It can be daunting to go back to college as a mature student. Today we’re going to help you overcome that fear!
Getting over the fear of going back to college as a mature student
It’s a big and brave move to decide that you are going to go to college or university as a mature student. It may have been years since you were last in formal education. Work and family may have been your priorities, but now you’ve decided to do something for you and go back to education. In this article, we’re going to help you come up with a plan to ease any nerves you have and make the most of this exciting time.
Before starting college
In the days and weeks before you start your course it can be helpful to have an understanding of the various tech and social media you’ll most likely be using in college. Nowadays, most communication that occurs in college happens on social media. If you’ve rarely used social media it’s helpful to get to know certain apps. Get familiar with Facebook, especially Facebook Groups and Messenger, Whatsapp and Snapchat. It’s likely that the younger students will be using these apps to keep in contact with each other.
Also, take time to become familiar with Microsoft Word and Powerpoint. There’s a good chance that you’ll be using these to for college presentations and assignments. There are plenty of free online tutorials that will show you how to use these. If you already have a good working knowledge of Microsoft, get to grips with more advanced tools like Prezi and Canva to help make your work stand out.
Another aspect of starting college is just getting to know the campus. If you are starting in a large university, you’re probably going to spend the first few weeks getting lost as you go between lectures. If possible, walk around the campus before you start, and get to know the buildings. Student Services usually provide new students with maps, so study the map and get familiar with the various routes you’ll need to take.
The first week
It’s important to realize that you are going to feel completely overwhelmed during your first week. That’s okay. So will everyone else. The most important thing you need to accomplish is to get to the introductory lectures of all your classes. There you should be given the course outline that will include all the topics you’ll need to study, the recommended reading list, and most importantly – the assignment deadlines and exam breakdown.
It can be daunting during the first week trying to make friends. You may feel that everyone already seems to have a buddy, and you’re on your own. There are a few ways to tackle this. First, just go up and say hello. I know this can be intimidating, but starting college is a whole bundle of firsts. Let’s just add this one to the mix as well. If you are put into an orientation group, talk to the other students in the group. Every time you go to a lecture, make it your mission to chat with one new person. If this isn’t working, find out if there is a mature student society in the college. This can be a great way to meet people who are in the exact same position as yourself. Finally, use the GirlCrew app to see if anyone else in your college wants to meet up for a coffee. GirlCrew assemble!
The rest of the semester
Don’t be surprised if you find the entire process of going back to college stressful. That’s a normal feeling to have.
A common feeling amongst mature students who venture back to college is that of ‘imposter syndrome’. You’ll start to question whether going back to education was a good idea. Feelings of inadequacy, thinking that everyone else is smarter and better equipped than you will creep into your thoughts. You might be angry that nobody warned you how much pressure you would find yourself under. You might even think that you’ll eventually be ‘found out’ by your professors or lecturers for not belonging in academia.
These feelings will occur, but don’t let them fester or throw you off track. Find out what support services are provided by the college and use them. Contact the Student Union and see if they have someone you can talk to.
You’ll also have to try and balance your college life with your family/social commitments. If you have kids, you may have to organize childcare – especially towards the end of the semester as assignments and deadlines pile up. You may find it difficult to stay in regular contact with your friends, as the semester progresses and the workload mounts.
It’s important to have honest and open discussions with the people in your life that will be affected by your decision to go back to school. By outlining your needs and expectations, and hearing those of your family and friends – you can try to find an acceptable balance.
Have you returned to education as a mature student? Have you any tips for those about to take the plunge? Or if you are about to start college as a mature student, what are you most looking forward to/dreading? Let us know in the comments below.