The New Year is a big time for inspiring change in us, whether we make New Year resolutions or not. One change many people consider is going back into education in order to get better qualifications. I’m a mature student, so I thought I’d share my experience with you today.
Tomorrow I start the second term of my first year at university. At twenty five, I’m know I’m not the usual image people have of a mature student, in fact some of my classmates were surprised to learn I was older than them!
Insecurities about being a mature student
Before my first term started I was incredibly worried about the social aspects of university. Such as how things like group work and shared housing would go. Luckily I was not too worried about the workload, thanks to the Access to HE course I had studied previously. On the course I learned many helpful academic skills to help me survive. On the other hand socialising skills seemed to be something you are either good at or not. I considered myself a member of the bad socialising skills group. Luckily for me all the people I met the first few weeks were incredibly friendly and nice. That said I had a few problems later on in the term with flatmates. These problems were mostly superficial and aggravated by poor communication among flat members.
Housing is something that must be considered seriously as you maybe stuck there for the next year. Most of the other mature students on my course chose to commute from home. On the other hand I chose to live in halls to cut travel cost. To anyone thinking about going to university, I suggest going for rented accommodation rather than halls if you have sleep issues or not bothered about partying. One of my flat mates developed insomnia from how loud people could be in halls. This was not helped by the thin walls of the flats. The best part of living in halls for me has been the communal meals between flatmates. It is fun sharing recipes and all pitching money into a decent meal. During the fifth week my flat got together and made ourselves a delicious roast dinner.
Socialising as a mature student
One of the things that worried me the most was definitely the socialising aspect of university. I felt shy at first, as I was worried I wouldn’t fit in due to being older and not really a party animal. Once I began getting to know people I found age mattered very little to most of them. I also found that not everyone saw the first year as a doss year to party away. My course itself actually had a lot more mature students than I expected. The presence of others like myself helped boost my confidence. The wealth of group activities we did in class also helped. University still has some of the clique’s from school but they were not that prevalent on my course and societies.
My University offers a lot of support to its students, from health to study skills. On my course the lecturers were open and friendly about helping students in study skills lectures. One of my flat mates noted her lectures were not as open, preferring their students to show initiative. Thankfully the university library has a study skills section. There are also study skills tutors available in the library to help students with things like proof reading. The university also has a well being centre who aide students with any emotional, psychological or physical needs. The amount of support available really helps you to cope with university and settle in.
This most important thing I have learned is that no matter what the problem is you should talk to someone. There will be someone available to help. Struggling to deal with an issue alone can lead to more stress than it’s worth.