How to Prepare for University as a Mature Student

Heading back into education as a mature student can be daunting - follow our four top tips to help you readjust to life as a student.

At what age are you considered a ‘mature’ student? 30? 25? 

In fact, anyone who starts their studies over the age of 21 is defined as a mature student. Are you heading back into education? You’re not alone. The number of mature students attending university is growing every year, with more people making the move to change their career path. Wondering how to prepare for university as a mature student? And are there any benefits for mature students when it comes to education? Get answers to your questions with our guide below. 

Two women looking at an iphone together

Re-entering the world of academia can be intimidating or thrilling, depending on how you look at it. But the important thing to remember is that it’s never too late to pursue something you’re passionate about. 

At Arden University, we have students from all walks of life, many of whom are mature students with careers and families to consider before diving head-first into a degree. With that in mind, here are our top tips on how to prepare for university as a mature student: 

1. Prepare a timetable

As a mature student, it’s likely you’ll have other priorities to balance alongside your studies. Perhaps you’ve got a part time job to juggle with learning? Maybe you’ve got busy family life? If you’re feeling anxious about how you’re going to manage your time effectively, try preparing a rough timetable to help you visualise how a typical week will look when your studies begin. 

Taking some time for yourself is important, so don’t forget to account for some well-deserved downtime between the hours you’ll spend studying and working. After all, being a mature student doesn’t mean that your university lifestyle has to be any different. You’ll still get to meet lots of new people, take part in any extra-curricular activities or join campus clubs and societies. So try and spare a bit of time to really get stuck in with university life. 

2. Reconnect with your inner student

No matter how many years you’ve been out of the education system, take some time to reacquaint yourself with skills such as referencing, note-taking and essay planning. 

Jogging your memory before your course begins will help you feel more confident once you return to the classroom - virtually or otherwise. If you’re studying with Arden, you’ll benefit from sessions designed to reintroduce you to these skills, so be sure to make the most of them. 

3. View your extra years in a positive light 

While it can be difficult not to feel a little left behind, studying later in life can actually be a blessing in disguise. If you’ve racked up a few years of workplace experience, this will make it much easier to apply your learnings to real-life situations and reflect on what you’ve been taught. 

As a mature student, you’ll also have had longer to consider things younger students may overlook (such as return on investment), rather than rushing to choose a degree and regretting it a few years down the line, when you have a clearer idea of what you want in life. 

The fact that you’ve had the opportunity to think long and hard about the part your education will play in your future can only be beneficial, so don’t worry about being a bit late to the party!

Mature student taking notes in a classroom

4. Never forget to ask for help

Adapting to a new situation will require some work, and we have a dedicated support team on hand to help you with any non-academic related questions or issues you have, from simple tasks such as accessing our online learning portal, to more substantial concerns such as mental health issues or personal circumstances. 

Your tutor will always be happy to answer any course-related questions you have, so don’t feel like you need to hold back if there’s anything you’d like to know more about. At this point, you know that no one is an island, so don’t be afraid to create a strong support network for yourself before taking the plunge back into university.


5. Set budgeting goals

One of the main things to prepare for university is your finances. As a mature student, you may have already done an undergraduate degree in the past, which means you’ll need to think about second degree funding.  But even if this is your first degree, it’s likely that you’ve already got monetary commitments and other things to pay for, such as bills, rent, a mortgage, a car…The list goes on. 

However, there are many financial benefits for mature students available, including loans, grants and bursaries, so you should never let the expense of university stand in the way of your future. 

To make it all a bit easier, set yourself a budget every week and try to stick to it. But we won’t judge you for spending a few pennies extra on a night out after acing an assignment! 

Benefits for mature students

It’s understandable to feel a little overwhelmed or stressed about the idea of kick-starting your education again. But there are actually plenty of perks to being a mature student at university, such as:

Having a career plan: As a mature student, you’ll often have a much better idea of what you want to study and where you want to go in life. This means you’ll choose a degree that you’re exceptionally passionate about, making it easier to be more career-focused when you graduate. 

Flexible entry requirements: Some of the best universities for mature students offer more flexible entry requirements. So when it comes to being offered a placement, your application will often be given special consideration. You’re also more likely to have appropriate work and life experience that contributes to your application, making you an obvious choice for the course. 

Higher employability: Graduates can struggle when entering the job market because employers want more experience and qualifications from them, whereas mature students can take much more advantage of this requirement. If you choose to study part-time, you’ll also have the opportunity to work while you study, proving yourself to be a professional and dedicated individual.

Now you know a bit more about how to prepare for university study as a mature student, it’s time to start weighing up your options and making those big decisions. Wondering how an Arden degree could fit around your responsibilities and help you take the next step in your career?