Mature Students: What You Need to Know
Returning to university as a mature student is a totally different experience than going right after high school, as students have a new head on their shoulders and varied expectations.
Keep an Open Mind
It won't be the easiest situation in the world, getting your degree surrounded by students half your age, but keep in mind why you're there: to earn a degree and be competitive in the workforce. Also remember that you're in college, and it's a bit of a time to relax before the expectations get heavy again.
We won't offer any trite advice like "chat up the student beside you" or "arrange a study session" because we know you've been through that before in your careers. Instead, just try to remember that the young students around you are just as nervous and worried about their education as you are, but in a different way. While you're not dealing with hormones or newly exploring adulthood, you're more like your younger counterparts than you think, and a lot of them will be just as intimidated by you as you are of them.
Be Your Own Advocate
Although some universities have a sizable mature student population, information and resources is still geared to the younger demographic. This doesn't mean that mature students are completely cut-off, but that their options are a little more hidden than for others.
Mature students often have special options or dispensations available to them solely based on their age, so it makes sense to try and uncover them as soon as possible. It may feel weird to talk to a bunch of teenagers about it, but they're the ones who are front and center with the resources.
Don't use your age as an excuse to look down on the younger students for being immature or silly. Do you remember what you were like at 18? Were you any different? These kids may be young, but they're doing the best they can with what they've got. You've had years of life experience to get through the day a little more efficiently, but they haven't yet.
But beyond the age of your classmates, remember that college also has a big social aspect to it, too. While things like frosh week or keggers may not exactly be your cup of tea, there are still plenty of ways to soak in the university atmosphere.
As well, immerse yourself in your classes and don't be hesitant to put up your hand and ask questions. Most profs will usually be a little relieved and comforted to see someone close in age to them, as opposed to the same bright, young faces all the time. And because your profs are around the same age as you, they tend to be much more sympathetic to the issues concerning mature students.
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