University | Reflecting On My First Year As A Mature Student

I'll admit, when I applied to uni for the second time at the age of 26, the words 'mature student' terrified me a little bit. Lets be honest, it doesn't sound like something you particularly want to be referred to as - right?

But after successfully surviving my first year of university as a mature (but mostly immature) student, I wanted to share with you my experience and the things I learned along the way!

No-one actually cares | 
This is probably the most important one. For the first few weeks of my course last year, in that funny little period where everyone is sussing each other out, I had a lot of people asking me what halls I was in, how did I do in my a-levels, am I going out to freshers etc etc, to which I'd reply 'NO HUN IM 26, LIVE WITH MY HUSBAND AND CAN'T THINK OF ANYTHING WORSE THAN £1 JAGERBOMBS, CATCH ME IN BED AT 9PM'. Cue a lot of shocked faces, people telling me I look a lot younger and then - get this - how cool they thought it was that I'd applied. Fast forward to the end of the year, I've made friends with a load of 18-20 year olds and apart from the odd joke about my age when anyone would mention something that happened before the year 2000, it was completely forgotten that I was any older than the rest of them!

Better relationship with tutors | 
Obviously it depends on the tutor, but I generally found last year that I had a much better relationship with staff members than most of my class did and it made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. When I attended uni - briefly - years ago, I'll admit I was a bit of a shit and had absolutely zero respect for my teachers and always thought the world was against me and I was too arrogant to accept any type of constructive criticism. Don't get me wrong, 99% of my class last year were lovely and were nothing but hardworking and polite to our tutors so I'm not saying it's explicitly an age thing but I definitely feel like being a bit older has matured me in that sense and having that positive relationship with the staff made the year so much more fun and fulfilling.

Better work ethic | 
Okay, so everyone is different and other people's experiences of being a mature student might differ, but for me, I definitely found that my work ethic had come on leaps and bounds since the first time I attended uni. I actually wanted to turn up every morning, didn't sack off my early sessions for extra time in bed and I always had my work done and handed in on time which is a complete contrast to years ago when it would be a miracle if I turned up to uni on time, with my work done and in a positive mindset for the day ahead. I actually LOOKED FORWARD to doing my work for the most part, and I can't even tell you how excited I am to get back to uni tomorrow and start everything up again!

There for the right reasons |
The majority of people who apply to uni are there because they want to be and they're studying a subject that will lead them to their dream career, but a small percentage are there because they feel like uni is something you have to do, or there are those that are there mainly just to move out of home and party for 9 months of the year! When I decided to reapply, there were a lot of things I had to take into account. I'd be losing out on a full time wage, I'd have to wait until at least the age of 30 before I'd graduate and get myself closer to having a career, and it meant postponing things like having kids and buying a house etc. Ultimately, I'm there because I want to carve out a career for myself in my chosen field and I think the fact that I'm older gives me a lot more drive to succeed and do something with my degree, which is a mindset I definitely didn't have when I was younger. 

I still made friends |
I think this was one of my biggest worries when starting uni, and I'm feeling the same about going back tomorrow when I'll be in a whole new class! Whoever sorts the timetables at my uni definitely need a job chat because I didn't get mine last year until a week after my course had started, which wasn't ideal and meant that I went in on my first day not knowing anyone, whereas everyone else had already had the week to bond. I spent my first day eating lunch alone but fast forward to a few days later and I'd gotten to know a few of the gals in my class who became my friends for the rest of the year! While it's very unlikely that you'll stay friendless, I think it's just important to try and chat to people around you as much as you can, even if you feel uncomfortable - chances are everyone else is feeling the same way too!

Not the 'typical' uni experience but still an experience | 
Since I wasn't living in halls, was probably a bit too old to attend freshers week with all the 18 year olds and I'm, well, married, I was worried about what kind of uni experience I'd have and whether or not it would be as amazing for me as everyone said it was. Yeah, okay, it kind of sucks that I didn't get to try what living in student halls is like, and I never got to see what all the fuss surround freshers week was about, but on the plus side, I woke up every single day in the first week without a hangover and my flat is clean and tidy and I don't have to worry about anyone stealing my food - except my husband, obviously. While there are so many things that, yes, I have missed out on, the whole point of attending university is to study a subject you're passionate about and I've been able to do that without feeling like I'm the odd one out, and probably enjoying the overall uni experience just the same as everyone else.

Although it's early days, re-applying to university has been one of the best decisions I've made as an adult and I've found it nothing but rewarding and fulfilling. It's enabled me to move to a new city with endless opportunities, put myself out there and test my creativity, and I was finally able to get out of the mundane routine of working full-time as a waitress!
I honestly wasn't sure what to expect going into my degree as a mature student, but honestly it's no different at all and I'm so happy with where I'm at and what's to come!

What was your uni experience like?

Always, Alice x

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