Going Back To University As A Mature Student
By YOUniversityTV – Going back to university as a mature student can be daunting. From making sure your bills continue to be paid, to that nagging feeling you might not “fit in” amongst a sea of millennial teens. Heading back to complete your education is often seen as one of the bravest things you can undertake.
Here are a few ways that your experience of university might differ from the traditional 18 – 21 age bracket and how you can work those differences to your advantage.
Your Priorities Will Differ
This one is pretty obvious. For most mature students, the carefree existence of early adulthood has been replaced with families, cars, mortgage repayments and other similarly scary things!
Most mature students spend their spare time working a part time job rather than hunting down the best bars and nightclubs. Similarly, older students might tire of the same things that younger people thrive off.
How To Cope: Despite popular belief, universities are full of more than first and second year students on a constant pub crawl. You’ll find mature undergrads, masters and PHD level academics plus researchers and lecturers. All these people tend to be of an older demographic and have left the hedonistic student lifestyle well behind.
Our advice would be to avoid attempting to completely fit in with the younger crowd. In a university made up of thousands of students, try to find those that share your age range, experience and interests. Most universities have a mature students society where you can socialise with others your own age.
You’ll Probably Ditch Typical “Student Accommodation”
Remember those awful bedsits, shared houses and flats from your first university experience? Well, as a mature student you’ll naturally shun those experiences the second time around. You would think this could make finding an inexpensive, decent place to call home difficult, but that would be so, so wrong.
How To Cope: Most universities will offer “mature accommodation”, that’s to say they often keep back certain blocks of flats for more mature students to stay in. You’ll find this more apparent if you study at a university with a large mature and/or post graduate community.
Away from the halls of residence, you’ll find some privately rented accommodation will prefer “mature tenants” over younger students. It’s in these house shares you’ll find older tenants who won’t leave the milk out, come back at 3 in the morning drunk or be partial to all night house parties!
Phew, at-least you’ll get some peace to finish that dissertation off!
You’ll Have A More Serious Attitude To Studying
With all the sacrifices mature students make to attend university, you’ll find yourself making absolutely sure you have everything you need to complete your course with good grades.
Be prepared to have a different outlook on study to your fellow students. You may also be shocked at the lack of preparation, thought or care that some students display.
How To Cope: Try not to judge younger students, we were all young once and if we’re completely honest, we’ve all made silly mistakes.
For the most part, others students effort, (Or lack thereof) shouldn’t really become an issue. However, during some semesters, where you might be asked to complete teamwork, it could become a big problem.
We would advise you make connections early on in your university career, discovering the students who have a good work ethic, and look to be placed with them during team or lab work. If you’re unfortunate enough to be placed within a group that’s not performing well, discuss your concerns with your lecturer.
Tutors see these issues come up again and again. They will often work with you to ensure your individual marks are not hampered by others lack of care.
Your Other Students Will Be Quite A Diverse Bunch
This was very true for me when I went back to complete my undergraduate degree. Before attending college/university, I worked in a pretty white, male dominated industry. Being around others who were from different ethnic backgrounds, genders or social economic backgrounds was a little scary at first. How would be get on, would we have anything common to talk about?
How To Cope: The best thing to do here is not worry! One of the best things university offered the second time around was to introduce me to all sorts of new experiences. Since graduating I’ve noticed my general outlook on life has somewhat “softened” and I now understand some of the things other people might go through in life to get where they want to be.
One Final Thing
However scared, worried or apprehensive you might feel about going back to university, you’ll be in exactly the same boat as all other students in your group. Even as a mature student, there are common things all students get worried about, young or old, rich or poor.
Try not to sweat the small stuff and focus on your reasons for being there, to get a great education and experience new things!