Tips for adult learners starting university

Not too sure how to make university study work and how to fit your studies around all your other responsibilities? Read our tips for adult and returning students thinking about university study.

Some tips to help you make the most of your university experience

Talk to the people who matter the most to you

Chat to your family, friends or colleagues – your support network – about why you’ve decided to take on study, what this may mean for your time with them and how they can help you cross that graduation stage.

Let them know when you’re busy with assignments or study – they may be able to help with childcare or household chores, or simply be there to listen if you’re feeling a bit stressed!

Make a plan

Create a weekly timetable for yourself to make sure you can balance your classes and assignments at uni with all the other aspects of your life. It can help you prioritise tasks, keep track of deadlines and ensure you know when you can study for your courses.

Consider things like setting aside 45-minute blocks to do your readings or assignments, or making time to stay at the library after class to study without being pulled into your other responsibilities.

Make the most of the resources

Take advantage of all the resources and support services you can access as an AUT student – from library workshops and resources to online study support, free counselling, wellbeing support and other student services.

You can discover all that’s available when you attend Orientation for new students or visit our website to explore our student services.

Bring your life experience into the classroom

Worried about your classmates being younger than you? Don’t be. You have a wealth of work and life experiences you can share in class discussions or when you’re working on projects – you’ll be able to add a unique perspective and your classmates will thank you for it.

Don’t be shy

Actively participate in class discussions, and build relationships with your classmates and academic staff. It’s a great way to get the most out of your university experience, grow your network and make new friends you can share the university journey with.

Ask for help if you need it

If you’re not sure about something covered in class or you just need a bit of advice, don’t be afraid to ask. Your lecturer will be more than happy to help, and for your student life-related questions simply reach out to the friendly team at the AUT Student Hub.

Don’t forget to look after yourself

Fitting study around your family, work and all the other things in your life can be stressful, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing and make time to prioritise self-care. Now sure how? Check out our wellbeing resources.

Advice from some of our students

Kelly Nicholson

Kelly Nicholson

Doctor of Philosophy
Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
Bachelor of Business
“For mature students, it can be quite devastating to get less than an A+. Remember that grades are not a reflection of your worth. Maybe you didn’t get an A+ in this assignment, but you probably sacrificed it to be an A+ parent, sibling, child, grandchild, employee, colleague, or whatever it was that meant that uni wasn’t your sole focus.”
Nea Steiner

Nea Steiner

Bachelor of Business in Management and Finance
“Don’t be afraid of being a mature student at university. While I was struggling in the beginning with being older, you’ll find people from all over the world, in a range of ages, at AUT. A main reason why I’ve succeeded at university is because I took my time finding what I really wanted to do.”
Bradley White

Bradley White

Bachelor of Education (Primary Teaching)
“As a ‘mature’ student, I wasn’t sure if I was up to the challenge of study at this level. Managing to do better than I thought improved my confidence and excitement at what is in the future. Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without support from lecturers and the support services at AUT, including Studiosity and the library resources.”
Sueann Wichman-Yukich

Sueann Wichman-Yukich

Bachelor of Arts in Māori Development
“The main advice I’d like to give to students is to take advantage of the support that is available to you at AUT. As a mature student, the best part about my studies has been the sense of whānau that is built through Pou Māori – Māori Centre, the Te Ara Poutama faculty, the Office of Māori Advancement and the Māori student association.”
Karen Coleman

Karen Coleman

Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching
Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class and take advantage of all the extra support AUT provides. The biggest challenge I faced was returning to study after many years in the workplace. At the start, this was a big concern, however, the academic writing skills courses, along with the library support staff, gave me much greater confidence.”
Mulisa Debela

Mulisa Debela

Master of Public Health
Bachelor of Health Science in Health Promotion
“I’d like to encourage future students to use all the available support services and resources at AUT, and create as many connections as you can with students or people in the community. The connections I created during my study helped me in many ways during and after my studies.”
Marie Loraine Esekielu

Marie Loraine Esekielu

Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
“My study journey spanned over numerous years, and I was fortunate to be surrounded by such supportive family and friends. Come to AUT – they’ll help you get there. AUT offers a great and supportive learning environment, and you can tap into the support services for students because they really do care.”
Lauren Stevens

Lauren Stevens

Bachelor of Arts in Event Management and Marketing
Diploma in Arts
“If you're like me and believe that 26 is too old, don’t worry; it's never too late to start studying. I started my studies with the Diploma in Arts before I moved into the second year of the Bachelor of Arts degree. The seamless transition into the bachelor’s degree was particularly noteworthy for me.”

Talk to us about your study options

summer at AUT

Not sure which course is right for you or how to get started? Book a time with us to discuss your options.


Planning your university studies

study at AUT

To start your university journey there are a few things you’ll need to work out – from choosing what you want to study to understanding what financial support you can get.


New to AUT? Get set up for studying

If you’re not sure what to expect, you might also find the links below useful to get started.

University language explained

Bachelor’s degrees, courses… Feeling confused? Check out our glossary if you need help with any of the AUT language you’ve seen.