If there’s one thing older students can agree on, it’s that returning to study is really challenging! I wish someone told me what to expect before I went back to uni. So here are 10 tips on balancing it all, which I’ve learned along the way:
1. Learn to Live on a Budget
Some students vacate their full-time income to pursue study. One thing is for sure, when a household income is dramatically reduced, life can be challenging on the home front.
It really helps to micro-manage your finances and learn to live on a budget. Life may not be the same as it was with a regular income, but you will be surprised at how well you can manage.
2. Time Management
Planning your time is crucial for all students, yet more so for their older peers who are often juggling family obligations, work schedules and the demands of a mature-aged lifestyle full of responsibilities.
A weekly schedule of all your activities can be an effective management tool and one that balances all of your life’s commitments.
3. Support of Family and Friends
Support from your significant other, family and/or friends can be one of the greatest motivator for an older student.
Your partner can step in to look after household duties and/or children; family can lend support by being encouraging and friends for simply understanding.
It’s a lonely road returning to study but you can thrive at uni if you receive all the support you can get.
Keeping up with technology will be instrumental in managing your study, especially for those who have returned to learning after many years away from the books.
Research is a big part of a student’s life so the sooner you get acquainted with the available technology for the betterment of your studies, the better your academic life will be.
5. Connect with Other Students
It can be difficult to connect with other students when you think you’re too old. However, you’ll find that a lot of your younger peers will appreciate and benefit from the wisdom you possess.
And you’ll be surprised at the amount of older folks who have made the same decision as you, so don’t hesitate to step out of your comfort zone and connect.
6. Join Student Clubs and Associations
Student clubs are the best places to meet like-minded people with common interests as you.
There’s a club out there for everyone and from my experience, you will make long lasting friendships with those from student associations.
There might be a club or an association for the older student so give it a go.
7. Keep Focused
Life will distract you, bills will keep you up at night, constant pressure from assignment deadlines and looming exams will get overwhelming.
However, keep focused on your goals and revisit the reasons why you went back to studies.
And remember, your time at uni will not last long; therefore, concentrate on the end result as it’s worth it in the end.
8. Know What to Expect
You need to dedicate a substantial amount of time learning your material in order to be successful in your course. Investing 10 hours per week minimum on a subject is sure to reap positive results.
Expect to give up your evenings and weekends to study; that’s part and parcel of being a uni student. When you accept these challenges, you will be better prepared in giving it your time.
9. Get Help Early
As soon as you encounter problems that you cannot solve, get help as soon as possible. Your professors want to see you pass your course and may provide consultation times to help you so use it wisely.
Don’t leave it to the last minute nor be embarrassed about asking for help as it may be the difference between passing or failing a subject.
Be mindful that psychological barriers can interfere with meeting deadlines, writing essays and preparing for exams. Seek help when you feel stuck, there’s bound to be a student counsellor on campus.
And it’s so crucial not to procrastinate! The longer you leave it, the harder it will get.
10. Set Up a Reward System
Last but not least, have fun along the way. Set up a system where you can reward yourself throughout the duration of a semester.
Rewards can be as simple as a new pair of shoes for passing a difficult exam or a little holiday interstate or overseas when you have passed the subject.
It will reinvigorate you to face other challenges in the upcoming semester.
You will be faced with many challenges as a mature-aged student because of all the responsibilities you currently juggle. However, connect with other students, manage your time well and keep focused on your goals amongst other things. In no time, you’ll discover that returning to study is not only rewarding but also enjoyable.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” Nelson Mandela.