These days the prospect of having no job or career can be pretty daunting. As a mature student, the decision of putting ourselves back on the educational path is a bold one, and accepting having the label of a ‘mature student’ takes courage, especially in today’s economic climate. But while there’s nothing wrong with coming out of school or college and straight into a degree, being a mature student at university has its advantages.
For one, university retention rates of mature students tend to be much greater. They are proven to be more likely to pass their course because they are better equipped for living on their own, as well as being better prepared and able to cope with the academic pressures that university brings. It should be encouraging to know that mature students make up a third of the UK’s student population wanting to gain experience, develop themselves and go for that career change.
My experience as a mature student in higher education has been both a fulfilling and enjoyable one. With the friends I have made and the opportunities that have come my way, which looking back I probably never thought I could have, I feel I have been able to cope better than I would have been able to if I had come to university at a younger age.
In terms of life experience and varied skills mature students have much to bring to the table, because there’s a better chance they know what it is they want out of a degree and simply go for it, having little or no time to waste. Having that outside experience and knowing exactly what you want to study means you can throw your heart and soul into what you are learning. Surely this is what being a student is all about? Certainly this has always mirrored my thoughts and feelings.
Society has an image that undergraduates are simply teenagers straight out of school or college, but students should be better defined by their passion for learning. Of course the cost implications of coming to university later can’t be dismissed, and while the hike in fees last year is certainly a considerable factor, should this be a reason to put off getting a degree? Student loans aren’t like a standard debt, they are repaid like income tax when you have secured that dream job after your hard work. I am confident that my degree coupled with an internship, volunteer work and support from University will most definitely improve my prospects in the job market.
I hasten to add that once I thought I would never have reached university. But after being made redundant from my job in the economic downturn, to have turned my life around to the direction I wanted to go was a great achievement for me. Based on my experiences this term so far I would happily encourage other potential mature students to consider going back to education. If their experiences were anything like mine, I feel confident that they too would not look back.