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.