Applied Psychology

Why Being a Mature Student is Great!

Sep 01, 2020 | By Saranne Durham
Why Being a Mature Student is Great!

There are many advantages to studying as a mature student with life experience under your belt. Research shows that it is an opportunity to reinvigorate your career and bolster life in general. While also having the added advantage of making you more appealing to recruiters and employers.

If you’re considering studying as a mature student, here are some benefits that may convince you it’s the right decision.

Three Advantages Mature Students have over School-leavers:

  1. You know why you want to study what you’re studying. This translates into better focus and motivation while studying which usually results in better outcomes.
  2. You can better contextualise what you’re learning into practical, instead of theoretical, life experience which enables better understanding and remembering of material.
  3. You will be more employable as you have the illusive combination of years of work experience and focused learning with an upskilling intention.

“Mature students tend to perform better than school leavers.”

Essentially, mature students tend to be highly motivated and they therefore have the advantage of a greater success rate over their younger peers. According to most academic staff, mature students generally tend to be more focused, with better problem-solving skills, are more independent and better able to articulate original ideas. They start with a fire in their bellies, knowing what they want out of a course, which means that they are better able to deal with the ups and downs that are an inevitably part of studying.

Five Advantages Gained by Going Back to Study

  1. Career Boost:  Further learning will help hone your skills, making you even more of an asset to your employer. Researchers have found that the learning process stimulates the creative side of the brain, improving problem solving abilities and encouraging innovative thinking – both highly sought-after skills in the modern workplace.
  2. Increased Confidence: Formally applying your mind to new concepts and ideas will help you break out of your comfort zone and hit the refresh button on your life. Rediscovering skills and qualities or achieving lifelong personal goals is an enormous confidence-booster and will do wonders for your self-esteem.
  3. Improved Mental Aptitude: Research has found that the brain grows and changes positively until a person’s early 30s, after which it begins to naturally deteriorate. However, neuroscientists have discovered that by exercising your mind, you can counteract this effect. Therefore, you can improve or even grow, your brain at any age.
  4. Enables a Change in Direction: As well as being a great addition to your CV, education is key to making a career transition. As more people extend their working lives into a later age in life, you now do have time to study and switch tracks to do something you’ve always wanted to or have discovered a passion for.
  5. Enhanced Social Life: Studying provides an easier way to meet new people with challenging thoughts and ideas. This will shift you out of your comfortable weekly routine and into a space where a fresh outlook of life is expected. Online and distance learning means that fellow students can be based anywhere in the world, providing you with the opportunity to build friendships and an expansive multi-country network to tap into once your studies are completed.

“Most people do their best work later in life.”

Switching Careers Can Be Very Successful

While athletes tend to peak young, most people do their best work later in life. Discovering your passion and then enabling yourself to work in that space can lead to immense satisfaction as well as success. Did you know that:

  • Author Alexander McCall Smith penned his first novel, No 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series, when he was 50 years old. It is world famous. At the age of 57, in 2005, he changed careers from a Professor of Law at the University of Edinburgh to be a full-time author. Today he has well over 100 books to his name and continues to be a prolific author of fiction.
  • Harland Sanders, best known as Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Colonel Sanders, was a fireman, farmer, street conductor and insurance salesman. At 40, he started serving fried chicken at a Kentucky service station. Eventually his company grew to be the world’s biggest fast-food chicken chain.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder was originally a teacher who later helped her husband farm. At 65 years old she published her first novel Little House in the Big Woods. Thereafter she wrote the Little House series, of which the well-loved book Little House on the Prairie is part of.
  • Vera Wang, world renowned fashion and bridal designer, switched careers at 40. When she started out, she didn’t know anything about designing dresses. She started her career as a competitive figure skater, an editor at Vogue and an accessory designer at Ralph Lauren.
  • Julia Child, the iconic TV chef, originally planned on becoming a novelist. She first worked as a copywriter, then during World War II as a typist and top-secret researcher. In fact, she only learnt to cook when she was 36 years old. Thereafter, going on to publish her first cookbook at 39 and was 50 when she made her TV debut.

“Switching careers can be successful at any age.”

Want to Start Studying?

Are you considering studying as a mature student? Take a look at the wide range of psychology, counselling and coaching courses on offer at the South African College of Applied Psychology.

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