Is university tougher for mature students than it is for those of the typical university-going age group?
Deciding to go back to university as a full-time student is undoubtedly challenging for those who have been out of school for several years and who have families, children and other responsibilities to care for.
Despite this, mature students can and do excel despite carrying a heavier ‘life’ load on their shoulders than their younger classmates. Here’s why being older can make you a better university student:
You’ll have less time to procrastinate
Being a full-time student in your late 20s, 30s and beyond can be tough as many adults are juggling life responsibilities. But while more responsibilities means having less time on your hands, it also means less time to procrastinate.
On Yahoo!News, Jessica Ayers wrote that since becoming a mother, she has become a better student:
“Since becoming a mom, I don’t have this luxury [of procrastinating]. My child-free time is very limited, and the few hours I do get to myself are devoted to my studies.
“Instead of putting off a 15-page paper until the last week of class (like the old me would do), I finish it three weeks early. Instead of cramming for a test the day before an exam, I study ahead of time. I have to get stuff done when I can,” she wrote.
You’re smarter than you were when you were younger
According to various studies, our brain continues to develop as we age, with Harvard’s Healthbeat reporting that,“Some cognitive functions become weaker with age, while others actually improve.”
It adds that, “the branching of dendrites increases, and connections between distant brain areas strengthen. These changes enable the aging brain to become better at detecting relationships between diverse sources of information, capturing the big picture, and understanding the global implications of specific issues. Perhaps this is the foundation of wisdom. It is as if, with age, your brain becomes better at seeing the entire forest and worse at seeing the leaves.”
Science aside, on a personal scale, you may find you have a better ability to grasp things or topics as you get older.
You may gain a better perspective on things
Maturity brings with it some pearls of wisdom. So, what would have stressed you out when you were 19 may not seem such a big deal once you’re 30 or older.
For instance, rather than feeling like your lecturer is out to fail you when you get back a paper with a less than stellar grade, you might realise, in hindsight, that your work was not as good as you had initially thought.
As you mature, you might find that you develop a greater sense of accountability for your actions (i.e. Perhaps I didn’t study as hard as I should have for my midterms) rather than pass the blame.
Another upside to being older than your classmates is having more life experiences than them; you’re in a better position to see things from a different perspective and outlook, like how getting a C isn’t the end of the world as you can always work harder the next time around to pull your grades up.