According to UCAS, “Mature students are defined as any student aged 21 or over at the start of their studies. Just over a half are aged between 21 and 24, 38 per cent between 25 and 39, and 10 per cent are over 40 when they commence their courses”. So, clearly, I’m in the 10% bracket but, I’ve embraced my mature student status with enthusiasm and here’s why:
1. Extra life experience is a very positive thing – having a few more miles on the clock than the majority of my peers has proven to be a significant benefit. Approaching tasks with an open mind has been vital, while standing back and observing before jumping in has been an important lesson, on the whole, my understanding of commerce and the world of work has given me great insight. I’ve found it natural to work in groups as I’ve been used to co-operating with others and this has made the whole experience a very comfortable and rewarding one. It’s been straight forward to understand module topics and intricate theories as I have been able to associate them with ‘real life’ examples, drawing from situations I have been involved in myself. Perhaps, if I had chosen a subject that had no relevance to my past roles this may have been less applicable, however, the Digital Marketing course at Robert Gordon University has given me topics that have been pertinent to my own work life and, in addition, I can easily see how they will be applied to my future work.
2. Making friends is easy – the biggest fear I had on my first day at University was that all the younger students would not wish to mix with me and therefore the experience would be a lonely one. I imagined their interests would be so diverse from mine that they would have no desire to communicate with me, I could not have been more wrong. With mature students, there are no barriers unless you put them up yourself. The younger ones don’t care what I wear or how I look, they’re not interested in what club I’m not going to on a Thursday night – all they care about is me as a human being and I have been incredibly lucky to have found the most wonderful group of lifelong pals. It’s true to say that if you keep yourself to yourself and don’t attempt to talk to people then your experience will differ from mine, however my advice is that you must be confident – you have a lot to offer and your younger counterparts will be far more friendly and welcoming than you think. As Gavin and Smithy put it; “Make friends, make friends, never, never break friends”:
3. Planning comes naturally – as a mature student it is highly likely that you will already need to be organised and prepared in your everyday life. For me, having children, a husband, a home to run and dogs to look after has proven that I’ve needed to establish routines, make lists and prioritise tasks for most of my life. I’ve simply applied these skills to my studies, and it has proven a successful formula. As soon as we are given assignments, I plot the tasks and deadlines to ensure there are no last-minute stresses. My creation of lists is legendary in our family (my husband even included reference to it in his Wedding speech, to my mortification!) and the plotting of tasks in order of priority has most certainly been advantageous and possibly the most important life skill I have brought to my education journey.
4. Dedication is unmistakable – returning to education may not be the easiest of decisions and is certainly not the norm at my age. The fact that we have decided to make the sacrifice to change our lives so dramatically makes us considerably dedicated to our education path. The commitment to learning gives us a single-mindedness to succeed in every aspect of our new study world. For me, there is also a significant fear of failure involved, particularly as my youngest son will be sitting his Scottish National 5 exams next year – I have a lot to prove to him as well as myself. However, I have transformed this fear into a challenge – I need to be a superb role model for my sons and make them proud that I can achieve good grades, after all, I’ve been telling them how important education is all their lives, it’s now time to practice what I preach. I could not have been more relieved, therefore, when my first semester results were announced and my obsession to achieve A grades became reality.
5. Rapport with lecturers is effortlessly built – I quickly found that I was very comfortable talking to my lecturers, the majority of which are younger than me, I might add. Asking questions in class came naturally from the start as I had a confidence that if I needed to know something then it was probably true that my peers also had questions about the same topic. I feel at ease chatting to lecturers in tutorials because I’m used to communicating with people from all walks of life and don’t have any discomfort in explaining my thoughts or ideas. I believe this is also because I have several things in common with the education team, some have children, others grandchildren and their interests are perhaps more aligned with mine which gives me a comfort that they’ve seen it all before and have been asked far more ‘daft’ questions than I could ever come up with. And, for the older lecturers I even understand their “Boomer humour“, although I’m not a Boomer myself, I am married to one and, as such, the jokes fall easily on me.
So, being a mature student most certainly has its advantages and for me the journey is incredibly rewarding, I relish and look forward to every day at Uni and am determined to the point of obsession to achieve the highest level of degree possible. The education bug has infected me to the point that I’m already thinking about a Masters and possibly even a Phd. Who knows where this adventure will take me? But, I’m very much looking forward to finding out and I thank my readers for following my endeavours.
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Have a great day!
The Voice of The Mature Student Tribe