How to Survive as a Mature Student in Learning

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Anyone over 21 is classed as a 'mature student' at college or university. Worried about how you'll fit into student life at an older age, check out our advice.

1. Use your life experience

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Being slightly older than many of the students on course does have advantages. Use your life experience - whether it's from previous study, work experience or family life - to your advantage. Focus on the skills you've learned to succeed in previous areas and apply them to your new course. For example, you definitely had to work to deadlines in your last job - make sure to bring that drive to your university or college assignment. All that planning you did for your gap year, use those organisational skills to prioritise your workload.

2. Remember, teenagers are people too

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At Young Scot we know the amazing contribution that young people of all ages make to society, and we've seen how well young people ranging from ages 11-26 can interact and work together. You might feel that most of your fellow students are quite a bit younger than you, if you've been out of school for a few years, but don't let yourself feel isolated or different. Your classmates will be a mix of ages with various backgrounds and interests, and once you get chatting you won't even notice the age difference. 

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help

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The first essay or presentation you have to do when you start a new course may seem daunting, but don't let it overwhelm you. It's all about tapping in to skills you previously used - the uni or college wouldn't have accepted you if they didn't think you were capable. If you're struggling, ask for help. Lecturers will be happy to listen to your concerns and the institution will have dedicated staff to make your transition back into studying as easy as possible.

4. Get organised

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Starting university or college often means having to juggle the important things in life - work, family, relationships and so on. Get into a routine and try and get on top of your workload. Set aside time from your studies as well as time for your other commitments (including your Sunday naps!)

5. Get involved

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Immersing yourself in student life will give you a greater sense of belonging in your new study environment. There will be loads of clubs and societies for you to join, eager to attract a diverse set of new members. There might even be a mature students society which you could join. If you're really struggling to get to grips with the social side of studying, why not set up your own society to meet other people with similar interests.

Going to uni or college when you're a couple of years older is a big decision, and an exciting step towards building the future you want. Good luck, and enjoy!