Never too Old to Learn: You can do it!

Education should be embraced by all, and everyone should have the opportunity to learn. They should be encouraged and inspired to reach their potential. Mature students may just need a bit more encouragement and reassurance, they can achieve, and because they are generally more focused, they know why they are studying and what they want to achieve. They have drive; they just need some support to help them learn the skills required for academic success.

I’ve just delivered my first induction session of the 2020/21 Academic Year. As ever, its like the first time all over again. I get so nervous as I prepare to meet my students for the first time. Its a new year, full of opportunities and potential. However, as I reflect on the unknowns – what will these students be like, will we get on, will they like me … they’re undoubtedly experiencing similar emotions. Even more so for mature students (those over 21, at least in the UK).

My class of inductees were enrolling on professional courses and some have not been in the classroom for over 20 years. If I’m nervous about something I do annually, how must they be feeling? Returning to education as an adult is a daunting step – you doubt yourself and question what are you doing. I’m here to tell you to believe in yourself; you can do this. You have lots of life experience to draw upon to support your learning; the academic skills you will learn and develop over time.

There are some key points you should consider:

(a) Skills improve over time; review and adapt your work. Take on board the feedback you receive from your tutors and lecturers.

(b) It can take time for you to find your feet. You are adjusting to a whole new experience. There are a lot of things to learn and habits to get used to. Be kind to yourself; we are guilty of expecting ourselves to be able to do everything almost immediately. My experience indicates it can take 2-3 months to settle into academic life; so give yourself the permission and space to learn.

(c) At the beginning you are unlikely to know what support is available to you, but I would expect that your institution will provide academic support to you; ranging from study guides to teams set up to provide you with 1-1 support. Find out what is available to you and take advantage of that.

(d) We don’t always like asking someone for help, but your tutors/lecturers should want to see you succeed – so ask them for help. I maybe can’t help you with subject specific questions but you can pose general questions in the comments section.

(e) Mature students actually get better, their results improve, over time. So don’t give up. As I said above, take on board the feedback, develop your skills and boost your marks/grades and your confidence.

(f) Its normal to doubt yourself but persevere. As a child I was always told I was a failure; I wasn’t the first in my family to go to university, but I was the first to succeed. I believed going to university was beyond me – I now have an Honours Degree in Modern Languages, 2 postgraduate Degrees in HRM and 2 teaching degrees. If I can do this – so can you.

I’m not saying academic life is easy, but imagine how good it will feel when you have worked hard on an assessment, applied your learning and used all your skills. You know you have produced a good piece of work; how will you feel when you get your work back with the word “PASS” written at the top? Keep a hold of that feeling to encourage you to keep going.

In my next blog I will look at some general guidance for starting out on your academic journey and preparing for those first few weeks.


This website and blog exist to provide support and guidance to the lost and struggling students.  Too often students are dismissed by academics when they simply need someone to help them find their path.  Everyone deserves the chance to achieve their potential.

After 13 years working as a legal secretary, I went to University and even spent a year living, working and studying in France.  Now I’m a successful lecturer who tries to stay in touch with the learning experience of the student.  I see my role as supporting them to develop their academic skills alongside my subject-specific (Human Resource Management) teaching.
Enabling students to learn independently and with confidence.


Speaking from experience as someone who returned to education as an adult, it is scary. You look around and see all these people who seem to be having an easier time than you. I sat in lecture theatres at University waiting for the tap on the shoulder and being asked to leave because I didn’t really belong there. I had little confidence – now I’m a successful academic and I strongly believe that if I can be successful, then others can be too. So, my purpose is to encourage and support others to achieve their potential. My area of expertise is HRM but I will also share my insights on the skills required for successful studying in any discipline.

It can seem overwhelming when you start studying. Get yourself a diary and keep a clear record of all your assessment deadlines. Students frequently under-estimate how much time will be required to complete coursework. Take time to plan out what you will be required to do and how much time you think this will take. Maybe keep a note of how much time you spend in reality so you can learn from your work and revise your plan as you progress. Carrying out research also takes much more time than you would think; however be careful that you don’t get trapped trying to find absolutely everything there is on the subject before you start – if nothing else, you will overwhelm yourself. My guidance to my own students is to maybe identify 4 sources to work with. Then try to answer the question and if there are gaps in your work, you then have a clearer idea of what you need to find, so your work will also be much more focused and targetted.

Your time at college or university should be a positive, enriching experience. Yes, assessments can be stressful but with sound study skills you can build self-confidence and have fun while you study.

Good luck to you at the start of this academic year.

Who am I and why I’m here

Hello. My name is Brenda Harrison. I’m a lecturer in Human Resource Management and some general management. I’m looking at ways to engage with students and provide them with additional support, both in HR and general study/academic skills

I started publishing videos on YouTube for my own students but feedback showed that the information was needed by a much wider audience. I hope, through blogging to explore areas of concern to students with their studies and hot/emerging HR topics.

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