The term ‘Mature’ student makes me laugh sometimes, as I am probably only two years older than most of my compadres but it is what I am, nonetheless. In the UK most people start University at 17 or 18 but many also may starter later for various reasons such as having gap years for travelling. Whilst others may just have a change of heart in adulthood and want to study a degree. Whatever their reasons though, the mature student can still engage just as any other aged student would normally. I will discuss the life of a mature student with often examples from my personal experiences.
This is a huge one for many students but mature students also have the added weight of being older than their peers. This does not necessarily but generally means different interests as they are in different periods of their life. They might have a family of their own or a business on the side so they don’t have the time or interest to ‘party’. I have neither of these things but fitting in hasn’t overly bothered me, as I would prefer a small circle of friends with passions similar to mine. Partying is not my passion. I had a year or two of that which got boring for me as it is not in my introvert personality. I choose to ostracize myself on purpose so that I am not questioning my self-identity. I feel that as a mature student you are better equipped to deal with this concern, as you are not as impressionable as most teenagers.
Life isn’t just a party
There are many other clubs and societies where you can play sports or engage in fun and intellectual conversations. Sure they may have partying on the side but you are an adult who can choose whether or not to go. Maybe you’ve already done your fair share of waking up at 7 am hungover on someone’s bathroom floor? In that case, clubs and societies are a great way at any age for meeting people, as you already have one common interest with the potential to explore more of them. Also, I feel that it provides a stress-free environment for getting to know someone properly so that you can find out if you want to hang out with them more often.
A great opportunity to learn something new with a fresh mindset
At a young age people are often pressurized with “What do you want to be when you’re older?” or “Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years”. How on earth are we supposed to know this when the brain is constantly developing and we are undergoing a process of self-discovery? At least as a mature student, you have less stress put on you and instead have many experiences that can help you to choose an area of interest. From there you will have a better idea of what you want to study as you have had time out in the real world to experience it. Also for me, having had no gap years it is very exhausting to be in education for so long. I feel that we as individuals can either do our best work with some time off, or in a gap year we may learn it is not for us. Either way, you can come back the next year with a fresh mindset and challenge yourself in whatever adventure your life takes next.
13 thoughts on “Life as a mature student”
I see you are ‘going through the journey’ now 🙂
Don’t worry, it takes time and all these are normal worries. You find this is where you actually start growing now and start attracting people that are just like you. Before friends are from when we are children or at school, you’re all different but kind of forced together. You’re in the best stage now, where you really meet people like yourself, even abroad and will stay friends forever.
Don’t let social pressure get to you too much. What you’re meant to do, job-wise, children etc. Do what makes you happy. Learning from experience, I did everything to make people proud of me and had everything but what was the point if I wasn’t happy? So I started everything again and I love it!
Thank you so much for the advice. I am glad you are loving the way that you do things now. I think this is an important thing for your self-esteem, confidence and overall mood.
The entire point about being matured is about knowing how to handle social pressure, when and whom to open up and when to be silent.
The irony is that the more you talk to people, the more you learn about when to be silent. It takes a lot of talking and living to get that experience.
My best advice for you will be to socialize. You will meet different characters in your life. Know what needs to be taken with a sack of salt and a pinch of salt.
I find that when you talk to more people you get better at picking out the ones that you want to keep around and talk to more. Sadly for me, that is something I am struggling to find as I prefer keeping a small circle of friends. I do not want to waste my time with people that do not interest me or will benefit my life. But perhaps sometimes I should tolerate and socialize more rather than thinking it always has to be more meaningful.
Like you, I didn’t have any gap years throughout my schooling. It is exhausting, but I also felt that it was worth it in the long run. It helped me to get started with my career a bit faster and I still feel that if I wouldn’t have kept going, I would have never gone back. I’m happy with my decision, but I also see the reason some others decide to wait and take some time off.
Some people I know took a gap, they went traveling or worked to build up some money. It was also a smart move. I think no matter what way you go, it has to be whatever the right path is for you. You have to be happy at the end of the day and do what feels right. If you are someone who takes some time off and are a “mature” student, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a good experience. Interact with different students and focus on your studies.
I really do relate with your first paragraph. It would have been difficult to return and your career might have been a lot different if you didn’t persist with education without breaks right? That is how I feel also.
It is important to do what suits you and not others. Do what feels right and it is possible to start a degree or new career at any age.
I’m not sure I would consider myself a mature student but I am around 2-3 years older than most. Whilst it doesn’t feel like a huge age gap, it still feels slightly weird when you realise they may not have the same experiences as you. It also helped me make some important decisions. Taking time off helps clear your mind and it can be great.
I am also the same age above most but at my university, it seems normal to be around my age, or even older. In England, though many go to university at 18.
What important decisions did it allow you to make?
I think fitting in is the most hardest part one can think of. I remember joining the college a year or so late in the university and the people were 2 years below my age. And it was difficult blending in and in fact that kind of gave me pretty rough estimation of how world can be different outside.
How did you try to blend in? Did you find any measures or techniques that worked well for you?
This is a great read and it’s great to read what other people joining at different years on entry view is. This also has some great pointers for those (including me hopefully) who are going to start uni this year.
Thank you! This post was just written from the perspective of and consideration for a mature student. But it can easily apply to anyone studying at university. Good luck!
Great article; how did you try and blend in? I’m currently finishing my Maths studies for Level 2 Functional Skills, and I hope to achieve the result by Summer 2021. Hoping that the exams won’t be canceled due to COVID.