Getting Over the Fear of Going Back to College as a Mature Student

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

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.


13 thoughts on “Getting Over the Fear of Going Back to College as a Mature Student”

  1. I dont really how college work but if we are talking about going back to school in general as adult I must say its quitr stressful! I went to the university here in Switzerland to become a french teacher for foreigner in my own country. I was about 26 by that time. Still young but I was one of the elder ones in the courses. It was stressful perhaps that had nothing to do with age but the fact that school for me is stressful!

  2. I have over time thought about going back to uni but I never did. I think if people get the courage and do go back. You are right, you definitely need a support system or group. It also must be super hard to balance your college life with your family/social commitments. I give anyone a high five that does do it.

  3. Joining to University as a mature student may sound uncomfortable at the beginning.But,when you find the right student group this can be really exciting.I studied recently when I was around 35.That time most students were below 30.At the same time we had one member who is over 50.But we had a great student group and we always finished our assignments with help of the experiences of mature people in our group… 🙂

  4. I’ve been playing with the idea of going back to college next year and have definitely been wrestling with the anxiety of it all. Knowing I’m not the only one who experiences this is so comforting!

  5. When my daughter was in college I did see many older people attending. It is the normal here in NY. I don’t think you should feel intimidated at all. Much luck to you on your journey.!!!

  6. I did attend my local community college after I was married and had kids. My kids went to my graduation for my Associates. After that I attended online classes for my Bachelors. It was very hard to juggle both. Research, studying and homework is extremely hard. Being the oldest in class, being the one that didn’t go to the same school as half the class is uncomfortable but you just have to realize why your there and keep going. Grades meant more to me maybe because I was paying but I’m glad it’s over for now.

  7. Iv’e been there and done that. Having that perception and outlook on going to school whatever your age, is the wrong way to look at it. Don’t overthink it, yes you won’t be the same age as majority of the students because they are coming straight from highschool. I met some great people who were younger than me and I still keep in contact with. You’re more mature going in when you wait or have the opportunity to do so and more likely to take your education seriously. Plus you’re more likely to stay and graduate from your program than change your program or drop out.

  8. Thanks so much for addressing this. So many people out there should read this. Its not always easy and your tips are extremely helpful!

  9. Going to college nowadays is a lot different compared from previous years. With the technology around, indeed it has a lot of effect in school and the overall environment. I still believe that having real friends and family to be your support system is important.

  10. Fortunately, I started working after finishing my complete college education. I’m sure it must be pretty stressful going back to college after a wide gap. But as it said that there is no age for learning. Therefore one should always think about fulfilling their dreams!

  11. I know rigt. It is so scary at the beginning, but we need it and we deserve it.
    The most difficult part for me was finding the time to do my homework but when you figure out the best way to do it, you got this!

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