Student Issues

The 40 year-old student

In yesterday’s article we discussed both the excitement and stress that comes with deciding to enter higher education as a mature student. 
The importance of a positive mind set starting out on your course was discussed along with some tips on how to put your mind set to best use.
Today we will conclude by ascertaining how owning the process can lead you on the fast track to success and also discuss the importance of taking good care of yourself and allowing yourself free time. 
Make it your journey
Taking a vested interest in your progress as you advance through your course can be beneficial in assisting your learning. 
By being reflective you can identify what works for you and what doesn’t, in addition to what your greatest areas of interest are. 
This can help in planning any dissertation you may have to write in your final year. Journaling, blogging or even photographing your experience can help you to look back over your college experience.
Make a point of engaging with the subjects and texts that excite your interests the most. You want to be able to use what you learn in college in the world of work when you are finished so it makes sense to pick subjects that mean something to you. 
If you are sitting in lectures urging the clock hands forward until the class is over, you won’t get the most out of your course. 
If you’re unsure of what to choose, many colleges allow you to sample a number of subjects for the first few weeks in order to assist students in making the right decision for themselves.
Plan from the very beginning what you want your next steps to be after you have gotten your qualification. Having a clear trajectory in mind will inspire you to do your best and to really tailor your education to your own needs. 
Make use of your free time (long summer breaks are ideal) to develop the skills and experience you feel you’ll need when you’re finished your degree. 
Although you may change your mind about the destination over the course of the three or four years in college, none of the skills you develop will go to waste, you never know when you might call upon them.
Aim to do your best. This is your education, one that you’ve chosen for yourself. It is a precious time, so give yourself every opportunity to perform to the best of your ability.
Take time out
Make sure to take some down time from your schedule. With all the added pressures of maintaining work commitments or family life this is very important. 
Students are renowned for partying, however, less publicised is the amount of work that gets done either side of the parties. Though you may not intend to live a ‘student lifestyle’ the work pressures will be just as tough and ensuring that you extricate yourself from that environment on a regular basis is key to achieving your goals. 
There may be a range of clubs and societies available to join in your college. These student run clubs can give you a chance to meet like-minded people and partake in an activity that you really enjoy. 
None of us work to our best ability when we’re running on empty. Again, this leads back to efficient scheduling so that time off is built into your day.
When the inevitable stressful situation arises, it will serve you well to aim to solve the problem before it balloons out of control. 
Finding ways to deal with stress will also be very beneficial, especially around exam time. A gym workout, yoga, mindfulness meditation or a long walk are all options for de-stressing and your college may offer some or all of them on campus.
Exercise, nutrition and adequate sleep are also important to remember when you’re in college. Studying, preparing assignments and revising for exams as well as trying to maintain a home or work life can get overwhelming at times and it is inevitable that maintaining a healthy balance may go by the wayside from time to time. 
Where possible, aim for healthy snack options, many of which are available on all campuses around the country, and opt for a walk while on a study break if it’s dry. 
Keeping yourself fit, healthy and rested will make you feel better able to cope with whatever the day throws at you.
Try to keep an objective approach to assignments and exams. It can be difficult in the beginning to get a grasp of what the desired responses are and this can be frustrating. 
The lecturers are there to help, take feedback when it is offered and seek clarification where necessary. The academic staff want you to succeed and can be very helpful. 
When things go wrong, remember it’s not the end of the world, it’s just one module. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
Perhaps most importantly of all, enjoy it! Before you know it you’ll be donning a cap and gown while wondering where the time went.