It’s never too late to learn – whether it’s for interest, a change in career or personal or professional advancement. But as an adult it can be daunting to sign up for a course and become a mature student. Questions like, ‘Will I meet the required academic level?’ ‘What new technology is involved?’ and ‘Will I be able to find the time to complete the workload?’ ring in the ears of most mature students embarking on a BTEC, diploma or degree.
However, be comforted in the fact that you’re not alone and with the number of mature students steadily rising year on year according to UCAS applications it looks like adult learning is more popular than ever before. It’s no wonder, either, as it has never been easier for adults with commitments to study, with online learning, the wealth of information provided by the web and libraries open late in the evenings.
Distance learning as a mature student is the easiest way of fitting study into your current life. Whether your commitments are children or/and a job you can if (you’re determined) squeeze in study to your lifestyle too. To ensure success as a mature student there are five components to getting the best grades you can…
Organisation of Home, Work and Study Life
Relevant skills that can help you through your course can be surprisingly second nature to a mature student, just like being used to working a 40-hour week, early mornings or having the organisational capability to juggle several things at once. Having a timetable and being realistic about what you can achieve – and when – throughout the week is paramount to juggling studying and everyday life. Never leave coursework to the last minute as it will add to stress and a feeling of not coping. Plan, plan and plan – it’s the only way to ensure everything fits into the day.
Know What’s Expected of You
Once you’ve signed up to a course (or before if possible) read all the literature thoroughly and know what’s expected of you. Find out how and when work should be submitted, who your tutors are and how you communicate with them; dissect the syllabus, identify areas which you think will be challenging and identify any additional text books you may need. This way you can head off potential problems before they arise and prepare accordingly.
ICT or Information, Communication and Technology
Getting up to scratch quickly with the technological requirements of studying online is incredibly important, no matter what course you chose to do. ICT covers any product that will store, retrieve, manipulate or transmit information electronically. It’s there to make your life easier, so make sure it does and let your computer become your new best friend.
The online distance learning courses at Oxford College all include a module in ICT to ensure everyone is aware of what technologies are available but also what lines of support are there for research. The digital age has made it incredibly easy to study and become savvy with how to find out what you need online – meaning we now all have the flexibility to learn or study from 7 till midnight or 6 till 8am.
Find Real World Friends and Allies
Someone who is going through the same as you can really be a great support when studying online (although real world aside, there are also study groups online, too, for you to share experiences and ideas). On this point, social media is an essential part of the modern learning environment. Apart from following all the leading lights within your chosen subject, you can find Oxford College on Facebook and Google+ and join in the conversation.
One thing’s for sure: once the first couple of weeks are over and your first piece of work has been handed in and marked you’ll certainly feel more relaxed and comfortable about returning to study.
Looking to start your life as a mature student? Check out our list of online courses.