Mature student myths debunked – what's going back to college as an adult learner really like?

17 September 2023

Returning to education later in life is a big decision to make. Each year, we see hundreds of inspiring adult learners coming back to college to change their stories. However, there are some common myths and concerns which might be worrying you. So, read on as we dispel some frequent fears and misconceptions from adult learners and show you what it’s really like…

Am I too old to go back to college? Will I be surrounded by teenagers?

If you’re worried about being too old for college or feeling out of place amongst the youngsters, you’re not alone! But it’s also not the reality of college life. Our community spans all ages, with mature learners in their twenties, thirties, forties, going all the way into their seventies. A lot of adult learners worry that they’ll be surrounded by teenagers fresh from school and they won’t fit in at college. But classes are far more diverse than you might expect. As a further education college, we believe that learning is a lifelong process and welcome students of all ages through our doors every year. So, it’s never too late to learn something new, whether that’s a part time hobby course or a foundation degree.

I’ve been out of education too long. How will I keep up in class?

Some mature students worry that learning new things will be too hard or you won’t be able to keep up in class. You might even be concerned about adapting to learning again after being out of school for several years. However, we know that adult learners have a fantastic capacity for learning. At college, you choose to study a subject that interests and motivates you, so it’s a very different environment to school. Our campuses offer industry-standard equipment and facilities, and our tutors are experts in their subject areas – a winning combination to set you up for success! Coming back to college as an adult gives you the best chance to learn, achieve your goals, expand your horizons, and realise your potential.

I’ll struggle to learn by myself, so maybe college isn’t for me

Although college is an independent learning environment, you won’t be thrown into the deep end. We always put learners first, so you’ll be guided by tutors and offered help whenever you need it. Support is available at all of our campuses, with staff on hand to help you adapt and cope with balancing your studies with your lifestyle. You’ll have a dedicated personal tutor for academic and pastoral support, and they’ll be there to offer a listening ear and point you in the direction of support networks in the college. Our librarians are always happy to help you with study skills for assignments and our Togetherall service provides you with resources to support your mental health and wellbeing too.

It’s expensive and time-consuming to study, and I can’t fit a course into my busy life

As an adult, we know you have responsibilities and commitments that need to be considered alongside studying, whether that’s raising children, caring for your family, or earning money to pay the bills. Our tutors know you have other commitments, so they’re understanding, supportive and flexible. With a range of free full time and enhanced part time courses on offer, we do all we can to make it possible for you to return to education and follow your dreams. Enhanced part time courses allow you to study a full time programme in condensed hours, so you can get qualified and make it work around your lifestyle. You may even be eligible for grants and financial support to assist you with the cost of studying.

Each year, hundreds of adult learners overcome barriers and join us at Coleg Gwent with courses that work around your lifestyle. We even offer Access to HE courses that are designed for mature students, to reintroduce you to the classroom and give you the qualifications you need to succeed.

Come along to our next open event to learn more about being a mature student at college and make it work for you!