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How to survive uni as a mature age student

Vanessa Tobias

Careers Commentator
Heading back to uni? GradAustralia has all the best tips on how to survive uni as a mature age student. Find out more here.

There are many reasons you might have put off going to university. You were actually sane and the thought of going back to study, after literally being forced into schooling since the age of four didn’t seem very appealing, oddly enough. Perhaps you travelled the world, had a family or felt like a change from your current career path for whatever reason. And now you’ve procrastinated long enough, finally got the (lady) balls to apply and oh my sweet baby Jesus, it’s happening. You’re doing it. You’re heading back to uni as a mature age student.

Going to uni no matter what age you are or where you are at in life is scary as shit. It can be even more daunting hitting campus for the first time as a mature age student. Will you have anything in common with the other students? Will you be able to keep up with the techno gadgets and doovey wacks? Will you end up naked, tied to a pole after trying to keep up with the young kids in a beer skulling competition? So many questions. Here are our best tips to surviving uni as a mature age student.

Get your life together first 

And in today’s episode of do what I say, not what I do, you should probably look at sorting your life out before heading to uni in the first place. As a mature age student chances are you’ve established some sort of existence for yourself beforehand. Or you haven’t. You literally could have been living in the roof of your parent's house surviving off their leftovers when they head off to work for all I know. You could be living in my roof for all I know, cos the chances of me hanging out in the same vicinity as known spiders are as likely as Bradley Cooper asking me for my hand in marriage.

Anyway, if you have been living your life, chances are you have a few responsibilities like rent or mortgage payments, part-time work, child care or other commitments. It’s important to work out a university schedule that suits your current lifestyle and full-time studying might not be viable with your current circumstances. Also, your income might change, so you should ensure your finances are in a reasonable position before you begin as well.


Do your homework before you begin 

And you’ll get a gold star for being good, jokes... well you might. Your professors might hand them out to you. I would if I was a professor, but I would also run every lecture by putting on a movie, and hiding under my desk swigging whiskey from my coffee cup. So you probably shouldn’t listen to me anyway. Anyway, it’s important to do your research before you go. There will be a wealth of information online on their website and you can also look into finding groups of people with common interests, book into seeing a personal advisor in student services, and look into further facilities like daycare, chemists, and shops etc. on campus.


Remember your worth 

Whether you’re 25, 45 or 102 when you head back as a mature age student, it's natural to feel like the odd one out, or should I say the old one out (see what I did there, I'm so funny, it’s hard to believe I'm single right?)?!

Anyhoo you might be old enough to have birthed some of these students and your Instagram game might not be as strong as some of the younger generations but don’t forget what you lack in Snapchat skills you make up for in world experience. And on the job experience. And don’t forget you’re all there studying the same subjects and for the same reasons, so you already have a common goal no matter what stage of your life you’re at.

Know your worth

Reach out for help if necessary  

Sometimes because you’re a little bit older it can make you feel that you should already know things and it might hurt your pride a little bit when you don't understand things and have to ask for further explanation. Lucky for me I don’t have any pride or dignity so that’s never a problem, but other people who do, can feel slightly embarrassed. But there is no need. No question is a silly question. If you don't know something, ask.

Also, your outside situation could mean that there are times where you will need extra help and may have fallen behind. Don't forget to ask for extensions or special consideration if you really need one. There is no shame on asking for help if you need it.

Big Bang Theory need help