Returning to college or university as a mature student is a great experience, but its a totally different one from if you go straight from school or after a gap year. Most mature students have more family commitments and responsibilities to manage alongside their studies which can be a difficult juggling act.
If youre thinking about returning to college and becoming a mature student try answering these questions to ensure that youre aware of how it will impact on your life and that its the right decision for you.
1. Why do you want to study? There are lots of different reasons why people return to education. You need to be very clear in your own mind of the reasons, because these can impact on whether it is a positive or negative experience.
2. Will you study full-time or part-time? You may not have a choice over whether a course is full or part-time but its wise to think how you are going to fit your studies alongside your other commitments.
3. Which course and why? This is actually two questions but they go together. Make sure that you do your research and are very clear why youre interested in a particular course and how it will benefit you. I know of someone who once did a degree because one of their friends had got on the course. It wasnt actually the degree she really wanted and she didnt think it through.
4. What do you want out of it? Make a list of your expectations and then consider how you will feel if they arent satisfied. This can help you to check whats really important to you and whether you may need to revise any of your wants, needs or expectations.
5. How up-to-date are your skills? Different courses have different requirements but most courses these days require a certain standard of literacy and numeracy as well as IT skills for research and completion of assignments. If theyre rusty make the opportunity to up date them .
6. How will you find time to study? The longer the course the more work you will be expected to produce in your own time. Think about how you will find time to study . If you decide to do a course make sure you add study time into your weekly schedule.
7. Are there any financial implications? Studying any subject is generally not cheap and requires some financial commitment. It may not be an issue if youre being sponsored by your employer but if you have to manage the finance yourself think through what affect this may have on your budget.
8. Who else will be affected if you return to education? Think about other people who may be affected by your decision to return to education and what impact it may have on their life. Make sure that you discuss it with them so you can be aware of any problems that may arise.
9. How will you juggle your commitments? List all the commitments that you currently have and work out whether you can or need to delegate some to other people, or drop them altogether. Its important that you maintain a healthy balance between your studies, work and home life.
10. What else could impact on your decision? Think about any other issues that may impact on your decision to return to college or university. Dont pretend they dont exist. Address them .
Running through the questions above will help to give you a clear picture of whether you want to return to education in college or university and some of the issues that you need to think about which could impact on your life and help you to make a final decision.