Why returning to school can be intimidating, even though it shouldn’t be

One of the biggest challenges that returning students and mature students encounter is facing their own fears and anxieties. Starting a university or postgraduate program is an intimidating undertaking at any age, but if you have not been in an academic setting for a few years (or a few decades), it can be even more intimidating.

The good news is that most returning students find that their fears and anxieties virtually evaporate as soon as they get started in their new programs. Below are some of the biggest anxieties that returning students have when returning to school, and the reasons why returning students should not let these fears overpower them or make them reconsider their decision to go back to school.

Changing curriculum, new technology

For returning students who have only been out of an academic setting for a few years, it is likely less of a concern that the technology, teaching styles and curriculums have changed significantly. However, for returning students who have been out of school for decades, it can be stressful to consider how to manage technology and keep up with the pace of their peers.

The good news is that the school’s educational technology will typically be a bespoke platform and, as a result, no students will have prior experience with it and training will be provided. On top of that, every university has an IT department that can be contacted for help and troubleshooting. After a few weeks, navigating the technology will be a breeze for everyone.

Additionally, returning students can rest assured that their professors and school administrators have diverse teaching experience and are comfortable with stepping in and providing extra support when needed. The Wilkes health services programs are a perfect example of academic courses that are taught in a supportive, inclusive manner with highly trained and experienced staff.

Connecting with peers and professors

Another source of anxiety can be the thought of connecting with your fellow students, professors and other teachers. If you are concerned that you will be older than most of your other classmates or that you herald from a different demographic or walk of life altogether, this can be stressful.

The good news is that most universities have school associations for various demographics, including mature students, religion and heritage. In your classes, you will also find that, particularly in postgraduate programs, there is a diverse group of students and that after a few weeks, everyone typically connects with one another over the course material and differences fall away.

Academic rigor

Academic rigor can be a source of anxiety for all incoming students. Returning students, however, have the advantage of life experience, professional roles, and a prior academic degree to provide context and preparation for the tough days ahead.

Moreover, there are always academic supports, counsellors and office hours available for students who want additional help, or just to ensure that they are on the right track.

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