Matures: It is never too late to return to education to get a degree
The decision to return to education is a difficult one. It can be filled with feelings of self doubt and anxiety. For most adults, but especially those who have been away from education for a long time, the thought of fitting education into a life full of family and work commitments is overwhelming. That is before we even begin to look at the application process.
However, every year, thousands of mature students take the leap. They all fear they will be the only person over 20 years of age in the classroom. They all fear they will not be good enough, but they enter anyway.
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They discover that they are not the only person over 20. They discover they are good enough.
But, most importantly, they discover that they can access education in a way that they could not the first time round. They discover that they can succeed.
Last year, 9,689 CAO applicants - about one in eight of all applicants - were in the 'mature' category.
If returning to education is something that has been playing on someone's mind for a while, why not take the leap and commit to returning this year?
For a full list of 2019 CAO courses, click here
A student is generally regarded as mature if they are 23 or over on or before January 1 last. However, some colleges have a different age requirement, so it is worth checking.
Like all CAO applicants, those who wish to enter third level this autumn should complete the form by February 1. It is possible to apply for some courses after this deadline, but applicants may find their options reduced.
If an applicant wishes to be assessed as a mature student, they must list the course on the CAO by February 1 - they do not have the same level of choice as other applicants during the 'Change of Mind' period. This allows institutions to invite mature students to attend an interview or participate in some testing.
Applicants should also contact the institution(s) they are considering so as to ensure they understand all elements that will be required for application.
For example, some colleges require applicants to apply through CAO and also to make a separate, direct application.
Mature applicants should carefully read page seven of the CAO handbook, which clearly explains the whole mature student applicant process.
There will be lots of information sessions and open days this month, so it is not too late to access information and get support from the institutions an applicant is interested in attending.
As well as that, all institutions welcome enquiries from mature students and the admissions office is always available to answer questions.
It is always better to check with the college if applicants are in anyway unsure.