Whether you are just considering your options for study or you have made a decision about the program you wish to undertake and have begun, there can be a lot to deal with. It is important to remember that every student has been in the same position. Most students have had the same doubts and asked the same questions of themselves as you are possibly doing right now. You can do it!
There are many myths and pre-conceptions about doing returning to study. Many of these have been addressed throughout the You to Uni site but here are some others:
- I must do the program I was accepted into and I cannot change to another one. Many students change programs. This can be for a variety of reasons. They may change their mind about the program, their career goals may change or they may have used a course as a pathway into a preferred program.
- You don’t have to be motivated to succeed at study. Being motivated is an important part of anything you undertake in life, including study. Your previous results are not necessarily an indication of how you will do or how motivated you are. Many students who had average school results thrive when returning to study because of the independent learning environment and their interest in the program they have chosen. If you are struggling to stay motivated there are many supports available to you. Keep in mind why you chose to return to study and remember it’s worth it!
- Most uni students are young. People of all ages study at university. It is very common to have a wide range of ages in any course or program. This enriches the learning experience for everyone as each student has different life experiences to bring to the class.
There are many things you can do to help prepare yourself for further study:
- Even if you are intending to study on-campus, you will need to have a level of computer literacy. If you are not confident using a computer you could check the free workshops offered through your local library or council and get some basic skills before you start university. This will help you navigate education provider websites and make the whole process a lot smoother.
- For most diploma or degree programs a certain level of English will be a pre-requisite. Usually successful completion of Year 12 English or equivalent is required. If you are concerned that you may not meet this requirement consider doing a preparation program like Certificate IV in Adult Tertiary Preparation or a specific English language program like English for Academic Purposes.
- You will need to know how to research, how to reference and how to write for academic purposes. There will be information about all this available through the library of your education provider (and on their website). Additionally, there may be workshops offered through your education provider’s learning centre that you can complete before the academic year commences, during orientation or in your first semester. You could also consider doing a preparation program which will help with your academic literacy including researching, referencing and academic writing.
- Managing your time effectively is important. Use a calendar and develop a study plan so that you have a dedicated time and space to permit you to focus on your course content and assessment.
- Link in with the support services early. There is a lot of information to take in when you first start studying and support services staff can help you navigate your way through.
It is natural to feel challenged or even overwhelmed when you are returning to study. This may not be something you experience when you first start. It can occur part way through your program
when you’re struggling to see the finish line or trying to juggle study, work and family commitments. Your social groups, peers, lecturers and support services staff can help. Most students feel like this at one time or another and other people can be a great support. At such a time it is useful to reflect on why you are returning to study. The investment that you make will surely be worth it in the long term. You will increase your opportunities for interesting and rewarding work and a higher income and gain skills that can build confidence and enhance personal development. Over their working lives graduates on average earn 70% more than those without a post-school qualification.