After a harrowing experience at my last job, I was forced to re-evaluate my career path and my personal goals. I had worked in an office doing administration, but now I wanted to be in a creative role, with more freedom to do what I enjoy. How was I going to do this? What qualifications did I need? What training did I need to do?
Before all this university wasn’t an option for me, I wasn’t particularly interested, and after college I was bored with education. But after I had left my job, the option had snuck back onto the table. After my job my confidence was shattered, and I struggled to believe that any university could possibly want me, but my application was accepted with no problem.
Then the other creeping thoughts started, I would be twenty-seven when I started, I’m going to be surrounded by eighteen year olds, how will I fit in? I haven’t written an essay for ten years, it’s going to be really difficult, where will I find the time to do everything?
I was very grateful to be able to do a foundation year before starting my degree pathway. To my surprise – and delight – I was not the oldest person in my foundation group, I think we outnumbered the eighteen-year olds! Also a few were progressing onto the same degree pathway as me, so as I started my first year there were already a few familiar faces.
I believe that being a mature student has actually helped me appreciate my time at Christ Church and try to take as much as I can from the experience. I have found that it has been fairly easy to integrate with other students because I am quite often consulted for advice. It has made me motivated to achieve my ‘end goal’. I already had the experience of managing my own place and finances compared to many students doing this all for the first time. I have worked at a variety of jobs so am aware of how invaluable careers advice and work-related experience is. I think I have managed to avoid a lot of stress because I know how to budget and I like my “housemates” (which are my partner and dog). Even just having the experience of different industries has resulted in a more fixed plan of what I want to do in the future.
What I would say to other mature students is; do not worry about your age as you have the added bonus of having a wealth of knowledge, which makes others gravitate to you. You do not have to learn how to live on your own and how to get a job for the first time. You know how precious your time at University is and how quick this time will pass, and you have probably got juggling your time down to a fine art.
To be fair all students, young and old, all face very similar and very different challenges, but it is all dependant on the individual. This is not to say that younger students don’t do just as well at University but, have you thought that your years put you at an advantage because as you go through your studies you will most likely be able to see the relevance of the skills you develop, and how they can be applied to the world of work? I didn’t either till I got to the end of the first semester in year one.