes you will find that positions you are interested in require specific qualifications. Heading back to college could allow you to acquire these.
- Career Progression – perhaps you want to stay in a similar role to the role you currently have but want to progress up the ladder into a promoted position. A degree in the right subject could help you get promoted.
- Passion – if you are deeply invested in a topic or field of academia and you have the free time and money to invest into pursuing education for its own sake, you could flourish by enrolling on a course.
If you are simply heading back to college because you don’t know what you want in life and are trying to find purpose and direction, you might want to really give some time and thought to where you want to go before signing up to a course. You don’t want to sign up to anything, just for the sake of it.
Choosing the Right Course
If you do decide to head to higher education, you need to make sure that you choose the right course to suit your needs. Don’t just sign up to the first thing you see. Consider your wants and needs. What are you planning on doing with your life and which course will guide you in the right direction? Which course ticks all of the boxes of the job you are trying to achieve or the subject you are trying to master? Remember that courses going by the same name don’t necessarily endow you with the same knowledge or skills. A course at one college could vary drastically from a course of the same name at a different college. So, whether you opt for online training in lean manufacturing or a degree in fine arts, you’re going to have to commit time to ensure you make the right choice.
Choosing Your Mode of Study
Nowadays, there are more modes of study than ever. So, don’t assume that you’re going to have to sign up to a full-time course and spend all of your time studying on campus. While thisisan option and should be embraced by anyone whowantsto study in this way, the majority of institutions have alternative options that could help a course to better fit into your lifestyle. Part-time courses take twice as long to complete, but could fit in around work or other commitments that you may already have. Online courses offer even more flexibility, as you can study from the comfort of your own home rather than having to attend teaching and other events on-campus.
Engaging in the Student Community
It is essential that you don’t feel excluded when you begin studies as an adult student. Being an active part of the student community can be a significant part of anyone’s educational experience. Adult students can form a significant part of this community, and your participation is just as important as anybody else’s. Take a look at the different societies that you can sign up to. Many colleges have a mature students’ organization where you can get to know other people who are in a similar situation to yourself. Attend student events that interest you. Be a part of the grander scheme of things!
Create a Schedule
Scheduling is vital for any student. But it can prove even more essential for adult students who may have more responsibilities outside of studies than other students. If you have kids, a job, or other commitments, you’re really going to have to take prioritizing your time a priority. It can be so easy to fall behind on your studies and difficult to catch back up. So, it’s best to stay on track from the outset!
Reaching Out to Academic Staff and Services
Remember that academic staff and services are there for your benefit. It is their role to help you with your studies and your journey. So, don’t feel afraid to make use of them! Reach out to them if you are struggling or experiencing any difficulties at any point. They should be able to guide you in the right direction and alleviate any worries.
Heading to college as an adult student can be a relatively daunting experience. But remember that the student experience can be daunting for everybody involved. Higher education is a tough and testing time, but do your best to make the most of it and gain absolutely everything that you can from your time spent studying! Hopefully, these tips will help you to achieve this!
As always, thank you for reading!
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