Mature Students – Stress and Challenges of Returning to School

Mature Students – Stress and Challenges of Returning to School

Mature students face practical and Psychological challenges

Returning to study as an adult, be it after a hiatus of a few years or a few decades is a wonderful chance for personal growth and development. At times, but it poses specific personal and interpersonal challenges which lead to anxiety and may interfere with the achievement of academic or skill acquisition goals.

It’s worth recognizing that there are typical stresses that might sometimes feel overwhelming or threatening and may prompt a senior student to seek help or advice. Here is a summary of a few of the challenges and dilemmas that a mature student might experience and which may be worth addressing in personal treatment…

Trouble getting started?

Young environment re-attaches us to younger self: hopes and fears. .memories of ancient failures drag us down. The family of origin issues around the contest, self-esteem, fear of success, dependence and primitive parental expectations might be revived.

What can you do now that you could not do then? Daring to try again.

Returning to research as you must. The psychological fallout of down-sizing, layoff, therefore, being fired. .marriage break-up.

Psychology of being … and staying there!

Family pressure to stay in old roles, family interference. .family heel-dragging and acting out in response to attempted change and development. Family feelings of being abandoned create guilt. Check out ASSET Education.

Psychological strain of new expertise and new challenges, 

Feelings of inferiority regarding the skills of younger classmates in an awkward mixture with feelings of superiority around life accomplishments.

Stress in class projects which may result.

Social isolation from student peers… not fish nor fowl nor good red herring… feeling both above and under

The strain of steep learning curve in the surface of technology and research skills that have lain fallow for many years… can’t do your kid’s grade seven math anymore… so the way to face statistics.

Perfectionism, A common phenomenon which might be serving as a defense and its connection to self-sabotage. The way your perfectionism is getting in your way.

Imposter Syndrome. .the symptoms are:


Inability to internalize a sense of being gifted or competent in the face of all objective evidence to the opposite

Attributing success to external factors unrelated to ability.

Comparing self to others

Emphasizing other’s strengths and own weaknesses

Minimizing other’s weakness and possess power.


Becoming trapped by deadlines

Preventing challenges


Demanding perfection and so never escape slips

Feeling stress, anxiety, and depression from stress to endure to successful picture or fear of being exposed as useless or incompetent

Philosophical and moral development

Becoming an individual: Psychologist Erik Erikson’s later stages of personal development begin kicking in:

“Generativity vs Stagnation”… leads to”Integrity vs Despair”

Adult intellectual and ethical development: Moral problems around taking a single stand, contributing back to the community.

Carol Gilligan on women’s moral development: the right of girls to deal themselves in the circle of nurture and care. Not always putting other’s needs first.

Sandwich generation… Being a”triple decker” sandwich in fact. .with responsibilities into the creation above and below… In addition to the obligation to oneself.

Feeling of Vocation. .Feeling a”calling” to do a little bit of job is a powerful driver of effort and sacrifice but also initially, sometimes difficult to warrant or say. The existential need or aspiration to express yourself in this particular manner and to make a life which is congruent with your mature values needs support and diligence. Luigi Rulla composing on Vocation asserts that the difference between career and Vocation can be found in the fact that Vocation is not the expression of self-concept, but rather the expression of the self-ideal. He asserts that Vocation has more to do with the expression of values compared to livelihood does. It’s perfectly feasible to engage in a career which is ideal for your abilities and to the possibility of this environment but which does not strongly emphasize personal worth. See: Social Emotional Learning Curriculum | SEL Cirriculum here. There may be mid-life a re-definition of personal values which is strong enough to excite an upheaval in career trajectory. Vocational callings have the characteristic requirement that the personal values of the aspirant be coherent with those of their domain or the establishment. He indicates that ability and skills are surface attributes which can be altered to a substantial degree as the aspirant strives to express deep worth.

The emphasis on values may direct a vocational aspirant to make personal sacrifices and over-ride normal considerations of stability, prestige, status, and remuneration. This choice may not be equally appreciated by other people around them… and this may cause interpersonal problems.

Practical and physical considerations…

Facing physical limitations: For both women and men, the approval of, and adjustment to, developing limits along with a decreasing energy level.

Time direction… pulling all-nighters not a choice anymore! Need to create alternative strategies.

Networking: Implementing the skills, resources and contact networks of adult life to the scholarly task

Menopause and peri-menopause consequences on psychology and physiology for women.

Not suffering in silence

Lots of the challenges outlined above are not limited to older students

They are often expectable challenges of adulthood and midlife. .but the extra challenge of a return to research may intensify the adventures to the point where they feel overwhelmed or bring them to light unexpectedly. Speaking about these issues with a considerate friend, a therapist or a counselor may help to normalize the expertise and might let you locate realistic and practical strategies to fix the problems as they appear.

Returning to study is exciting and also emotionally and psychologically arousing.

Inward turmoil and self-examination might be caused by external signs like increased physical and psychological fatigue which sometimes manifests as mild depression and social withdrawal, but it might be well worth noting that research assures us, even though it seems”destabilizing,” returning to study and career changes are rational responses to dissatisfaction and unmet demands by well-adjusted men and women!