NCI Blog

Advice For Adults Who Are Thinking About College This Autumn

Posted by Emma Henderson on 01 September 2014


Thinking about starting or going back to college? Or doing an evening course?

September marks the beginning of a new academic cycle, and it’s not just the kids that are preparing themselves for the classroom.

Thousands of adults from all walks of life are also considering starting or returning to education. Their reasons are varied: some are looking to further their careers, change direction or return to the world of work. Others seek a boost in self-confidence, to meet new people or develop new skills. (We have some posts on the benefits of part-time study here and here.)

If you’re among them, these five tips could help.

1. Find the right fit

Your choice of college can play a huge part in your overall experience. Shortlist some options that are affordable and close to home or work, then research your favourites to determine where might suit you best. Attending a college Open Evening is one of the best ways to select where you should apply to study. Our next events are listed here – we’d love you to come along! 

2. Don’t sell yourself short

Don’t underestimate the skills that you already have. Many adult learners have a highly developed skill set which often includes time management, problem solving and common sense skills gained through life experiences. To reflect this, NCI operates a Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning programme which takes your previous experience into account when you apply.

3. Get your family on board.

Be realistic about how the demands of study will affect your home life. Talk to your family and anyone else that will be affected by your return to education. You might need additional support while you’re doing the course. That could mean being let off with the dishes from time to time, having an extra bit of quiet time to study or even getting coaching with topics which are difficult.

4. Technology is not a barrier

Don’t be intimidated by technology. Word processing, email and the internet can all play a big role in the college experience. You’ll learn by doing; developing or improving your computer skills can be an unexpected benefit of returning to study.

5. Accept the help that’s on offer

Readjusting to academic life can have its challenges, but remember that there is plenty of support available. Get to know your lecturers, talk to the student support staff or make an appointment with the college counsellor. Don’t let things mount up - tackle the issue head on and you will feel more in control of the situation. Let your college or university know what you need, and they will try to help.

Curious about returning to education? Read Martin's experience of studying at NCI in his 60s, or find out why your previous life experience countsFind out more by coming to an upcoming open evening or event at NCI. You can also contact us today on 1850 221 721 or by emailing

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Topics: Part-time Courses, Postgraduate Courses, Advice