Let's start by looking at what is meant by "adult" / "mature student".  In most circumstances, you are considered to be a mature student if you are at least 23 years of age when you start your course.

There are also some advantages of being a mature student when registering for College or Further Education. Before the age of 23, you will need to have completed your Leaving Certificate. However, if you are applying for a place as a mature student, you will not be asked to meet the usual entry requirements, meaning you have a chance of getting in without having obtained specific grades or points in the Leaving Cert.

Another huge advantage, that I personally found as I didn't do college until I was 26, is that I had time to mature and gain some 'real-life experience' as well as figure out what I wanted to do/be in my career. There is no shame in taking time for self-growth and figuring out your life path before jumping into more academic education.

"To reach something good it is very useful to have gone astray, and thus acquire experience."

Saint Teresa of Avila

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Sometimes, we can find maths too difficult or boring in school, as an adult, we can actually see the benefits of it as a subject when it comes to its use in everyday life - Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash
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Maths as an Adult - Is it Leaving Cert Maths?

This is a great question, the answer is sort of, like the Leaving Cert Functional Maths ( maths in adult education) is a level 4 course. And it is also mainly focused on the areas of practical maths meaning that what you learn is usable in everyday life.

Sometimes, we can find maths too difficult or boring in school, often this can be because we are also studying 5 or 6 other subjects, with such a heavy load its only natural that some of the subjects may be less intriguing than others to us. But going back to take a maths class as an adult allows you to actually see the benefits of it as a subject when it comes to its use in everyday life.

Simply put, the main reason to take a Level 4 Functional Maths course is to equip yourself with the
knowledge and skills to recognise situations where mathematics can be used meaningfully in daily life. You will learn to apply and transfer mathematical processes and concepts to appropriate situations, as well as this by the end of the course you will be able to interpret and draw conclusions from questions, and communicate conclusions appropriately to others.

What Will I Learn in a Level 4  Functional Maths Course?

There are 13 learner outcomes that you will be taught as part of the level 4 functional maths syllabus. And it is hoped that by the end of the course you will be able to:

  1. Explain how mathematics can be used to enable the individual to function more effectively
  2. Discuss the presence of variables in a range of real-life situations
  3. Convert from scientific notation to standard form and standard form to scientific notation
  4. Use appropriate strategies including estimation and percentage error to give approximations
  5. Use a calculator with confidence to perform extended calculations,
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the laws of indices and the rules of logarithms by using the laws and rules to simplify expressions, solve equations, and transpose formulae
  7. Differentiate between simple interest and compound interest by applying the appropriate given formula to a range of savings and credit options
  8. Calculate pay slips in detail including VAT and other taxes
  9. Solve quadratic equations using factors and the quadratic formula
  10. Solve algebraic equations including linear equations and linear inequalities of one variable, simultaneous linear equations of two unknowns
  11. Construct algebraic expressions and formulae for real-life situations
  12. Solve problems for a range of familiar and unfamiliar, meaningful, real-life situations by mathematising the
    situations, making an initial model of the situation, deciding on appropriate mathematical techniques and tools to use in the situation,  and discussing and presenting results and conclusions concerning the situation
  13. Discuss areas where additional mathematical skills could be developed to meet personal needs to enable a more active role in a community, educational or workplace setting.

At a glance, this looks like a lot of work, but this course is designed in such a way that you will be given ample time to focus on each area as well as truly understand the function of maths.

Practical maths skills
Learning maths as an adult can really benefit your life in so many ways from organising your personal finances to increasing your employability - Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Example of Questions / Topics in Level 4 Functional Maths

There are so many topics covered in the functional maths level forecourse that I couldn't possibly give Jane an example of every one of them in this article. However, I am going to show you a few examples just to show you how practical it really can be and my hope is that these examples will also show you that it's not that scary to take on maths as an adult.

Example 1:

This is an example of a calculation style question that you may be asked during your level 4 course.

Alan and his friend share an apartment. They divide all the bills evenly between them. This month’s gas bill is €78.80, the WiFi bill is €35 and the electricity bill is €94.60. How much does each housemate have to pay?

To find the answer to this question you would have to add all three bills together and then divide the total by two.

Example 2:

The next example which I am going to show you is in regards to income and payslips. And this is possibly one of the most beneficial aspects of learning maths as an adult not only can you keep an eye on your own income but it also enables you to calculate and tax or VAT to you may owe or be entitled to.

Ellen is a Barista. She works a 24-hour week and is paid €11.45 an hour. Ellen gets paid time and a half for overtime. This week she worked her regular hours plus 5 hours overtime.

What is Ellens’s gross pay?

She also paid the 4% USC on her gross income, how much USC did Ellen pay?

To answer the first part of this question you will need to multiply €11.45 by 24 to find her average weekly earnings. You will then need to divide  €11.45 by 2 and then add €11.45 to that amount to find out what time and half overtime is worth for Ellen. Once you have found out what that amount this you are multiplied by five and added to her typical weekly wage.

The second part of this question is a little bit more complicated but it's still manageable, and once you know how to calculate percentages it will come in super handy in your everyday life.

To find this answer you will first need to know that every single percentage is 1 out of 100. Which means 1% = 0.01, therefore 4%. = 0.04.

So to calculate how much USC Ellen paid, you will simply use your calculator to multiply her earnings by 0.04.

Personal budget
Once you know how to calculate things like percentages not only will you understand how much taxes you pay or are owed, but you can also calculate how much can save whether it be for a vacation or Christmas your money will seem much more manageable - Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

 Where and How Can I Study Level 4 Functional Maths?

The majority of VEC (previously community colleges) offer adult education classes. Adults who choose to resume their learning later in life have the opportunity to combine learning with family, work and other responsibilities, as most of these courses take part for only a few hours a week you are not as restricted as you would be taking on the whole Leaving Cert.

You wish for more advice on Level 4 Functional Maths you can visit the Further Education and Training Hub.

For more help and guidance when it comes to Leaving Cert Maths, visit the following articles:

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Maureen

Hey, I'm Maur/Mo, I'm a writer from Ireland. I've written a novel and a lot of poetry and fiction. Currently, I work as a content writer at superprof