Returning to study after a break? Here’s five tips to help you succeed 

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Are you coming to university after a gap year? Or maybe you’re returning after a much longer break, in which you’ve worked or raised kids. Either way, you might be a bit unsure about what you’ll encounter and what you need to know to succeed. Here are some tips that can make it all easier.

  1. Recognise that you aren’t the only one at uni who feels a bit uncertain about what to expect.
    First-year students, returning students, students from different academic cultures…in fact, thousands of other students will be feeling like you do.The imposter syndrome describes the situation in which you feel that you are not as intelligent or capable as others and that everyone will find out that you’re a fraud someday. Some studies have estimated that 70% of people feel like imposters at some time in their life – being in new and different surroundings can often provoke that feeling.In fact, what you know is most likely pretty similar to what other people know. By your second session, you’ll be settling in and giving advice to the next lot of newcomers feeling their way.

  2. Manage your time effectively.
    Sure, being smart is important. You’re at university because you’re smart enough. But what you may not know is that student success rests as much on good study strategies and time management as it does on your intelligence.During the early part of the session, it is useful to put all your assignment due dates on your calendar and schedule time to prepare for each of them.Find out more about strategies for managing your time.
  3. Be an active learner
    Learning actively means is not only more effective than passive learning, but more enjoyable too. You’ll remember more and learn more deeply when you engage with your learning through strategies such as participating in discussions in your classes or online forums, asking questions and listening actively, and doing things with the information you receive, such as summarising and taking notes.Read more about strategies for activating your memory and being an active learner.
  4. Balance study with all the other important things – friends, fun, family and physical activity.
    University is a place of discovery, and not just in terms of academic pursuits. It might be a chance to discover new skills and new friends by engaging with the many societies and clubs or by participating in sport and recreation on campus. Whatever you choose, you’ll study more effectively if you are refreshed and rested.
  5. Know where to find help (and seek it when you need it).
    One of the marks of a successful student is using the help available. Some of the help available on campus includes:

Learning Skills – academic literacy workshops, consultations and online resources

Numeracy centre – help with mathematical skills

Wellbeing – counselling, student advocacy, disability and medical services

CareerWISE – help in preparing for your career

Technology – service desk, online spaces, wireless, software downloads and access to systems


Got any tips for those of us returning to study? Share them below in the comments! 

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