University is starting up soon and in Ballymena we know lots of mature students who have signed up for higher education. If you are living in Ballymena it is easy to travel to the University of Ulster Coleraine, or Jordanstown campus or to Queens University. Mature students could be returning to education full time, or day release from their workplace. You may be choosing to go to university for the first time or returning to further your studies. Either way it can be a exciting but stressful time. Here is some advice for anyone about to go back into education as a mature student.

Education – back to school mature students

Education - back to school mature students

Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

1/ Don’t judge the course by the first session – Lecturers and classes often get their timetables until the last minute so the first few days might seem disorganised. Don’t let it get you down things should get better.

2/ Be prepared for changes along the way – Be prepared for the first timetable you get to be amended to suit rooms / labs / lecturers. Don’t make concrete plans until a few weeks in.

3/ Don’t isolate yourself – If you are a mature student in a class of 17 year olds it is tempting just to find a seat in the corner and keep your head down. However don’t isolate yourself too much, you will need to work with others at some point during your course. Chat to your fellow classmates in class and get to know your lecturers too.

4/ Get to the library – Most libraries offer a vast amount of information through their online system. However, it can be very difficult to know where to start. There are staff in the library who are there to show you how to access documents and journals online and they can help you with your reading list.

5/ Don’t leave things until the last minute – Life has a knack of getting in the way when it comes to your studies so it is important not to leave things until the last minute. Just because your fellow classmates haven’t started an essay yet doesn’t mean that you can’t. Often assignments are set out in the handout you get on the first day of class so make sure that you read everything and out the hand in dates into your diary.

6/ Don’t be scared to use your existing skills – Being in a room full of school leavers can be daunting but remember that you have lots of transferrable skills which could give you an advantage. In our experience mature students are more confident in speaking up and asking things in class, they have acquired good social skills with people and more life experience to draw on.

Ballymena Today wish any mature students all the best for their first day in further education. Enjoy your time at university or college.