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What is it like to be a mature student?

What is it like to be a mature student?

I was 27 when I went to University.  I didn’t think University was the right choice for me when I was younger, however after spending several years out of education, I changed my mind.  I wanted more out of life, I wanted a career that I truly enjoyed and didn’t dread each time I woke up and I hoped that applying to university would give me that opportunity.

My dream was to apply for a Criminology and Criminal Justice course at university but the first step that I took was signing up for an Access to Higher Education course at my local college.  After being away from education for so long I wanted to prepare myself and I’m glad I did!  Without it I wouldn’t have been confident to write an essay, let alone know how to reference it! 

The application process

When it came to applying for my actual university course, I did have some slight worries – how on earth do I go about writing a personal statement?  What do I need to include?  What if I don’t get accepted?  What if I’ve wasted my time at college? 

Applying to university is a nerve-wracking time, whatever your age, as it’s such a huge life change but thankfully I had great support to back me up and help me relax a little more.  My college tutors were there to offer me guidance and I found the UCAS website really helpful, with lots of information to help me through the process.

Once my application had been filled in, I still spent many nights worrying about the new path I was about to take.  Would I enjoy the course?  Would I understand the lectures?  How am I going to support myself financially? 

Putting my mind at rest

I saw that the Criminology team were holding a subject open day, which gave students the opportunity to visit the university, take a tour of the facilities and meet the course tutors and current students.  The tutors put on a mock lecture, discussed all the modules that would be covered during the course and held a question and answer session for all attendees.  Going along to the open day was definitely one of the best things I did – it helped to put all my anxieties to rest and gave me the opportunity to ask anything that I needed to know before starting my course. 

It made me realise that I’d been panicking for no reason and I had in fact underestimated my own abilities.  If you are thinking of attending university, whether you’re a teenager or a mature student, I really recommend visiting an open day in advance as this will really give you a taster of what to expect and to help put your mind at rest.

Financing my studies

The next big decisions I had to make revolved around money.  I knew that going to university would be expensive so I had to decide whether I would continue working while studying.  Although I was determined to be dedicated to my studies, I was realistic about the financial aspect of it all. 

I applied for finance through Student Finance Wales – I was really surprised how straightforward it all was.  I took the decision to live at home rather than apply for accommodation, as I knew this would help to save money.  When I started university I applied for the role of Student Ambassador. This is a flexible position within the Admissions and Enquiries team which fits around my studies and has really opened up a lot of opportunities to me – not only has it provided me with some great experience, but it allowed me to earn a bit of extra cash, which really helped.

A mature outlook

Coming to university as a mature student was definitely the best decision I made.  Personally for me, the time hadn’t been right before but now I feel I have a much more mature attitude towards studying and my future career.

Initially I didn’t like referring to myself as a ‘mature’ student – I’m only in my late 20s! However, you are considered to be a mature student if you’re 21 or over!

I was concerned that I would be the oldest person on my course and have nothing in common with any of my classmates but I needn’t have worried; the age range in my class was varied and I met a lot of fascinating people from all walks of life.

If I had to give some advice to future students – mature or otherwise:

  • Attend an open day before you start to put your mind at rest.
  • Make sure you attend every lecture (you pay a lot of money for your course, make the most of it!)
  • Arrange to meet with your personal tutor – they are a source of great support.
  • Read, read, read! You’ll really benefit from the understanding of a subject that your tutor will be discussing in lectures.

And last but not least – enjoy yourself! University has been a great experience so far and I’m really looking forward to what the future brings.

About the author

Katie French

Katie French

Katie is in her final year studying BA (Hons) Criminology and Criminal Justice at Wrexham Glynd┼Ár University.

During the summer holidays she works as a Student Ambassador with the Applicant Support Team whose role is to build relationships with students intending to come to the University in September and support them through the process.