It’s midnight, I’ve already spent 3 hours on the phone trying to calm my nan down who’s hallucinating, telling me she is seeing men stab each other in her house. She has severe Alzheimer’s. I help my mum to calm her down. The phone goes a further 3 times that night, my nan has now gone missing. We go looking for her and find her walking the streets in the early hours of the morning, we take her home and settle her. I sleep for a few hours then I’m up early for my 9.15 media law lecture.

It’s the first year of my Journalism degree, I am the only “mature” student.

The class reminds me of being back at school, people seem timid and nervous of speaking in class discussions. The lecturer quickly learns my name, probably because I’m not afraid to speak up, and therefore stood out like a sore thumb!

As soon as the lecture has finished I rush off home to help look after my nan and granddad, also my mum who is caring for them.

“Why do you always rush off, why don’t you join us for food?”

One of my peers ask, before excitedly talking about going home to nap.

These have been part of my experiences of going to university as a mature student, juggling and balancing responsibilities, working and attending lecturers.

There is a 11-year age gap between myself and my peers, I thought that gap would be too big to really connect with them, how wrong I was.

I have got close to all of my class, in different ways, developing great relationships, the one thing connecting us being education.

It has been difficult and challenging at times coming into education at my age, purely having to balance everything. However, it was the right time for me to do it and I have overcome hurdle after hurdle, the most recent ones being both my Nan and Grandad passing away, just 11 weeks apart. The whole time my peers being incredibly supportive, and the lecturers even more supportive. In all my different experiences in life, I have not experienced such support and understanding. They support, inspire, criticise, and of course teach, sometimes under stressful or difficult situations, but don’t let this affect them and their role.

The support I felt was echoed by other mature students too, Henry Benson, aged 22 “For me, being a mature student has not been challenging, university has been really supportive, I’ve faced no problems, no stigma or anything like that. I’m really enjoying it and have no bad words to say.”

Louise De Freitas, aged 38, “It has been challenging initially because everyone is a lot younger than you and that takes quite a bit of getting used to. But there’s a lot of support, and it has been a really positive experience and there’s nothing negative to say really.

Being a mature student, its actually good to be given the opportunity and to come back to university. There isn’t really any stigma, although people are younger than you, everyone just gets on with it and you come together as a group.

Obviously being on the course, you have something in common, you can talk to each other about what you’ve done and work together, it always good to share ideas.”

40% of students are over 30 which comes a surprise to me, due to me being the only mature student in my class. Here at University of Gloucestershire, there are mature students’ socials and meetings, offering support. To be honest I have not attended any of these, connecting with my peers instead. Arguably being the only older person in the class meant it could’ve been more difficult to engage and connect, but having compared this journalism class to other classes that have a more than one older students, I found that they tend to stick together and not mix very much with the younger ones. For that reason, I am glad I am the only one, I would actively encourage all students to mix together – regardless of age, I have learnt from my experience that you can learn off each other.

Now in my third year I have found perceptions of a 30-year-old have been interesting and sometimes shocking, perceptions from professionals and also fellow students.

“You’ve clearly had a career change late in life.”

The person that said this to me didn’t know me, or my past and this was our first conversation in a professional, and industry capacity.

“I think someone middle-aged, around age 30, would read this type of magazine.”

A fellow student said this whilst analysing magazine titles, much to the shock of my lecturer and me.

“Oh my god, I don’t watch Loose Women, what do you think I am, like 30?!”

“Yeah there’s a few old people on our course, I think ones like 24, the other ones 29.”

Interestingly when interviewing my peers, the perception wasn’t the same and students were shocked at my age. I had comments like, “You don’t look old”, “I was shocked that you are the age you are”, “It’s just like you’re our age.”

One student, Callum, who I connected with straightaway despite the age gap said, “You have a screen protector on your phone, you are obviously old! 30-year-olds at university know who they are. When we turn up, age 18, you don’t know who the hell you are, you don’t know who you like, what you like, what you don’t like, your only experience of life is being in sixth form. I turn up to lectures now because I know I don’t have to do the party thing, I’ve done it already.”

Natalie Bradshaw, also in my class, “I didn’t realise you were 30, I didn’t think about it. In a way I think it’s good you’ve come later because we started off doing journalism not knowing that that’s what we actually want to do whereas you’ve worked, got experience and probably know what you want to do. There’s no harm in doing it later.”

Regardless of the age difference and challenges I’ve faced, I have met and worked with a lovely bunch of people who I hope to be in contact with for a very long time. Education unites people, you grow together through your learning, and overcoming obstacles together.

