The first thing to realise when you’re about to head off to university as a mature student, is that anyone over the age of twenty-one is officially classed as ‘mature’. This will hopefully reassure those worried that they might well be the fossil in the class; you won’t be. The other thing to reassure is that universities aren’t just an extension of the playground for young whippersnappers fresh out of the box. Universities cater for people from all backgrounds and of all ages. Having a wander around your nearest university campus could really be helpful here. You will see all age ranges and more importantly, you will see like-minded groups of mature students hanging out together as well.
Get your Priorities Straight
The main difference between being an eighteen-year-old fresher, and an older one, is the change in priorities. Mature students have often decided to make a significant change to their lives through the power of education. You may have given up a well-paid job, and this might well be the first step of a major career change; either way, studying as a fully-fledged adult is a high stakes game. Whatever the circumstances, mature students bring with them a level of conviction and importance to their studies that are different from younger students.
Time, time, time
Mature students also have a more prickly relationship with time. While teen-aged undergrads are free to skip and hop about the campus at all times of day (and night), mature students have many more demands placed on their time. They may well be caring responsibilities for aging parents, or young children. There may be a significant other who you like to see from time to time. Being a mature student is certainly different – especially if you are going back to education after a long break, or are studying for a postgraduate qualification rather than an undergrad.
Time is precious; you will learn fast how to pack a trip to the library, coffee with friends, a seminar and a lecture followed, and preceded by the school run. Add to this that you’ll then head home and make sure everyone is fed – no dodgy potnoodles or take-away chips for you. Then... then you get to the hard work of studying: the reading, the writing, the research, and the joy of being a student.
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