By Keelan Balderson, first-year Journalism student
If you’ve been out of education for a while and are considering going to university as a ‘mature student,’ you probably have some doubts. At 27, I did too.
I’ve forgotten how to use a pen, will I be accepted by people younger than me? What even are lectures and seminars anyway?
You’ll soon get over these worries and learn to thrive – here are five reasons why…
You’re Not Leaving Home for the First Time
At 18 and 19 many are going through the huge transition of leaving home and taking full responsibility for themselves. As a mature student you’ve probably already made this leap or at least mastered all those little hurdles like cooking (popping it in the oven), doing the washing (and ironing), shopping for everything you need (at Aldi), and budgeting effectively.
You might also be lucky enough to have overcome the daily anxieties that so many young people feel. This makes your first few weeks much less stressful than they could be.
All the Same Funding is Available
Paying for tuition and living costs was the first thing that crossed my mind when becoming a mature student. Fortunately, you have all the same options regardless of age. Your program can be paid for with the often-misunderstood student loan, which you should really view as an income tax upon earning £21,000.
Depending on your current finances you may also be eligible for an added maintenance loan to cover rent and other day-to-day expenses. If you’re used to managing your money because you’ve been doing it for years, you may actually be surprised at how much you do get.
Partying Isn’t a Distraction
Don’t get me wrong I still love a good Saturday night out. Socialising is also an important part of student life. However if like me you’ve already been to enough nightclubs, seen enough guest acts, you can benefit from slowing the pace and being hungover in the middle of the week.
Furthermore, private renting with bills and furnishings is abundant for everyone in Lincoln, so you don’t need to live in the large student blocks or other student accommodation, which are prone to loudness and distractions.
If partying is not your thing at all, there’s also an endless list of societies and groups you can join via the Student Union.
You Have Experience to Contribute
Studying with sharp-minded college and school-leavers can seem daunting, but remember you have years of work and life experience they don’t. The subject you’ve chosen is also probably something you’ve engaged with during this time.
This makes discussions in seminars personally rewarding and beneficial to the group as a whole. Case-in-point, I could contribute naturally on topics like the wars in the Middle East and legislation during a politics for journalists seminar, because I lived through them and have already written about them.
You also get to expand your own horizons by learning things younger students tend to be more knowledgeable about – it’s a win-win.
There’s Help if you need to Brush-Up
Transitioning straight from school or college to university does have some technical advantages. For example writing essays in the desired way and answering exam questions is second nature, even if you’re expected to step it up a bit.
If you aren’t sure what’s expected you can brush-up at the library where they offer “academic writing support drop-in” sessions covering essays, reports, reflective writing and all kinds of assignments.
Your personal tutor and lecturers are also extremely friendly and helpful. Just drop them an email!
Going to university is an adjustment at any age, so don’t put it off just because you’re older. You might soon find your age is an advantage!