Those of you who are regular readers know that I started a university course (Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security. I can imagine the intrigued/bewildered look on your face. It’s the same look I get every single time I tell someone what I’m studying) part time this year. I didn’t crash and burn in the first semester, and am part way through the second semester.
Going from stay at home mom to part time uni student wasn’t a leisurely stroll through the park though, so here are my tips for going back to uni, or as in my case, going to uni for the first time, as a mature aged student.
1. If you’re planning to do a course part time, make sure the course you want to do allows for part time study. Even if the course handbook doesn’t specify, email the advisor to find out. My course wasn’t listed as both part time and full time, but I made the effort to ask and was pleasantly surprised.
2. If studying externally is conducive to your learning style, see if you can do some, or all classes this way. I did one class externally the first semester and one internally, as I am this semester, and it really helped with time management. Not having to travel to the campus more than once per week meant I had more time for actual learning and studying. Instead of sitting in a lecture for two hours, I watched the lecture on my iPad at home whilst doing the dishes. I watched (mostly listened) the weeks lecture every time I did the dishes, which helped all the info sink in and made the mundane task of doing dishes more bearable. As a mom, multi tasking like this is critical or there just isn’t enough time in the week to do all of the uni work, house work, and spending time with the kids and husband. Some campuses have many online university courses available.
3. Figure out your learning style so you can study more efficiently. Several websites have tests like this to help you, and most give suggestions on how to study based on your style.
4. Find out if you need a parking permit to park on campus. At my uni, a parking ticket costs the same amount as an entire semesters parking pass. And security checks the parking lot all the time. A parking fine is not what you need in your first couple days of uni.
5. Find out which groups your university has and join any that you are interested in. It’s a great way to meet peers, and get you involved in university life whilst making you feel like less of an outsider.
6. Realise that you are not an outsider. There are so many mature aged students. There may only be 11 people doing my particular course, but I’m fairly certain that we are all mature aged. External classes are particularly high in mature aged students.
7. If you have kids, talk to Centrelink about your eligibility for childcare rebates. As a student in NSW, you are entitled to get 50% of childcare fees back if you meet certain conditions and study hours.
8. Most campuses have on site childcare with reduced fees for students, which could obviously be quite helpful.
9. Talk to your partner or friends about what you learn to help it sink in. I’m not sure that Aaron was very interested in hearing all about the biodiversity of life on Earth, but he humoured me anyway, and it helped me retain the info better.
10. Find out where your lecture theaters, and other classrooms are before your first session so you don’t wander around lost and end up finding it late, opening the door, and having everyone look at you as you enter when the teacher is in the middle of speaking. Plus you’ll feel less nervous if you know where you’re going.
*This post was brought to you by Swinburne University
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Copyright 2013 Sheri Thomson