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Adult learning – PG studies as a mature student

Adult learnersThe truth is you're never too old to become a postgraduate student. In fact, many postgraduate courses want to have a wide range of students on their courses to bring a variety of experiences to the discussions and tutorials, so mature students are more than encouraged. Once you've decided you want to be a mature postgraduate student you want to ensure that your application is going to be successful, and to make sure this happens you should start your application early. If you don't have quite the right qualifications, then you'll want to know if your experience is enough to gain entry to the course. This will give you time, say another year or two, to develop those skills and gain the qualifications that the university want from you. For some reason mature students tend to apply closer to the deadline than recent graduates, so applying earlier will mean there are more places up for grabs when you apply.

Now let's look at the reasons why it's a great idea to embark on postgraduate studies as a mature student.

You'll be better equipped for postgraduate study

There are lots of ways that being a mature student at the postgraduate level is advantageous. You're used to juggling multiple responsibilities. Many mature students have lots going on in their lives and studying is just another responsibility added to the list. If you are caring for others or working full-time while studying, then you should make sure that your lecturers know your circumstances, this way if you or someone else become ill, for example, they know you need extra time and there are no surprises for them or you. However, all of this responsibility means that you have time management skills that will be without compare and you'll be able to plan to complete assignments by getting that research done. If you have a lot of external responsibilities and commitments outside of your course it may be worth considering studying a part-time postgraduate program rather than a full-time one to ensure success.

Money is (hopefully) easier

Managing money is another skill – just like time management – that hopefully improves with age, and those postgraduate student loans don't seem quite as daunting once you've had some experience of other financial products. On the other hand as a mature student you will probably have been working for a few years so you might be able to fund your studies entirely yourself. For a few lucky postgraduate students their employer could even be funding their studies, but you will probably have to work for your employer for at least two years after you have graduated otherwise you will owe them money. 

You've gained a sense of perspective

Everyone fails at some point and with a bit of luck along with hard work you won't be failing anything during your postgraduate studies. But, if you do, you now know that it's not the end of the world not to get the grades you were expecting. There is always something you can do, along with resitting exams and essays, so keep talking with your tutor if you don't do as well as you hope to. If you're undertaking postgraduate study for work, then find out which modules your employer needs you to complete and concentrate on these if the going gets tough. The key is to communicate with everyone so that you never get a nasty surprise. 

You recognise opportunity 

Once you've worked for a while you start to learn to recognise opportunity when it comes along. There will be lots of chances to learn extra skills or gain new experiences while you study, it's just a matter of participating in them. It takes maturity to know the opportunities to take up and those that you can afford to pass on. For example, most universities have events and courses on setting up in business, so if that’s in your field of interest and you want to stretch those entrepreneurial skills make sure you see what is on offer. 

You’ll be in good company

Studying as a mature student is becoming increasingly popular, so you definitely won’t feel alone if you embark on your PG studies a little bit later in life. The number of mature students in the US has been steadily increasing, in fact over the last 50 years the amount of mature students has trebled, as this table illustrates.

Mature Students



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