A mature student is defined as someone who starts their undergraduate degree at 21 years old or above, and throughout my time at university I have studied alongside mature students as well as thinking of myself as one. I studied a graduate course at 25 and so I classed myself as a mature student! However, whatever the age of people, it’s just a number at the end of the day. From studying at an older age, what did I learn? Quite a lot – mainly about myself.
With any life experience it changes you, even if you don’t realise it at the time. When going to university at 18, I felt like that is what everyone else did, but on my course there were people who were older, and I think that makes you realise that yes university is a rite of passage to some, but to others it’s something that can become a choice at a later stage in life. You can defer places on courses, or gain qualifications needed to get on them at a later time, but it’s always a great thing to be accepted to study on them as that is where the learning begins!
In that sense, university could be taken for granted by some. When it’s seen as just an add-on to school, it might not be taken too seriously, especially not in the first year for many (depending on the course and work load). However, for others it can be seen as a lifeline or a stepping stone to becoming something else or someone new. If at 18 or a little older you don’t know what you want to do, a little bit of life experience can help with that and focus the mind on what your aim is for achieving a university qualification.
That’s what happened to me. I’ve spoken before about me choosing not to study psychology even though it was what I was really interested in and what I have studied since. After doing nothing with my undergraduate degree, I decided to go back to university at 25 because if I didn’t at least try, I knew I would regret it. I decided that gaining a psychology qualification would at least give me options, and it’s something I am so glad I did.
I think being a little older allows you to think more about what consequences your actions will have. Perhaps when you’re younger you go from one thing to the next and don’t stop to think about why you’re doing it and where you’ll end up. That’s what happened to me anyway. I’m by no means there yet as I am still studying, but if I hadn’t become a mature student, I wouldn’t have known it was possible for me to carry on studying. Until you try something, you don’t always know if it’s the right fit for you or even if it’s worthwhile, but at least you can try.
Have you been a mature student, or are you thinking of becoming one? Let me know in the comments section.