MythBusters: mature age student edition

After investigating some of the misconceptions mature age students have about returning to study, the Navigator team debunk these myths and take a look at support services available.

Studying at university can be a daunting prospect. We get that.

What if I don’t make friends? Am I smart enough? What if I’m the oldest in my class? – sound familiar?

You’re not alone. Chances are someone else is experiencing the exact same doubts you are.

No one gets the hang of tertiary study straight away. Often it’s a trial and error process – it’s about figuring out what works best for YOU.

Mature age students – Navigator has your back. We made it our mission to bust the myths surrounding returning to study, and help you tackle those study anxieties and settle in at The University of Newcastle.

We talked to Student Transition Officer, Alison Hillier, who shed some light on the facts of returning to study.

Myth 1I will be the oldest in my class.

Fact: There is a chance you may be the oldest in your class. BUT, more than 40% of students studying at The University of Newcastle are over the age of 25. So you definitely won’t be on your own.

“You’re never too old! I know a woman who did Open Foundation in her 50s, undergraduate in her early 60s and her PHD before 70,” said Ms Hillier.

So if a 70 year old can do it – anyone can!

Myth 2: I will be surrounded by school-leavers who already have all the academic and social skills to be successful in their studies.

Fact: Part of Ms Hillier’s role at Academic Support is providing classes to help mature age students learn and study effectively.

“A lot of the time mature age students feel that they have to apologise for not being confident with writing, reading and particularly technology, and it can take a while for them to develop confidence in their capacity to work to the high standards they set for themselves,” said Ms Hillier.

Guess what: mature age students actually tend to outperform their younger classmates.

“Often the social, organisational and resilience skills are exactly what is needed to be a good student, and translating these into academic situations means mature age students are not just as good but sometimes even more successful than school‑leavers!”

Myth 3Balancing study with other commitments will be too hard.

Fact: There’s no denying balancing study with work, family and sleep can be difficult. But there are a number of things you can do to make it manageable.

Treat studying like a job.

“If you’re studying full time, uni is a full-time job. It’s 40 hours a week. That means your face-to-face time, your study time, your revision, preparing for assignments, library research, meeting up with study group people,” recommended Ms Hillier.

Don’t forget to make the effort to come study on campus. It’s proven that students who are more engaged with the university and take advantage of the services on offer perform better.

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