Tips and tricks for taking a business degree in Ireland as a mature student
Galway Business School offers information and support on how to create a study schedule and how to organise yourself, just because you may be a bit out of practice.
You’ll also receive a student handbook which contains tips on how to study effectively, and be efficient with your time and effort. You can access study materials anytime via GBS Moodle, our e-learning platform, which should help you to fit in study around family, the day job, and leave time for yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed by it all.
Here are some ideas you can consider now, when planning for the start of your bachelor of business course.
Going back into full or part time education after a period of work is not only new for you, but also for those in your sphere, whether at home, work, or both. This new situation will require an adjustment as new parameters and expectations are set. You’re likely to be less available and expectations need to be managed from the start.
It’s helpful to block out set times in your diary, when friends, family and work colleagues know that you’re on your course or studying. Keeping these times consistent helps everyone adapt and keep you on track. Also set boundaries for yourself. No matter how stimulating your work is, make sure you keep on track with sleep and exercise or your long-term performance may suffer.
Create the best work environment
If you’re now spending more time studying from home, it’s important to find a quiet space to work. Setting up on the kitchen table as the rest of the family continues their lives around you isn’t great for concentration - or your posture! It’s important to invest time and money from the outset to create the most ideal work environment as this will pay off from day one.
Think about where you situate your desk. Are you more able to concentrate if you can see out of a window, or are you better facing a blank wall? Have you got enough space to lay out any books you might need? Is the screen far enough away from your face to prevent eyestrain and headaches?
Assess your setup from an ergonomic perspective. Make sure you have the correct height for your chair and desk, and potentially consider a configuration that allows you to work standing. The more time you spend getting this right, the more your back, neck and shoulders will thank you further down the line. Is anyone going to IKEA?
Critically examine your tech. Do you have an up-to-date computer? Would it be helpful to buy an extra monitor? A set of noise-cancelling headphones can also be an invaluable investment in helping create the right environment for your study. Many people can’t concentrate when listening to music, but playing white noise or the sound of rain can be very helpful. Maybe less of a requirement here in Ireland!
Create the right habits
As a mature student, you may be out of practice when it comes to learning new things on this scale. Be kind to yourself and accept it may take a bit of time to get into the habit of learning and the back to the sensation of stretching and challenging your brain. Embrace the unknown, feel the fear and keep taking the next step forwards. Give yourself achievable short, medium and long term goals and reward yourself when you reach them.
Find the right software or hardware to manage your diary and task list. You may prefer to manage your life online, but you may prefer the tactile feel of a pen and paper in your hands. A bullet journal can be a very useful tool for managing your ‘to-do’ list, and help keep it under control.
Make sure when you work, you concentrate on quality, not quantity. It can be helpful to set a timer on your desk and work with a twenty minute rule: Focus intently for twenty minutes, then get up and take a five-minute break. Repeat this three times, then take a fifteen minute break. When you’re rested and alert, you will be more productive, and your work more effective than if you’re tired and sit in front of a screen for hours.
Contextualise your study
As a mature student on the Bachelor of Business degree, you have a huge advantage, thanks to your experience to date. As you learn, take time to examine how your course applies to your current job.
This has to be the single biggest benefit from having worked before starting your business degree,... that you’ll have a really good feel for how some of the theories play out in the real world. Also, no one can discount the value of that experience, so when it comes to writing essays and assignments, always look at how you can pull in examples from your own work. Exchanging real-life examples is a really interesting part of the course.
Not only can this help keep you motivated and stimulate your study, you may also be able to add extra value at work. See if there are problems at an organisational level that you can help to solve. If you can identify in advance how your course could assist your organisation to improve, then this could also help you get sponsored. In any case, be sure to let your line manager or HR team know that you’re starting a bachelor of business degree. In bigger companies, there may be all sorts of benefits and opportunities open to you, such as sabbatical leave or flexible working.