School of Social and Political Science

Returning to Education

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Returning to education brings exciting opportunities but also new challenges.  Whether you are updating your skills or looking to enter a new sector, returning to education will be a big change.  

We've spoken to other students who have returned to education and here are some of their top tips.

Accept that your priorities have changed

Because life has! As it should. You likely have children, partners, pets, or jobs that you are juggling alongside your studies.

Academia will be one part of your life, an important one and one that requires protected time and space, but it can’t be the sole focus of your attention and energy all the time.

It can helpful to set clear boundaries around learning at the outset.  Planning study time in advance can help to keep the different aspects of your life in balance.

Know your motivation

Just as your priorities have changed, so too has your motivation for further education. Remember that you know why you’re here and you’ve made an active decision to be present.  It can be helpful to write down your motivations for study as visual reminders for when things got challenging or a deadline is approaching.  

If you are working alongside your studies, it may be helpful to highlight your academic deadlines in your work calendar.  This can help with planning around those major work projects that will demand more of your time and attention.

Acknowledge that you have experience under your belt

Draw on your life and practical experience to date. This makes the learning so much richer and it also helps to break down the barrier between academia and practice.  Recognising (and remembering) the value that you bring to the academic debate will help to make the knowledge exchange and dialogue feel much more natural and relaxed.

Recognise the importance of humility in learning

Try to accept who you are and where you are at. Avoid comparing yourselves to other students as much as you can – we all have our own strengths and needs.

Ask questions in lectures and tutorials. Seek advice as needed. Use the resources on campus and online designed to help you succeed.

Remember also the value that you bring to learning for your peers.  Your work experiences can provide insight into the sector that the academic discussion may not be able to provide.

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