The Mature Student Outlook

The Mature Student Outlook

A checklist for mature Students.

I recently went back to school in part as an effort to work on my writing skills, to sharpen and focus them. The other part of this was that I got tired of surfing from job to job at a minimum wage rate and just barely managing to survive (sometimes not actually able to). I was tired of relying on my fiancee to help bail me out from bills and debts. In January of 2016, I made a conscious decision to get up and head up to the local university to pursue upgrading. By fall of 2016, I was officially enrolled as a student. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

I can remember trying to tell everyone what I had accomplished, and while they were happy for me, they didn’t seem as thrilled as I was. I don’t know, maybe it was because I was overly excited after a decade of not knowing what to do with myself. Looking back, I think I was neither ready, nor did I understand just how much of my life this path would consume. I wasn’t mentally prepared for it, which is why I’m putting out this list.

Being a mature student isn’t a reference to being an older person by any means. Being a mature student is a reference to anyone over the age of 21. It’s a reference to maturity level and it’s a reference to a student who’s entered the schooling system as an adult.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

1) Get to know your learning needs.

Everyone has different ways of learning. While most people are content to sit in a lecture and listen, some individuals may need help assimilating the information in various ways. This was a hard lesson for me, and my marks suffered as a result. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for the help you need if you find you’re having issues. From my own personal experience, a lot of professors and instructors are more than willing to help advise you on where to go and what kind of resources your school has available

2) You WILL make friends.

This is pretty much unavoidable. From things like group projects to standing in line for things, chances are you’ll meet someone that you’ll hit it off with. When I first started attending, I planned pretty much to stick to myself. Fast forward to my second year, and I’m now surrounded by a group of people who have become some of the closest people to me, and I met most of them on campus.

3) Don’t leave things until the last minute.

It is amazing how many students I come across that have let things go until the last moment possible. I’ve been known to do this from time to time, but it usually bites me in the butt every time. Leaving things until the last moment usually leads to sub-par work. Your professor won’t like reading it, you’ll be disappointed because you know it’s not the best you could have done, and this can negatively affect your GPA.

4) Your GPA need to come first.

If experience has taught me anything, it’s that your GPA determines everything while in school. It determines when you graduate, what extra curricular activities you can take part in, traveling abroad, and a few other things. Try to look for GPA boosting courses, put your all into your work and if all else fails, drop the course. At my school, the add/drop date is 2 weeks during regular semester. During this time, you can drop a course, you will get the money back and it will not appear on your transcript. The last day that you can drop a course without getting a penalty for is the last day of class for that semester, but you will earn a W for the course which is, of course, a “Withdraw”.

5) Talk with your boss.

If you’re returning to school as a mature student, chances are you’ll be returning from the workforce. I did after over 10 years. In order to make this work, I actually ended up switching jobs for a better school/work/home life balance. Chances are your boss will understand your wants and your needs, or at least be willing to work with you to help you obtain this goal. Your boss will hopefully work with you to adjust your work schedule in order to facilitate this massive and chaotic change in your life. If your employer is unwilling to work with you, you may need to decide what is more important to you: work or school. Deciding on the latter may mean you need to find new employment opportunities.

6) Adopt an “Open Mind” policy

Experience can be great, especially for a mature student. You have experiences and knowledge to pull from that those individuals fresh out of high school won’t have had the chance to gain yet. The flip side to this is that all that knowledge and experience you have might limit the way you see and experience things. That extra experience can have the unforeseen effect of creating a kind of “closed mind” within you that you may not have been expecting.

7) Know when you should take a day off.

Yes, you’re in school and lessons are important. So is your homework. It can become very overwhelming at the drop of a hat. Self care is important during college and university. You should know when and how to take care of yourself. Everyone has their own thing to make this work. For me, it’s Netflix and glass etching. For others, it’s D&D or going for a nice long walk. Maybe road trips are your thing. When it comes to studying and learning, if you take care of your mind and body, you’ll have a much better time and might even find it fun.

8) Take advantage of that student discount.

Students are poor. This is a known thing. They generally don’t have a lot of money. Students scrimp and save for every little thing they have. Your campus probably has free merchandise giveaways through contests or information booths throughout the year. Sometimes these prizes and rewards are food. Businesses around your city may offer student discounts, so it’s worth checking into. I’ve seen student discounts as high as 25 percent with some businesses. From what I’ve seen, a good portion of restaurants (sit down ones, not fast food) will usually offer 10%-15% off the bill if you show valid student ID, especially if they are geographically close to the campus.

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

Remember: You’ve got this. You’re smart, you’re excited and you’ve got your future ahead of you. You’re making (hopefully) a positive change in your life for the better and the world is your oyster. When all is said and done, you’ll be left standing. You’ll find out you’re a much better person for it.

You go, tiger.

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