Life experience gives mature age students certain advantages, but returning to study was still an overwhelming prospect for Zara Smith.
After ten years of working in the recruitment industry, including international experience, Zara was no newcomer to the business world.
She had a deep understanding of how to do business but the 31 year old wanted to add to her skillset and chose RMIT’s Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management).
“I decided to study human resource management as I had worked in the business environment for a while and I was extremely keen to build more skills around strategic leadership, and management to assist with further developing my career,” she said.
“Plus I’m passionate about organisational behaviour and what impact this has on day to day operations, something that this program covers.”
Making a classroom comeback had its challenges. Most of her fellow students were younger, many straight out of high-school, and Zara felt daunted by the thought of having to start over.
“There were so many questions running through my head,” she said.
“How do I write an essay again? How do I cope being the oldest student in the room? How will I manage with other life commitments such as full time work, overseas assignments, planning a wedding and managing a household?”
Zara, who now works at RMIT’s Ngarara Willim Centre for indigenous students, says teaching staff and mentoring through the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme helped her gain confidence in academia in a non-confronting space.
Her advice to other mature age students is, "Don’t let age stop you."
“You’ll find a way. You’ll ask for help when you can’t. And when you finish an assignment, a course, the first year - you’ll know it’s been worth it,” she said.
“Don’t let the unknown stop you.”