Back to School – Pros and Cons for Mature Students

With the increasing need for skills in the workplace, more and more people in their 30’s, 40’s and beyond are returning to college or entering university. In fact, in the UK around 20% of new graduates are over 25 years old. And in the US it’s even higher, with about 39% of older students. As with most things, there are pros and cons and it’s important to consider them before making a decision.

While 18-year-olds study to improve their chances in the job market, they have many other reasons for doing so. They want to enjoy the student experience, often living away from home for the first time, with access to cheap alcohol and entertainment, new friends and a whole new environment. All of this is an important part of growing up and navigating the world, but gives older students a clear advantage as they tend to place much more emphasis on education as a means to a better job and improved quality of life. Lecturers therefore welcome older students, knowing that they are likely to take their studies more seriously than school leavers.

While older students aren’t tempted to hit the college bar, they may be facing learning for the first time in many years. So they might have more trouble adjusting to college than their younger peers. Fortunately, universities and colleges are now offering additional help to help students of all ages and backgrounds overcome initial learning difficulties by offering study skills workshops, one-on-one assignment help, and specialized tutors in dyslexia, reading, writing, and numeracy.

If you’re concerned about your ability to keep up, you should check with the college in advance to see how much support is available. You will also find that teachers are much more approachable these days and the lessons are much more student centered than they used to be. So don’t be put off if you’ve had bad experiences at school. It may be possible or even advisable to complete a short course before beginning a course of study or professional qualification. This can help you get back into college and resolve any issues before you face deadlines, exams, and the other stresses of high-level study.

As a senior student, you may also need to adjust to having less money, especially if you previously had a well-paying job. Alternatively, you may need to continue working to support a family. This can add extra stress so you should plan your schedule before the course starts. This includes setting up your care system to ensure childcare is organized and working hours are set to facilitate studying and attending lectures. If you feel full-time employment is not an option then it is imperative that you plan your finances accordingly by saving, taking out a loan and of course checking for financial aid available in the form of student grants or scholarships.

A popular alternative for older students is distance learning. In fact, with student debt rising, many younger students are also choosing this option. It can be an excellent way to balance existing responsibilities with acquiring new skills. Degrees are often modular in nature, allowing students to adjust their pace of study as needed.

If you missed opportunities to study when you were young, going to college in middle age can be a liberating and exciting experience.

© Waller Jamison 2007

Thanks to Waller Jamison | #School #Pros #Cons #Mature #Students

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