Returning to study—tips for mature students

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington welcomes students who are new to study or who have not studied for some time.

This may be your first time at university or you may be returning to study. Mature students often worry that they are not as prepared for university as school leavers. However, your life experience and the skills you have gained can be a real advantage.

It can be challenging to adapt to a new learning environment but support is available to help you with the transition.

Time Management

Mature students are often juggling competing responsibilities. Effective planning at the start of the trimester can help to balance workloads and reduce stress.

Spend some time familiarising yourself with the assessment schedule before the course starts. This can be accessed on your course page on the Course Finder. Add these details to your calendar and anticipate when you’re going to be at your busiest in the trimester.

If you would like help with planning realistic weekly and trimester schedules that will allow you to manage your study, personal and work commitments, with one of our learning advisers


Assignment types and expectations differ across disciplines. When you start your courses, it’s important to find out what is required for different kinds of assessments.

Check Nuku and the course outline to find out about the types of assessments and due dates for each of your courses. Take time to read the course learning objectives (CLOs) and check what referencing style is required. Becoming familiar with this information early will help you to plan your trimester.

Academic writing and study skills

Don’t worry if you haven’t written anything ‘academic’ for a long time. The writing skills that you have developed in your profession or everyday life are transferrable to university.

The ability to construct a good assignment involves understanding the writing process and the conventions of academic writing. You may feel a bit rusty or lacking in confidence. But academic writing is a developmental skill that will improve with time and practice.

Student Learning can support you individually and/or through a range of workshops. You are able to book a 50-minute individual appointment at Student Learning (make sure you book ahead for this as places fill up fast) or drop into the library for a quick 15 minute chat