Your guide to learning and study over age 30

Your guide to learning and study over age 30

The study journey for an adult learner is different from a school leaver. Often adult learners experience high levels of personal motivation, but feel like they are lagging behind in specific ways.

Younger students seem to know how to do everything so well. They not only understand technology, but work magic on programmes from Word to OneNote. And as for Moodle…well…what is Moodle?

If you feel rusty in comparison, take heart. The good news is you’re not alone.

According to a fact sheet published by Education Counts(external link) students aged 40 and over now make up 30% of all students enrolled in tertiary education compared with 16% in 1995.

The diversity of work and life experience that adult learners bring to the NMIT community is invaluable.

School leavers often lack the confidence to speak up in class. Whereas, adult learners bring a willingness to experiment and have things fail. In our experience, adult learners settle in well and often end up being leaders in the classroom.

At the same time, we recognise that as an adult learner you are more likely to have to balance family and work commitments alongside your studies.

This is your study and your chance, so ask for the resources you need and if you don't get them, keep asking until you do. And remember, don't let being an adult learner define you.

NMIT is a diverse place. We welcome people from all walks of life. So don’t worry about being the oldest in the class – we cater for students of all ages.

With this in mind we’ve put together a guide to everything that every type of adult learner needs to know.

What are your options if you don’t meet the entry requirements?

Make sure you are prepared

Did you struggle at school? Has it been years since you entered a classroom? You can prepare for your study with one of our Tertiary Preparation programmes. These are flexible and tailored to the specific skills you need a boost in. They also provide a gentle entry into full time study down the track. And they are especially useful if you don’t meet the entry requirement for a particular programme.

Balancing work, life and your studies

Get trained on the job


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At NMIT, we focus on learning by doing, so you won’t get bogged down with too much theory. Many of our programmes include either a managed apprenticeship or a work placement. This is regardless of whether you are studying full or part time.

Are you returning to the workforce? Need to upskill in your particular industry? 

We offer work placement opportunities in a range of programmes from Aquaculture to Viticulture and Wine.

Flexible study


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More than 70% of our programmes can be studied part-time. Great if you are already in work.

We also offer online, distance and flexible delivery. Flexible programmes offer a blend of in-class, in-workplace and/or online study.


Some courses or programmes at NMIT are offered fully online. This means you can study them from anywhere in New Zealand, anytime it suits you. All you need is a computer with an internet connection and basic computer skills.


On or near campus childcare

Affordable childcare that is nearby can be a barrier to study for many adult learners. NMIT is located near two excellent options. Both centres provide a discounted rate for all current NMIT students.

FREE counselling


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Good mental health and wellbeing is essential to enjoying your time at NMIT. If you need psychological support at any point, ask a team member at Learner Services for a referral to one of two free options:


  • Counselling Support for Student by Students - a counselling service run by NMIT students on Nelson campus and Marlborough campus.
  • OCP - a professional independent service available 24 hours. Just quote your student ID number to access their services.

Things you can try at home with your whānau

When study life gets hectic, it can be rewarding to have some quality family time.

  • Weekends or holidays
  • Special outings
  • Walks on the beach
  • Even dinner together at home can play an important role in helping the whānau spend quality time together.

Having a whānau discussion about the positive things studying will bring to your family can help increase understanding about balancing commitments. It also helps remind the whānau of all the benefits of achieving study success.

What are your options for learning support?

Head to the library - your one stop shop


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Many adult learners say that the hardest thing about going back into a study situation was the first essay and using technology.


At NMIT, the library is home to the Learner Services team. Come to the front desk for help with anything study related.

  • A referral to a counsellor
  • Help with essay writing
  • Moodle, Word, OneNote - anything.

Learner services has a ‘buck stops here’ policy. Rather than bouncing you around left, right and centre, the team will help you with your issue then and there.

They know becoming a student can be a bit tough and they know who to go to if you are struggling. They have been on this journey with many students and can help with transition. 

Talk to your programme coordinator

At NMIT, class sizes are generally smaller to enable your tutors to get to know you and your needs. Make yourself known to your tutor. They can help alleviate the concerns you may have about returning to study after life in the 'real world'. Tutors and programme coordinators are not only highly experienced in your chosen industry, they are also very caring.

Talk to your peers


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Never underestimate the power of your study community. Your fellow students are often a great place to start if you are struggling and need to talk. They’re on this journey with you, and may face similar challenges. If you’re worried about another student, Learner Services at the library can help. They can provide confidential support to help you to help them.


Talk to SANITI if you need help with finances

It pays to make sure everything in your life is as organised as possible before you start. Especially with regards to finances. Stuff happens though. We get it. Should something unforeseen happen, you can apply for a Hardship Grant through SANITI(external link). The grant is for short term, unexpected issues that might hinder your ability to study. They can also offer representation should you have any concerns during your time at NMIT.

We hope this guide has been useful. If we haven’t managed to answer your question, please have a look through our support section on the website.

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