The five-step guide to starting uni in your 20s

January 06, 2016
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The gap year is a pretty standard point of call for most students, but what isn't as commonly discussed is taking up to half a dozen gap years before stepping foot inside a uni. Everybody has different reasons, but it’s often unsureness about what to study when you’re being pressured at the age of 17 or 18 - something which is totally understandable. Maybe you went for a semester, didn't want to be there, and have found yourself doing a total 180 and wanting to enrol. Whatever the case, here are some good rules of thumb for getting started in your 20s.

Understand that it's not as weird as you think

The first thing that might surprise you upon attending lectures and tutorials is that mature age students are most definitely a thing, so even at 27, you're not going to be entirely out of place. At the end of the day, it's pretty much what you make of it. Despite having years under your belt over first-year students straight out of school, the fact that you're all there to learn the same thing helps break down a lot of barriers. You're all in week one of the course and you all have to do the same material, and it's guaranteed you won't be the only late-starter doing it either.

Get a tutor for everything you've forgotten

If you're heading into a Bachelor of Science and math was never your strong point, you may want to head to your on-campus student services desk and inquire about locating a tutor to help with calculus or chemistry or anything else you need to familiarise yourself.  Better yet, you may find that there are free classes in place for students in your exact predicament, so don't hesitate to ask around.

Prepare for a challenge

If you've been working for the last few years, even with good forward thinking and preparation, it's likely that one of the hurdles you'll face is adjusting to the weekly requirement to put yourself aside and read pages upon pages of information, often reading separate documents that disagree with one another on whatever topic you're researching. These are hopefully interesting to you, but every field of study has dry spots, and having the self-discipline in place to get through it and write down banal data will take you far.

Hang out with others who are serious about being there

Teenagers: they get the best of times, they get the worst of times. For most people, the etiquette of being a student is pretty innate, or so hammered into us by the time we're late teenagers that it's totally subconscious. At any rate, there are always the odd few who won't be ready for full on university study yet. And more often than not, these are the people who risk harming your progress and good grades if you hook up as a solid duo throughout the semester. Having a wide range of friends is recommended, but your own priorities are what should guide your decisions.

Just ignore personal concerns about finishing late

At the end of the day, starting uni late is far more common than is represented in popular culture. Plus, there’s a good chance the added maturity you've gained while working and doing your thing will help you not only know what you want to do, but might also help on the other end when applying for graduate jobs. Some industries generally hire younger candidates, but being towards your 30s and having some wisdom will equally appeal to some future employers. 

Jonathon Davidson

Jonathon is studying journalism at Murdoch University in Perth.

Image: Old School official Facebook page