My advise and tips for mature students returning to education.

Close friends and family will laugh as they read the advise that I give, in which I only partially abide by myself. So I give this advise and tips, in good faith that someone may find it useful. I would firstly like to encourage mature students to embrace their time in education. To open their minds up to everything, whether it be new friends, intern-ships, clubs or work experience. You have this period in your life to be a ‘student’, a partial escape from real adult life, so take advantage of it whilst you can. Although you may feel like the mother hen (as I do occasionally), engage with others, network and learn from every experience you encounter. These experiences may even be more beneficial in the long run, rather than the words you may read from a lecture slide or a book.

Find your own way to study. If it means your a night owl, crammer, or even someone who needs to work harder than others, find your own way. Everyone is different in how they take in and retain material, so try not to compare or mimic the styles of others as it may not always work out well for you. For example organising myself with check-lists and break downs of topics, works for me in assignments and exam study. What also works for me was ensuring the space in which I study is clean and clear of distraction. Distractions in my case, usually comes in the form of the cat crawling across the keyboard, or the occasional dogs paw been given without request.

When you find the right way of carrying out your studies, accept that your level of work may need to increase or that it may not in some cases. I look at some classmates that can open the book for the first time the night before an exam and excel in it, and then others, including me, may need to start study well in advance to achieve the desired results. A common mistake can be easing off on your studies, believing you have done just as much as the others, and then receiving upsetting results. Accepting you may need to do more than others and focusing only on yourself will hopefully minimise your chances of this mistake.

Lastly, I would like to stress the importance of asking your questions. The “I’d be too embarrassed in case they thought it was a stupid question”, is within us all. It takes just one person to ask the question, that may settle many minds. Time in education, although it feels like an eternity as work loads build, is in reality very short. Therefore try not to leave yourself in uncertainty, ask your fellow classmates and lecturers questions. With that said, I will end on this note, ‘It is better to look uninformed, than to be uniformed. Curb your ego and keep asking questions.’ – Richard Thalheimer.

Photographed studying myself to sleep.

The Cut Backs.

The cut backs.

One of the hardest changes to adjust to when returning to education, after being in the workforce, is definitely the financial cut backs. Still having the same living costs and travel costs, all whilst wanting your social life to remain the same, just is not realistic when your working hours are cut back. Thankfully I have been lucky in the role I am in now as stud staff. With stud work, preparing foals and yearlings for sales, I can work mornings, nights and even weekends to bank a few Euro. That aside, without the full weeks wage every week, it takes some adapting to make ends meet.



My first experience leading a yearling through the ring, at GOFFS Orby sale.





Simple things, that I hope others can relate to, like weekly shopping and household luxuries. For instance, I stood one day in the middle isle of LIDL, debating to myself about how much I really needed new rug for the dog, and the bread and milk could just wait. I eventually got my priorities in order and now have become the thriftiest of shoppers, and as for my dog, he still loves his rug dearly.

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Adapting to college goes beyond finances and shopping, mature student life effects your mind set sometimes also. As I enter my final year I have watched close friends walk down the isle and start their families, as I sit with thoughts of endless assignments and ‘am I mad doing this’. I found myself occasionally comparing my life to others of the same age as me. But it will be worth it, and if I can give any advice to mature students starting out, it would be ‘Do not base your success on the successes of others, and when in doubt, let it make you work even harder to ensure it is worth while’.

It is not all doom and gloom with adapting to student life, if anything it has perks of its own. For the time you spend in the college lifestyle, you are submerged in the youthful, exciting and creative atmosphere. The benefits also extend the campus atmosphere in the achievements along the way, like for me and many other mature students, successes such as good grades or simply doing what you thought you could not do. The joys from these achievements are amplified, giving the reassurance that encourages persistent and continuous hard work.

“Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear.” —William Congreve


Deciding to go back to education.

Returning to education at the age of 23 evoked a mixture of emotions, excitement, curiosity and a dash of fear on top. A decision that was based on the feeling of being unfulfilled within my previous career choices. Boarding kennels, grooming, veterinary assistant, riding school staff, livery yard staff and still I found a void inside. Carrying on with livery yard work I underwent the BHS exams, and in doing so, I found an interest with gaining more education. My passion for horses was always strong, and as I aged and gained more experience in the equine industry the passion grew bigger along the way. So I decided to undergo a degree in Equine Business.

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My days as a veterinary assistant.





Why the Equine Business degree in Maynooth University?, well three main reasons. The first reason was the past pupils of this degree course, in which I admire. These people now working in great roles within the equine industry gave me inspiration the most. Another reason was its content, in covering a variety of business modules, as well as important equine based modules, assured me that I was going to be equipped with employable qualities on completing this degree. Lastly, the accessibility to the campus, although not a priority for some students, but when balancing a home life, work life and college life, living close was a major selling point to me.


My Equine Business classmates and I, enjoying lunch with the legendary horseman, Willie Leahy.





Not coming from an equine background I’m very lucky with the people I have met along the way. I owe every ounce of success I have, or will obtain in the future, to them. From the crazy lady (will remain unnamed) who threw me up on a pony at a very young age and told me to shut up and get back on each and every time I fell off, to my dear friends and work colleagues who taught me so much and built me up with confidence. With those people, and the passion for horses I think I may survive this degree.