Never Too Late: Studying at TAFE as a Mature Age Student
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Whether you’re looking to advance your current career or kick-start a new one; studying at TAFE can equip you with the skills and qualifications you need for that next vital step!
But going back to studies as a mature age student can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, especially if it’s been a while since school.
Below, we offer some key tips on how you can master those return-to-study worries and get on top of your TAFE course!
Table of Contents
- 1 Attend Your Orientation
- 2 Proportion of students by age, 2016 (%)
- 3 Don’t Be Afraid of the Young Ones
- 4 Participation Rate of VET Students in Australia
- 5 Enrol in a Study Skills Session
- 6 Brush Up On Your Computer Skills
- 7 Get Essay or Writing Help
- 8 Grab Your Course Guide
- 9 Set Up a Study Space Free of Distractions
- 10 Be Realistic About Your Time Commitments
Attend Your Orientation
Most TAFE Campuses will offer an orientation for new students so it’s best to check your TAFE website to find out when the next orientation is available. Orientations can be great in giving you an overall idea what the campus is like, where your classes will be held and what facilities are available. It also provides a perfect opportunity to meet like- minded people, such as other students returning to schooling at a mature age. Remember, during orientation everyone is in the same boat, so it’s the ideal time to make friends and start establishing yourself amongst your peers.
At most TAFES, orientation is also the ideal time to pick up your books and study materials and also meet your teachers. If you’re completing a TAFE course online, you may still be able to attend an on-campus orientation if feasible. This can be a great way to connect with your campus (even if you won’t physically be there) and meet other students as well. Plus, if your course is blended and does require some form of in-class attendance at a later date, it’s best to familiarise yourself with the campus early.
Proportion of students by age, 2016 (%)
4.2 million students
Don’t Be Afraid of the Young Ones
If you find yourself studying alongside younger school-leavers, and are worried about how to relate and work alongside them; don’t be. Remember, each person is considered a valid student at TAFE, regardless of age or experience. At the end of the day, everyone is there for the same reason so despite what barriers you may feel are in the way, you will always have that goal in common and the rest will come from there.
Give yourself time to get used to the TAFE atmosphere and your classmates. You’ll often find that once semesters kick off, you’ll get to know your fellow students and discussions and dialogue will be open and respectful. Start cultivating relationships by introducing yourself to students in your classes and making the effort to talk to them, even if they are much younger. You may find more in common than you anticipate – and you’ll never know what study buddies or friends you’ll make!
Participation Rate of VET Students in Australia
20 to 24 years
20 to 24 years
Enrol in a Study Skills Session
Many mature age students also struggle with the idea of studying, particularly if it’s been a long time since they’ve been required to hit the books. So make sure to check with your TAFE (or any other institution) to see what Study Skills courses they run. These programs can be excellent in supplementing your studies and can make studying, completing assignments and prepping for exams much easier.
If you don’t come from a background where English is your first language or if your English skills are not up to scratch, you’ll also find many TAFEs offer language courses to help you improve your written and spoken English.
Brush Up On Your Computer Skills
Get Essay or Writing Help
Does your TAFE course involve various essay or report-writing assessments? And have you forgotten everything you used to know about essay writing?
Essay writing courses can also be highly advantageous here. You can consider a more in-depth course if you’re not great with essays or simply a quick refresher course if you need to go over the basics. Others, like teachers, tutors and even study buddies can also offer help if you’re unsure how to approach an essay or report.
Grab Your Course Guide
At the start of a course or semester, you’ll usually be given a course guide. This will outline what you’ll be studying each week, so it’s a great way to gain an overview of what to expect throughout the course. The course guide should also outline your assessments and exams so that you can plan accordingly. If there’s anything you don’t understand about your subject, ask your teacher for clarification.
Set Up a Study Space Free of Distractions
Finally, think about where you engage in your studies when you’re not in class. Will you study at home? On campus? Or somewhere else?
Try to set up a time and space that is free of distractions and interruptions. With kids, pets and even friends, this can be challenging – but aim to be structured with your study sessions. If you can develop a routine, you’ll find your study experience much less overwhelming! Got young kids? Don’t forget that lots of TAFEs also offer childcare services to students.
Got young kids? Don’t forget that lots of TAFEs also offer childcare services to students.
Be Realistic About Your Time Commitments
Juggling work, life, family and studies can be one of the biggest challenges as a mature age student. The important thing to remember is to be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to study. Keep in mind that studying doesn’t only mean class or on-campus time. Studying at TAFE also involves lots of reading, researching, writing and preparing for exams/assessments, so be practical about how much free time you have.
If you think you might struggle, try starting with only 1-2 subjects to begin with or consider studying part-time. This may make things easier for you and will give you an idea of how much you can taken on per semester.
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