What are the specific strategies you put in place to support mature age students doing a PhD? Are you up to date with the resources, such as social media groups, that your university offers? When I was doing my PhD I started collecting screen captures of my university’s home page, looking for representation of people like me (middle-aged woman). The only time I saw someone similar to myself represented was as a parent, visiting the campus with a young adult student, as if in an orientation week. Being a mature age student can be a very lonely experience.
The range of backgrounds of mature age students can be enormous, too. Recently, in an undergraduate program, I taught a student who had never used a computer mouse before, and needed to develop a whole new set of motor skills. Mature age doctoral students may be thirty or more years away from their last experience of study and have a whole set of study-skill and technology-related needs. How do you help prospective students evaluate their readiness for a return to study and share with them what the university has in place to support them? Does your Higher Degree by Research website have specific advice and info for mature age students, for example? What does your library offer? What special welcome does your student union provide?
Most importantly of all, this post on Professor Pat Thomson’s blog patter reminds us to celebrate mature age students and everything they have to offer.