Suzanne is a mature-aged, Creative Writing student at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and shares her story and advice for anyone else going back to study as a mature-aged student.
Have you ever been told you're ‘too old’ to study? Does it matter if you ‘will never use it’? Does all study have to be for a career? Allow me to give you a resounding no.
My name is Suzanne and I am a mature age student. Very mature (well, chronologically anyway).
Studying at University of the Sunshine Coast
I recently enrolled with University of the Sunshine Coast to study the Bachelor of Arts Creative Writing. Why? Because I want to. Because I have always wanted to write. Life however had other plans. Parental expectations - you need to do a proper degree. You will never get a job with an ‘arts’ degree. Workplace expectations - you need a masters, you need a diploma etc.
Finally I am studying for me.
Do I have time for it? Hahahaha no! I make time to manage the study because I absolutely feel enriched, expanded, engaged and rewarded with every module, with every reading.
I could bore you with a laundry list of the competing demands on my time, but suffice to say I work, I run a farm, I have show dogs, I run a small business, I volunteer with a Dog Therapy group and I have a husband who runs his own business and needs administrative support. Are you tired yet? I am. It is too easy in life to say I will study when… the kids grow up, I retire, etc.
Suzanne decided to study again, despite her many competing demands [Image provided]
Please know now that life is short. Start now. Study now. You will make it work.
What can I recommend to make it all fit? Download everything you can. Every application every reading, every module. Don’t rely on the university, the server, your internet connection or your device cooperating when you find a gap to study. If you have it on every device and a downloaded copy, you will find gaps to study (read, take notes) while waiting. Waiting in line, waiting for others, waiting at events.
Use your free resources
Use every opportunity afforded to you for help. Studiosity is an incredible resource where you can get personalised feedback on your work. The suggestions and advice will reform your skill set.
Attend all of the sessions offered in O week
It might seem onerous at the time; it will repay you in multiples. These sessions are jam packed with tips, ideas and ways to make your study easier.
So many younger students (myself included) are/were reluctant to ask questions for fear of looking silly. We are all new to the subject or we wouldn’t be there. Please ask. It can save you hours of wasted time.
Do not wait for circumstances to be ‘right’ to study
I do not have a perfect study set up. I do not have a study space. I have studied in a paddock nursing a sick animal, I have studied in hospital beds due to a health issue letting me down. I have an iPad which is my entire computing power. This can be challenging as you are forever moving between pages and word. You don’t have a big screen or even a keyboard, but you can make it work.
Suzanne often shares her study space with her furry friends [Image provided]
I study at the dining table as our house is tiny. Really tiny. It is the only flat space available to perch the iPad and reams of paper. Have a box that you can scoop everything into when your family/flat mates need the space. That way everything is together in the one spot when you need it next time.
Learn to schedule your day (and night if needed)
And make sure you include all the key things you need to do. In particular giving attention to those important to you. I don’t even attempt to study until I have run the dogs, fed the livestock, replied to urgent emails and phone calls, put a load of washing on, taken something out of the freezer for dinner, put the rubbish out and had a coffee with my husband before he races out the door in the morning. Why? Any niggly issue not attended to before studying will distract you, anyone not given their own piece of your attention will resent you and attempting to do anything with hungry and /or energised dogs or children will destroy your sanity.
Multitask where you can.
Put your lectures on in the background while you clean. See if you can talk to text your assessment piece while you prepare dinner.
It is worth it. Sure it is hard to study as an older student, but you bring a wealth of experience, confidence, knowledge and life skills to your study. You will understand so much more than you ever did decades earlier. Books you read at 18 will not even seem like the same text at 48.
You will learn far beyond the curriculum by engaging with your fellow students.
Even if you never intend to turn your degree into an income producing tool- study for you.
For your spirit, for your passions, for you.
Find out if your education provider offers Studiosity here.