When you have been out of education for a while, making the transition back in can be a daunting process. Though the thought may be exciting, you may also be feeling very anxious about studying at University level. Support is available to those that need it. You might also be glad to know you wont be the only mature student studying for the first time since school. Mature students also tend to work much harder than everyone else.
Many of the younger students will not have the same life experiences or outlook on life that you have gained.
#1 Time Management
This is one of the main things any student has to manage, especially mature students. Whether you are part-time or full-time, you may have other responsibilities such as work, children. Splitting your time equally between studies and personal life is critical.
When you get a study planner, split the workload into manageable sections and then add personal life around that.
Weekly wall planners are an essential piece of kit in the student arsenal. I recommend getting the whiteboard versions with the extra “to-do’s” and “Don’t Forget” spaces on the bottom. Having your full week written out on the wall is a fantastic way to break up modules and time. It also ensures you do not miss anything such as an assignment. If you also use the tick spaces on the bottom, you can mark off what you have done and physically see what is left to do.
You can pickup wall planners from any craft shop, or even Ebay! They cost between £5-£15 depending on size and features.
#2 Study Techniques
There are a lot of study techniques for mature students. I might create another topic on this since the list is quite vast. I feel it would need a whole new post of it’s own. However, I will cover a couple of them.
You will need to tryout a method that works for you. What works for you may not work for the next person. Everybody has their own unique spin on study techniques.
The Pomodoro technique came about in the late 80’s. It involved getting an Egg timer or something similar (even your phone!). You decide on the task you want to carry out. Set the timer for 25 minutes, then get to work until the timer rings! Once the timer rings you take a short 5 minute break. Use this time to decide on the next task. You repeat this four times and take a 30-minute break. If you complete the task before the timer ends. Dedicate that time to back-learning and go through the tougher material.
This method works really well since consistently learning the same subject or topic, does not sink in. It is scientifically proven that regular breaks with short bursts of learning works better.
It is very tempting to get stuck into more than one module at a time. Multi-tasking is a students enemy. Using the weekly planner method above will help you avoid over-lapping and running into the danger zone of multi-tasking. Once you start trying to juggle two tasks together, things will get very messy indeed!
Use the above weekly planner to plan ahead, space your modules out. Don’t try and run two tasks along side each other. You will get confused and bogged down.
Mind maps are a fantastic way to visualize ideas and brainstorm for projects. It is also a way of getting ideas that are stuck in your head down on paper. You start with one main idea. For example a topic for a blog post, then jot down all of your creative ideas using the branches. You can also color code them.
I actually use mind mapping to look for topics to write on this very blog. I start with one main idea then work downwards, eventually I have around 20-30 post topics.
#3 Study Space
A study space away from all distractions is essential for learning. You want to aim for as little distraction as possible. Some students listen to music, which is fine, it helps some but not others. Try to use this space as a mobile-free area. Statistics show, we check our phones every 12 minutes. That is up to 80 times a day!
Try to create a quite space in the home away from everything. Convert a spare room and try to make it as cosy as possible. Only use this space solely for studying. Do not eat or read newspapers in your study space. If you keep this all separate your brain will subconsciously know it is for getting stuck into Uni work only.
This is my top 3 study tips for mature students. Simple yet very effective. The main things you want to keep in mind here is focus. The 3 tips is enough to get you started on the road to learning. It can be a little strange to adapt the methods at first. Without any sort of structure in our Uni life, things would be very difficult. The work is tough enough as it is without having to deal with lack of structure.