Older Students Returning to Education: A Guide

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Health Assured team

28 June 2023

There’s a myth that all students in Higher Education are young people straight out of college. However, there are plenty of students who have left full-time education, spent many years in the workplace, and decided to return to study something they’re deeply passionate about.

It’s never too late to achieve your goals and get the qualifications you need to find the best career path possible. But in order to fully embrace this exciting new chapter in your life, and ensure you’re mentally prepared for this journey, here are some important things to remember as a mature student returning to education.


Be Prepared

Returning to education should be an enjoyable experience. But you should also expect to have a lot of new information thrown your way, and to have your studies potentially impact your home life. As older students, you might have a set routine, or family obligations, that some of the younger students don’t.

This doesn’t mean that your time in Higher Education will be any less enjoyable or rewarding, but it may require some preparation and planning around your other responsibilities.


Be Social

Mature students may feel uncomfortable approaching younger students and developing friendships. But it’s important to remember that everyone, regardless of age, is there to study and achieve their own individual goals.

Be welcoming of teamwork exercises or study groups and ask your university if they have any social clubs for mature students.


Be Sensible with your Time

Make a calendar with all your deadlines but aim to finish at least 3 days before this date to allow for any last-minute problems. Cross-reference this calendar with important birthdays, anniversaries, and other dates where you know you’ll be busy. Find pockets of time between your family or work commitments to study, even if it’s just 20 minutes. It may feel tricky at first, but planning helps to make your workload more manageable.


Be Open-Minded

While the above scheduling tips can help you stay within deadlines, don’t forget to approach tasks with an open mind and simply be in the moment sometimes. Keep voice notes on your phone about what you’ve learned, how it made you feel, and how it may influence your work or approach to your studies.

In other words, don’t forget to experience life while you learn, and apply it to your essays or presentations. You should always leave education with a deeper appreciation and understanding of your studies, so push yourself out of those comfort zones a little bit every day.


Be Honest about your Wellbeing

Everyone, regardless of age, can feel anxious and overwhelmed at times. And with so much change and new things to learn, it’s easy for these worries to develop into depression, stress, and burnout.

The priority in all of this should always be yourself. If you’re starting to feel like everything is a little too much, Health Assured’s Student Assistance Programme (SAP) offers a 24/7 confidential helpline to provide support and guidance.


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