Adult Students: Tips for Going Back to University

The other night I was discussing what I would do if I did in fact finally win the Euro Millions roll over. Surprisingly, one of my friends said she would head back to University, after all studying is such a privilege and what a difference it can make studying as an adult. Our very own SLiNK member, Becky Barnes recently completed her degree as an adult and on my own degree a decade ago there were several mature students who threw themselves into the course with much more direction and gusto, knowing what they wanted out of life far more than us fresh faced teens. I often reminisce about my days studying – it really is a time period where anything felt possible and I would love to do it again with the maturity, hindsight and knowledge I have now. So if you are thinking of studying again, don’t be scared, grab the opportunity and here are some top tips to go with it!

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Many adults nowadays are taking advantage of the many innovations in Internet Technology and the various tools provided by the world wide web, including the social media and online study courses, to return to University and further their academic education. Some may want to look for a better job and even pursue a different career. Despite the social criticism against adults going back to attend university, the percentage of those who choose to return to their University studies is increasing world-wide. Why shouldn’t adult students pursue the advantages brought about by innovation if their current job situation is unbearable to them or they have simply had enough of their career? This is, after all, one of the many benefits that innovation brings when technology merges with the needs of society as a whole and the search for new jobs and better careers is greatly facilitated when compared to previous decades. The global economic crisis is another reason why adults may want to return to University, as many may have lost their jobs as a result and the times indicate that they need a fresh start.

Many of them may decide to stay at their current job and apply for online courses at accredited online Universities, so that they can hone their current job skills during their spare time and add new experience to their resume in hopes of climbing the company ladder and getting promoted to a better position within the organization or their career area. Online Universities are becoming very popular because all the classes can be followed online, no physical presence is required, textbooks and materials are free and accessible online even through virtual libraries, and you can go back and revise any virtual class you might have missed because the conferences and lessons are all recorded. Further, it makes it much easier to connect with professors, tutors, student organizations and resources because it drastically reduces the level of bureaucracy—setting up meetings on Skype with instructors and participating in class chat groups is easy and time-saving for all parties. For adult students there are also many perks offered by online universities, such as career development loans, child care, career counselling, and courses to help you catch up on your writing skills and current technology. If you are a parent, or a working parent, online study enables you to schedule your courses around your daily routine, without worrying about missing the next PTA meeting or being late to pick up your kids from school. You can attend evening or night classes or go over the material of previous lessons while your kids play videogames in the next room and your husband does whatever it is fathers do these days. Most importantly, through online study you can earn your degree or certifications much faster than through traditional universities.

Networking with other adult student organizations is the first step towards ensuring you connect with the right sources that can advise you on the best courses to choose and how the online accreditation system works in non-traditional universities. Check out the school’s website and search under the keyword ‘non-traditional student’ to find all the resources you need. There are part-time as well as full-time curriculums, full online programs and even blended degree programs that facilitate the process of transferring credits from prior academic institutions. Online universities, such as the NC Italian University of London (nciul.co.uk), have a great advantage of being more open to credits acceptance. You can even opt to ‘test drive’ some of the classes before committing to a full online degree program.  For this, there are many free online college-level courses that can help you test out the format before making your decision.

Revise your study skills and become acquainted with some good study tips! If you have been away from the academic world for a while, you may need to brush up on your study techniques and writing skills—including current writing formats which may have changed since the last time you attended university, as well as the latest IT/web tools. Review which learning style best fits your preference: are you a visual, auditory or tactile learner? If you are a visual learner you may find that using diagrams and charts is the best way for you. Auditory techniques like having soothing music playing in the background may help you focus and concentrate more, or speaking aloud and repeating to yourself the material might be another excellent strategy. Tactile learners find that some good exercise breaks are the best solution, or need to fiddle with gadgets in order to keep their attention level on key, so if you fall in this category you might want to have a stress squeeze ball handy and plenty of pens and pencils at hand to chew on!

Lastly, keep an open mind and remember that you are not the only adult choosing to return to university studies. Tutors, Instructors, career counsellors will always be there to help you for any need and will introduce you to the online degree or curriculum program that is right for you. Get involved with the adult student community and participate in campus activities; direct contact is essential, because you will meet people from all different age groups that can impart valuable lessons which you may not find on social media.

image credit Static Pexels

SLiNK

-- Editor-in-Chief SLiNK Magazine

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