(Original post by edjunkie)
I've been both sides of the fence with regard to study. My observations are:
1. As a student (regardless of age or educational background) is that you have to be prepared to engage with your lecturers and fellow students.
2. As a student, you have to be prepared to put yourself out to get the most out of your education experience. Be creative about meeting up with other students. Getting to a lecture 30 minutes before it starts can create an opportunity to get to know other students. Do not be reserved about giving contact details.
3. If you are concerned with keeping your student life and home life separate, get a separate mobile number and or email address, facebook account, twitter, skype etc that you use just for your study activities, but don't forget to check it regularly.
4. My experience was that lecturers were not biased to the age of the student. They tended to respond more positively to students who engaged positively during lectures and attempted non compulsary assignments. The good lecturars expect constructive queries or observations when they seek input from students during a lecture. Silence frustrates them and diminishes the value of the lecture or seminar.
5. Study groups don't have to be in person, embrace electronic means to start a discussion. Even a simple email to the people you know on the course can generate sufficient response to make a difference.
6. Many students now spend time travelling, my last journey was up to 90 mins and that wasn't uncommon.
7. Start with a positive attitude. Assume most people have hurdles to overcome when studying. So don't assume that your set of circumstances disadvantages you. Make sure you let the relevant people know when your circumstances affect your studies and report it formally. If you wait until after you have got a poor mark to give mitigating evidence, it limits what can be done to help you.
8. Exams scripts tend not to have your name on, it is normally marked blind. As most of your course work is submitted electronically your lecturer is unlikely to recognise your handwriting. Higher education tends to only give 2 attempts to achieving a passing grade. This can be a shock for some current A level students who have had the opportunity to retake modules until they achieved the right grade.
9. Take the time to find out the rules for your course. I've lost count of the times some of my fellow students have been dissatisfied because they haven't got a high enough mark due to submission errors. Late submission can cost you dearly, but if you have a relevant reason for late submission, let the lecturer and course administrator know before the deadline.
10. Accept that some lecturers may not be the most helpful (to anyone). Expect exam surprises. There are some who will be clear about which topics will be examined and others will be cagey, but don't assume that they won't ask beyond the core.
11. Mature students are disadvantaged by not having recent experience of time exams. You need to make sure that you practice your exam technique by doing past exam questions under exam conditions. Seek feedback from your lecturers about which points need to be covered.
12. Know and understand the grade boundaries. Today's A level students are used to getting high marks in excess of 70% and are shocked when they get to uni and 50% -70% is the norm and the first passing mark you get stands. Similarly if you come from an Access course and achieve Distinctions you may have unrealistic expectations. Rule of thumb anything in excess of 60% keeps you in the running for 2:1 or better, depending on the institution.
13. Most people at some stage feels that their previous study has not prepared them for their current studies. The people that are most confident are those with the discipline to read ahead and spend the summer holidays reading the recommended texts.
14. For future mature students, all I can suggest is prepare yourself to study the course you have signed up for. Don't assume that your pre degree courses (A level, Access BTEC) have prepared you. There is a reason that universities give you reading lists prior to starting your course. Contact time at university is limited and you are expected to do a lot of independent study.