It’s midnight, I’ve already spent 3 hours on the phone trying to calm my Nan down who’s hallucinating, telling me she is seeing men stab each other in her house. She has severe Alzheimer’s. I help my Mum to calm her down. The phone goes a further 3 times that night, my Nan has now gone missing. We go looking for her and find her walking the streets in the early hours of the morning, we take her home and settle her. I sleep for a few hours then am up early for my 9.15 media law lecture.

It’s the first year of my Journalism degree, I am the only “mature” student.

The class reminds me of being back at school, people seem timid and nervous of speaking in class discussions. The lecturer quickly learns my name, probably because I’m not afraid to speak up, and therefore stood out like a sore thumb!

As soon as the lecture has finished I rush off home to help look after my Nan and Grandad, also my Mum who is caring for them.

“Why do you always rush off, why don’t you join us for food?”

One of my peers ask, before excitedly talking about going home to nap.

This has been part of my experiences of going to university as a mature student, juggling and balancing responsibilities, working and attending university.

There is a 11-year age gap between myself and my peers, I thought that that gap would be too big to really connect with them, how wrong I was.

I have got close to all of my class, in different ways, developing great relationships, the one thing connecting us being education.

It has been difficult and challenging at times coming into education at my age, purely having to balance everything, however, it was the right time for me to do it and I have overcome hurdle after hurdle, the most recent ones being both my Nan and Grandad passing away, just 11 weeks apart. The whole time my peers being incredibly supportive, and the lecturers even more supportive. In all my different experiences in life, I have not experienced such support and understanding. They support, inspire, criticise, and of course teach, sometimes under stressful or difficult situations, but don’t let this affect them and their role.

The support I felt was echoed by other mature students too, Henry Benson, aged 22 “For me, being a mature student has not been challenging, university has been really supportive, I’ve faced no problems, no stigma or anything like that. I’m really enjoying it and have no bad words to say.”

Louise De Freitas, aged 38, “It has been challenging initially because everyone is a lot younger than you and that takes quite a bit of getting used to. But there’s a lot of support, and it has been a really positive experience and there’s nothing negative to say really.

Being a mature student, its actually good to be given the opportunity and to come back to university. There isn’t really any stigma, although people are younger than you, everyone just gets on with it and you come together as a group.

Obviously being on the course, you have something in common, you can talk to each other about what you’ve done and work together, it always good to share ideas.”

40% of students are over 30 which comes a surprise to me, due to me being the only mature student in my class. Here at University of Gloucestershire, there are mature students’ socials and meetings, offering support. To be honest I have not attended any of these, connecting with my peers instead. Arguably being the only older person in the class meant it could’ve been more difficult to engage and connect, but having compared this journalism class to other classes that have a more than one older students, I found that they tend to stick together and not mix very much with the younger ones. For that reason, I am glad I am the only one, I would actively encourage all students to mix together – regardless of age, I have learnt from my experience that you can learn off each other.Now in my third year I have found perceptions of a 30-year-old have been interesting and sometimes shocking, perceptions from professionals and also fellow students.

  • “You’ve clearly had a career change late in life.”

The person that said this to me didn’t know me, or my past and this was our first conversation in a professional, and industry capacity.

 

  • “I think someone middle-aged, around age 30, would read this type of magazine.”

A fellow student said this whilst analysing magazine titles, much to the shock of my lecturer and me.

 

  • “Oh my god, I don’t watch Loose Women, what do you think I am, like 30?!”
  • “Yeah there’s a few old people on our course, I think ones like 24, the other ones 29.”

 

Interestingly when interviewing my peers, the perception wasn’t the same and students were shocked at my age. I had comments like, “You don’t look old”, “I was shocked that you are the age you are”, “It’s just like you’re our age.”

One student, Callum, who I connected with straightaway despite the age gap said, “You have a screen protector on your phone, you are obviously old! 30-year-olds at university know who they are. When we turn up, age 18, you don’t know who the hell you are, you don’t know who you like, what you like, what you don’t like, your only experience of life is being in sixth form. I turn up to lectures now because I know I don’t have to do the party thing, I’ve done it already.”

Natalie Bradshaw, also in my class, “I didn’t realise you were 30, I didn’t think about it. In a way I think it’s good you’ve come later because we started off doing journalism not knowing that that’s what we actually want to do whereas you’ve worked, got experience and probably know what you want to do. There’s no harm in doing it later.”

Regardless of the age difference and challenges I’ve faced, I have met and worked with a lovely bunch of people who I hope to be in contact with for a very long time. Education unites people, you grow together through your learning, and overcoming obstacles together.

 

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