Coming back to school a little later in life has its benefits and its detriments. You will probably have to brush up on your math, writing, study, or computer skills.

As a mature student ('Mature' admission eligibility), you have life experience on your side and probably feel more capable of maneuvering your way around your new setting than a student straight out of high school would. You're also more likely to know what it is you want to accomplish at university. At the very least you're focused on your studies.

You might have family demands, such as making sure your spouse has health coverage or getting to child care on time. Even if you don't, your time away from school has a different focus than it does for students right out of high school.

You may find studying with these responsibilities difficult, but something inspired you to come to university and that inspiration keeps you more focused on your studies and makes you more likely to know what it is you want to accomplish.

You'll probably feel isolated at first, but as you progress through your degree everyone else will get closer to you in age and interests. Your cohort will shrink as you specialize in your discipline and you will be able to find other mature (or maturing) students more easily.

If you are a mature student, feel free to email and let us know if you have tips to share too!  In the meantime, check out our tips for Finding Success in University.

Tips from Other Mature Students

  • Meet as many people as you can. It is easy to stick to yourself being that you may be of a different age and have different interests/demands, but meeting people is great for if you want to form study groups, get missed notes, get a new/younger perspective on the world, and share what you have learned in the past.
  • Don’t worry about your age – it’s just a number.
  • Take a tour of Murray library.  Likely you’ll be starting with some electives in Arts and Science, so will spend time in Murray Library.  The librarians have a wealth of knowledge and are eager to share it.
  • Actually go to Math and Stats help and the Writing Centre.  After a 12 year break from university I was worried about writing my first paper and taking stats.  They helped me through my first few papers and my first stats class.
  • Stay active! I cannot stress this enough. It is easy to say "I don’t have time", however, it will prove to be beneficial in boosting your energy and actually giving you more time to focus on your studies, or other things you find enjoyable.  Besides, you’re paying for the membership with your student fees, so you might as well make use of it.
  • No matter how busy your schedule is, set aside time every day for reviewing. Keeping on top of daily notes means you can ask questions or get help while the information is fresh and both you and the prof have time. Be sure to write down and questions or put a star by material that you may have to get further clarification on.
  • If you’re not sure on your study skills, ability to write a research paper, or feel like you need some help with all the technology used now – Student Learning Services regularly offers workshops on a variety of topics.  Be sure to check them out.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions!  Professors are happy to speak with students.  Sometimes it’s best to schedule an appointment or drop in during office hours.  And those younger classmates can update you on technology and current trends.
  • Set goals.  You may feel like you already know what you want to do now that you’ve had some life experience, but setting incremental goals will help make your ultimate goal more achievable.  Setting goals for each class will help you distribute your workload, so you have the time to enjoy life.
  • Investigate what the university has to offer. I am just finding out all of the amazing things that are on campus that many don't take advantage of. There are tonnes of people willing to help point you in the right direction if you're unsure what you're looking for in particular.
  • Volunteer.  As a mature student you likely have many skills and abilities you take for granted.  If you have time, put these skills to good use by volunteering either on or off campus.  You may want to volunteer to confirm that the profession you’ve decided to work towards is for sure a good fit or to establish current references for when you re-enter the workforce or just for fun.

Overall, be passionate and excited about what you're doing. Talk with friends and family members about what you're learning. Most of the time, they'll find the information pretty fascinating, which makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and makes your time spent feel worthwhile because you can share your newly learned information. This will also help you retain information better.

Have fun and enjoy yourself. University is a wonderful opportunity and it will be an experience that you will never regret and never forget.

Tips from Students with Children

  • As of January 8th, there is a Parenting Comfort Room located in the Thorvaldson building in room 127.
  • Plan ahead for the times when your child (or babysitter) is sick, school is closed, or any other child related issue comes up.  Speak with your professor at the beginning of the term to determine if it’s acceptable to have your (quiet, calm) child in class if you absolutely need to, or if it’s preferred that you miss that class and get the notes from a peer.
  • Children are welcome on campus.  If you’re here during prime study time, just be sure to bring something to keep your child(ren) occupied.  Headphones and iPads/Tablets are amazing.
  • Studying with children can be challenging. If your children are older, set aside family study/homework time.  This not only models great learning habits for your children, but also encourages you to keep on top of your classes.  Seneca College has complied a helpful set of tips for studying with children.
  • If you know you’ll have to bring your children to campus, book a study room and plan a child friendly break or end-of-studying-reward at the Museum of Nature Sciences.
  • Kids lose stuff all the time.  If you get home and discover Sammy left his beloved kitty in the Ag Atrium (or library, or bookstore, or…), don’t worry.  Found items are generally returned near to where they were located.  If the building you were in doesn’t have their own lost and found, check out the official Lost and Found and the Facebook lost and found.  As well, some students hand items in to the Information Center in Upper Place Riel.

Student Testimonial

Here’s what one student had to say about his experience as a mature student:

When I returned to University in 2010 as a mature student, I was feeling a bit anxious and intimidated about being back in classes, especially since most of my classmates were in their late teens. I soon discovered that I had nothing to worry about; I felt totally accepted in my classes, and even made some great friends in the process.

I first attended University when I was 17, and I was not ready for the focus and dedication it required. As a mature student, I find that I am much more dedicated to learning, that I really enjoy learning, and, more importantly, that I am totally capable of learning and achieving great success. My life experiences help me with the courses, and give me a different perspective than I had as a teenager. The young students in my classes learn from my experiences, but I also learn new ways of approaching subjects from them, so it is a win-win situation.

My advice to mature students is to embrace the experience, and take advantage of the many opportunities for assistance that the University offers. Don't be afraid to ask questions or to offer opinions and remember...your life experiences give you an edge in many cases and you have already overcome the largest obstacle by having the courage to return to school in order to pursue your dreams. Congratulations and good luck!