Tips for Mature Students

Getting back into the classroom

If you’ve been away from school for a while, you might be concerned about getting back into it. Don’t worry – you’re not alone.

Many mature students have some worries about returning to school. To help, we put together this list of common concerns you may have and  suggestions to help you overcome them.

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Common stress factors for mature students

I can’t compete with younger students

At NAIT, mature students are often our highest achievers. You already know how to prioritize, how to juggle commitments and how to use your time effectively. You likely have clear goals in mind, and have sacrificed something to come to school.

My memory isn’t what it used to be

While certain memory functions do appear to deteriorate with age, current research is showing there is less deterioration than researchers once thought. As well, practice keeps memory going – and you will get lots of practice here at NAIT! It may take a few weeks to adjust to the pace and load at NAIT. Be patient.

I’m worried about being overwhelmed because I’m taking a full course load

All students feel overwhelmed at some times, and especially during the first semester while getting used to school. Make sure you give yourself enough downtime.

If you continue to feel overwhelmed, there are a few options available to you.

  • Talk to a counsellor for support
  • Take fewer classes to give yourself a lighter course load.
  • Talk about your concerns with your classmates – you’re probably not the only one feeling this way, and getting support from your classmates can help you feel better.
  • Talk to your instructors – they may have advice to help you.

Taking a lighter course load will take me too long

Many students, mature or not, choose to spread their program out over three rather than two years. While in some programs this is not possible, if you are feeling overwhelmed, check with your program head to see if this is an option.

I forget how to do math

NAIT offers free tutoring in math, physics and writing at the Tutorial Centre. By logging into your student portal, you can access the Peer Tutor Registry, which lists tutors you can hire for a fee to help you in specific subjects.

If you have been out of school for more than 5 years, though, you might want to consider upgrading your math. It is one of the skills that is lost most quickly.

I forget how to study

Mature students can learn and remember just as well as younger students. However, getting into a good study routine will take some practice.

NAIT can help. We offer the following study and academic support services:

  • study skills workshops
  • supplemental learning sessions, for help with specific classes
  • counsellors on campus to help with the challenges – academic and other – you may be experiencing

I don’t know how to use computers

Ask your instructor what computer skills will be necessary for your course. If you don’t have those skills, consider hiring a tutor or getting help from a classmate or friend.

I don’t have a computer

The Computer Commons on the 2nd floor of the HP Centre on Main Campus has computers available for you to use.

I’m not sure if I have enough money for school

Making sure you have the money to get through the semester is really important. Financial strain can interfere with your success.

Here are some resources that might help

My family will be neglected

It is true that you won’t have as much time with family as before. Sit down with your significant other and children to work out a plan to divide up responsibilities and to plan for time as a couple and as a family.

Keep in mind that your dedication to school and yourself is good role modelling, and that it will ultimately help your family as well as yourself.

I won’t fit in

You may be the only mature student in your class, but that doesn’t mean you won’t fit in. Try to make friends with some of the younger students. Many of them will enjoy having a mature friend and they may look to you as a mentor.

Develop a support network. While there may not be a lot of mature students in your class, there are many at NAIT who are likely feeling the same way you are.

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