If you’ve arrived at this article, we’re sure we don’t have to tell you twice. So we’ll just say it once; life as a mature student is a very different beast to that of an immature one. No (or certainly less) nights of beer pong and banter. A distinct lack of late night liaisons with similarly lonesome souls. Much less of the sleeping through alarms, and many more of the early nights tucked up in bed with a Horlicks. Indeed, while being a fresher focuses on recreation as much as revision, the life of an older student is more about finding the right mix of employment and learning. Do it right with these; our 5 IDEAL tips for balancing work and study for mature students.
AN ASSET, NOT AN INCONVENIENCE
First and foremost, it’s a sad truth that you’re going to need to get your manager (if you have one) on side and understandable about your decision to combine study with work. This is because it’s likely you’ll be requiring a little more flexibility than normal from your colleagues and seniors to fill in the gaps which you’ll inevitably be leaving to be at university, completing deadlines, attending seminars and the rest. The best way to achieve this understanding is to emphasise that your studying equates to one of the strongest forms of personal and professional development, and will lead you to become more of an asset to the company in the long run.
SEEK A COURSE WITH FIXED HOURS EACH SEMESTER
With each new semester comes total upheaval of your schedule. When trying to get into the groove and combining work with study, this can be a real nightmare. Many courses can change class days and times each term, meaning your availability for employment will be constantly changing in tandem. This does not bode well for steady, stable work. So, prioritise those courses and classes which promise fixed hours for the whole calendar year. Your company will be far more understanding if they don’t need to constantly shapeshift to fit you in.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR DOWNTIME
Time management, in terms of study and work, is one of the essential skills learnt and perfected at college and university. It’s a little tougher when you have more responsibilities and demands to balance as a mature student, but it can still be perfected, make no mistake. The key, of course, is finding that happy medium.
Great time management, in essence, comes down to advance planning and scheduling ahead in terms of things outside of your work and study, whether that means dedicating a set time every week to doing laundry or batch cooking to making sure you’ve got enough coffee in to see you through the week without several trips to Costa (other cafe merchants are available). Make the most of your downtime by using it to prepare ahead for the busier times of the week.
DO AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE ONLINE & REMOTELY
Some days we wake up and everything just seems to go wrong from the moment we prize apart our eyelids. Toothpaste on your freshly ironed shirt, coffee spilt down the replacement, rain with no umbrella and a car that won’t start. Instead of having to force ourselves out of bed to attend a class, or arriving late, consider studying remotely to save on the commute (and getting ready) time. These stolen few extra minutes can be invaluable when you have the pressure of both work and study to contend with.
The only issue with 100% remote study is the lack of a library and resources to assist in your study programme and deadline completion. Fortunately, these days the internet has near endless points of reference and digitised literature to help you. Should you need guidance on paper writing, there are templates, blueprints and even completely completely free essays online to help inspire you.
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
Even at the busiest times, it’s incredibly important to fit in enough time to relax and unwind – battling stress is as common a part of studying as opening a textbook, and with the added pressures of work, nothing helps to fight it more than allowing yourself time to switch off.
Giving yourself some space from both the books and the desk will allow your brain to recover and process information in the subconscious, meaning you’ll be able to perform far better when it comes to writing those essays and assignments. Exercise is a great way to unwind and relieves stress; join a dance class, play football with friends or even just head off into the woods to immerse yourself in nature – the key is to enjoy yourself and make sure you feel relaxed.