Top Tips for Mature Students

Our top tips

The first thing for a prospective mature student to understand is that you are not alone. Over half of our students are classed as mature (over 21 at the beginning of their course).

As well as being among the most academically successful, mature students bring valuable experience and enthusiasm to our university community.

The pages within this section will hopefully provide you with some useful advice and guidance.

Give yourself time to settle in and find your feet

Don't feel like you have to hit the ground running and be able to manage everything perfectly from the first moment. Don't be too hard on yourself. Find time to settle in and find your feet.

You will need to be organised

Throughout the semester when you attend lectures and seminars you will be writing notes and given lots of handouts, make sure you organise and file your work for each module into the topics/themes covered. Then when you come to revise at the end of the year all your work will be in order and it will make revising a lot easier.

Work to your strengths

Ask yourself what time of day you find it easiest to work, and in what environment, how long can you concentrate without needing a break? Then plan your work accordingly. Remember to keep some time for yourself. You will need to keep a balance in your life.

Make connections

Making connections on campus can help you feel more settled and that you belong. Get to know people on your course, no matter what their age, this can help you feel more socially connected and enable you to chat with other students about assignments or set up study groups.

Recognise your maturity as an asset

Your experience of life, both in education and the wider world, will bring an extra dimension to seminar and tutorial groups. Bear this in mind, but take care not to dominate group discussions unnecessarily.

Face your fears

For some mature students, a big fear is walking into the lecture hall to find they are the oldest person in the room. Such concern is understandable, but too much emphasis on this will only increase anxiety. It's important to be realistic. You may appear older than other students, but though you may be nervous, everyone else is new to the institution as well.

Involve your family and friends in your new life

Going to university will have an emotional impact on you and your family. As you grow in confidence and self-belief, you may become more assertive in the way you deal with everyday situations. Ensure those close to you don't feel excluded by this, by involving them in what you do.

Further information

Students have a number of options to consider when thinking about which Accommodation to choose.

Halls of residence are a great option for many new students and we reserve blocks on each of our halls for mature and returning students.

Most first year students live in halls because they're just a short walk away from our campuses and they're a great way to make friends. They also offer you safe and good value accommodation with other students.

However, halls aren't for everyone. If you have lived on your own before you may not enjoy sharing a kitchen and bathroom. Halls of residence can also be noisy on occasion - even in the mature students blocks. If you would prefer not to live in halls we recommend that you chose a house or flat that is university approved.

If you have specific requirements from your accommodation - because you will be sharing it with your family for instance - we recommend that you contact the Private Housing Office to discuss this.

Many mature students are worried that they may struggle to make friends at university or that they may be the only mature student on their course.

Our student community is large and diverse. It is best if you give yourself time and take advantage of the many opportunities to meet new people that you will have.

If family commitments make it difficult to meet other students outside class you can use the University and Union of Students' Facebook pages to make and keep in touch with your new friends.

You can also make new friends before term starts.

If you have children under 15, you may be eligible for up to 85% of your actual childcare costs throughout the whole year. Find out more.

Day nurseries

Day nurseries provide care and a space to play and learn in groups for children under 5, though some nurseries cater for slightly older children. Day nurseries are open all day but not evenings or weekends. OFSTED registration is compulsory and all nurseries must be registered with their local authority. They are inspected by OFSTED (the Office for Standards in Education) every three to four years.

Other kinds of child care

Child minders ‐ self‐employed child carers who are Ofsted registered. They will look after your child in their own home. Age restrictions and opening hours can vary and should be checked with the individual child minder.

Playgroups ‐ sessional play work, usually of about three hours duration, catering for children of ages 2 to 5. Again, Ofsted registration is compulsory.

Nursery classes/pre‐school ‐ sessional or all day care for pre‐school children. These facilities are usually open during school hours, but in term time only. Ofsted registration is compulsory.

Crèches ‐ occasional care for children under 8 years. Ofsted registration is compulsory.

Out of school clubs ‐ play and care for school age children before and/or after school hours. Ofsted registration is compulsory if catering for children under 8 years.

Babysitters ‐ care for your child in your own home. Flexible hours are usually available. Babysitters are not legally required to have qualifications, training, Criminal Records. Bureau checks or Ofsted registration. Parents or carers are responsible for checking all claimed registrations and references though there are some certificates available, such as the British Red Cross certificate.

For full information of other childcare options in your area, go to Childcare Link website listing all forms of local and national childcare.

It is important to talk to your family and friends about how university is going to affect you. It is better if everyone understands in advance how studying will impact on your life and the time that you will have available. That way you can properly plan ahead.

Remember that you will need time to study and complete assignments, as well as time to attend class. Be realistic about what time you will need and agree with your family when you will do this - allow for some flexibility both ways.

Plan around busy times of the year - you will need to be even more focused approaching assignment deadlines and exams.

Remember also that studying can be a tiring activity that takes up a lot of energy. Plan your week to ensure that you get a chance to rest. 

You should also be aware that going to university may change the way you see the world. You may go through a period of questioning things you have always believed or thought true. This can be a worrying development for partners, family members and friends.

Reassure them that you are still the same person and take the time to explain to them why your views may be changing. If they are included this can be an exciting time for them as well. If they are excluded they may feel you are no longer interested in your old life or in them.

Many mature students who have been out of education for a period of time worry about their ability to return to academic study. If you would like to brush up your academic skills, you can find details of our study skills classes and study mentors scheme.

Remind yourself of your motivation

When times seem hard, try to remember why you chose to study in the first place. These thoughts can sometimes get lost in the whirlwind of the first few weeks.

Booklists

Booklists are meant to help you with your studies, not confuse you. It is important to find out which books on your list are main texts and/or essential reading. Ask your tutor if it isn't clear from the list. They are there to help you.

Learn to discard information

This is difficult to do, but you can't use all the notes you take in one piece of work. Keep to what is relevant; the rest of the notes will be useful for revision.