By: Claire Wilson. Last Updated: January 2024


Whether it’s been 5 years or 35 years since you were last in education, our advice remains the same.

Here are our 9 top tips to ensure a successful return to education…

1. Find (and keep!) your motivation

It’s important to have a clear idea of why you want to return to education. Are you looking for a better-paid job? To finally get a degree? Better prospects for progression?

With a clear goal in mind, you can remind yourself of exactly why you’re doing this if you do find it tough at times.

We recommend writing your motivation on a post-it and sticking it in front of your study area – making sure it’s somewhere you’ll always see it in your moments of doubt.

2. Look for courses offering support

The support you receive as a mature student varies wildly between course providers.

Our courses are all developed specifically for mature students so the support we offer is highly tailored to that group.

All our students have a designated course coordinator who checks in every single week. If it looks like a student is starting to struggle, the course coordinator will work closely with them to figure out what’s happening and put a plan in place to get back on track. They’re also there as a point of contact for any queries you might have about the course.

Your course coordinator will be your cheerleader or your personal trainer, whichever you need!  

3. Find a course that suits your pace 

Classroom-based learning follows one set pace and all students are expected to work at that pace. Online learning offers you the opportunity to work at your own pace – you can go back and watch videos for a second or third time if necessary.

4. Build a routine

This is possibly the most important thing, especially if you’re taking an online course. You have to build your education into your week, finding a suitable time and protecting it for study.

An online course will allow you to do that at a time to suit you, working around your previous commitments rather than the timetable of a classroom. But still, pick a day and time to stick to.

If you can establish a routine, you’re much more likely to be successful.

5. Get organised

Even with an online course, you should treat your study time as if you were in a classroom. Let others know that you’re unavailable, get rid of distractions and get yourself set up in an area that works to complement your study style.

If study from home, treat it like you’re not there. Don’t answer the phone… or the door… or do the washing… treat it like you’re sitting in a classroom.

6. Experiment

Everyone prefers different things when it comes to learning, there’s no one “best” way to study.

Start with the things you know used to work when you studied previously. If they don’t suit you now, try other options until you find a style of studying that works for you. Most people begin by studying at home – if you find that you’re too distracted by that, try studying in a library or coffee shop.

7. Take it one step at a time

Take each task as it comes and only focus on that. If you start to think too far beyond that, things can quickly begin to feel overwhelming.

Trust that you’ll have all the information you need at the right time and don’t become unnecessarily anxious about things like assignments.

8. If you’re struggling, ASK FOR HELP

If you start to feel at any point like you’re struggling with the course content or not keeping up with the demands of your programme, speak to your course coordinator. People can’t offer you help and advice if they don’t know there’s something wrong.

And don’t leave it too long. Asking for help early means you’re more likely to stay on track.

9. Don’t panic

You’ve got some work experience behind you and that actually leaves you in a really strong position for success in education. You are bringing knowledge, skills and experience that are great advantages in this process.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that since our courses are aimed at people with significant work experience, almost all of our trainees are starting from the same place – having not studied for a LONG time.

So it definitely IS possible to have a successful return to education after several years away. And perhaps an online course with excellent support is exactly the right place to do it.

About the Author

Image with Claire Wilison from GetReskilled Team

Claire Wilson

Content Marketing and Career Coaching

Claire runs GetReskilled’s Advanced Career Coaching Programme – our specially devised job hunting course that helps our trainees take that final step into employment by leading them through the job hunting process. She is extremely enthusiastic about helping people reach their final goal of employment in their new career path.

Claire has a BSc (Hons) in Medical Biology from Edinburgh University and spent 7 years working in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.