Humans are creatures of habit who usually venture out of their comfort zones only when they really have to, according to a leading psychologist.
Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Charles Darwin University, Dr Mary Morris said that this behaviour was entirely natural and applied to just about everything in life: fitness, diet, starting a family and returning to education.
“A number of perceived factors can hold a person back from returning to study and realising their full potential including fear of the unknown, low self-esteem, thinking that they don’t have enough time or are too old, and not knowing what university study is like,” she said.
Dr Morris said that returning to study and the concept of life-long learning was something that could be achieved at any age.
“Studying is not a goal or target that peaks in youth, such as gaining a swimming gold medal. It can be a life-long source of interest and pleasure,” she said.
Having friends, family or “study buddies” who were doing the same thing, and getting to know the tutors or lecturers before starting to study would help to smooth the transition.
“When you feel the path you have been on has grown stale and is no longer satisfying or if you’ve just accomplished something and think ‘now what?’, university study can open the door to other things and adventures that you want and would enjoy, such as an interesting area of work or fulfilment on a whole new level,” she said.
“If we can get beyond the initial uncertainty and step outside our comfort zone, that’s when results start to happen, slowly but surely.”