If you’re a mature student heading to Uni in September, you might feel a bit apprehensive. First of all there will be all those bright young things, straight out of college, who might look at you a little differently. Then there’s the fact that you probably haven’t sat in a lecture theatre or taken an exam for a good few years. Plus the realisation that Universities have changed a lot in terms of the facilities and environments they offer students. So here’s our 101 guide to being a Student again – if you’re coming at it from the wrong side of 35…
Cost of Living
Mature students tend to have built up a life for themselves before heading back to Uni. That often means commitments that under-graduates don’t have. Maybe it’s a mortgage, a bank loan, or perhaps even Child maintenance payments. So on top of the basic cost of living that most students face – accommodation, food and beer – mature students will have to factor in their extra outgoings.
Funding can be a huge issue if you’re coming back to University as a mature student. In some cases you might not be eligible be eligible for student loans schemes, or you might not like the idea of getting into debt as, being older, you won’t have the working years left to pay it all off. Websites such as ScholarshipSearch might help you find scholarships or bursaries you can apply for that might help with a contribution to the cost of your studies.
Working whilst studying
Mature students go back to Uni for all sorts of reasons. Some might be taking a sabbatical from work. Others may be taking the opportunity after a major life event – such as the break up of a marriage or redundancy from a job. Whether you’ll need to work ‘on-the-side’ will depend on those circumstances, and what you do will depend on your experience. Of course, you may have some established skills that you can put to good use outside of your studies so you earn enough to finance your studies.
Time is a precious commodity when you’re studying – you’re at Uni to learn something and graduate with a qualification after all. But you may find your circumstances mean you have to compromise your time between that study, paid work and down time. That can be particularly challenging if you have children, but the good news is that most Universities in 2016 are geared up for parents with on site childcare and links to local schools. You’ll need to be smart and disciplined about balancing your study time with the rest of your day-to-day life.
Space for stuff
If you’re going to be putting yourself in Student accommodation, you’ll probably need to prepare yourself for some ‘shoebox’ living – a room with barely any additional space for any of the non-essential functions of living and studying. As a mature student, if you’ve got a bit of life experience under your belt, you’re likely to have a lot more possessions and belongings than the average under-graduate, so you’ll need somewhere to keep them all whilst you study. One option if you need access to it, but don’t have room for it – is a unit at a self storage centre like ours. We can provide a cost effective solution to keeping you stuff safe and sound whilst you study.
Life Experience and study ethnic
Universities tend to like mature students for a variety of reasons. Firstly – they tend to have a good study ethic as there can be more riding on the results of their course. Secondly their wider life experience means they can bring a different perspective to studying that benefits the whole group. Most under-graduates experience of life extends to their education and the things they did outside school and college in their formative years. As a mature student you might have already had one or more careers giving you a head start on the dealing with people and their egos.
Clubs and Societies
One of the fun things about being at University is the range of clubs and societies on offer at the Student Union and there will almost certainly be a Mature Student Society at your chosen University. If you’re in any way nervous about being a mature student ‘fresher’, get stuck in Freshers Fair and seek out the Society of your peers. You’ll be able to share experiences, hopes and fears with people who are facing the same challenges as you. You’ll almost certainly make friends for life.
If you’re a mature student heading back to University this Autumn we hope you have fun – study hard, work hard and play hard and we’re sure you’ll make a success of it.