Published: May 1, 2018
Starting university is a daunting experience for any student. Moving away, having to meet new people, learning to be independent... it can all be quite overwhelming. Nevertheless, at 18 years old you have a lot more in common with the people you share accommodation with to forge new friendships. So what about when you’re starting university at 21+?
Speaking from personal experience, re-starting education at 29, I initially found it to be quite isolating. As I’ve progressed through my studies I have actually found that age is just one of those things, and it need not be a barrier to building excellent relationships with your peers. Your age puts you at a great advantage to offer a wealth of life experience (in a non-condescending way). Also, having done University in my youth gave me the experience that I no longer felt I needed, such as going out partying – been there, done that, worn the T-shirt, bought the DVD.
There has always been this notion that going back into education at a mature age is difficult, and that learning provides many more challenges than that of other students, which I feel is an incorrect notion. Admittedly, it can prove challenging initially, as the process of re-learning to learn is a steep curve but once you’re there it’s fine! I feel much more at ease about how I pursue academia now than I did at 19 because it is easier to address the work-life balance. It must be said though, this can be slightly more challenging for those with families and homes to run but I know several students my age and older who manage fine with all of these extra responsibilities.
As a mature student, I have found it much easier to prioritise, and I suppose because I now know what I want to do with my life, I have the drive and ambition to pursue it and make the best experience I can with regards to learning. Another reason why I suppose I am doing just fine in education is that I’m prepared to make a few sacrifices – which is inevitable for any student regardless of age.
Once you get past the ‘OMG, I’m old’ thing, you’ll realise that you have more in common with your younger peers than a few measly years! You’re all in it together to share this wonderful learning experience and there will be times you have to count on each other for a bit of moral support (especially during exam period, or when it’s time to cry into your dissertation paper!).
Embrace, encourage and enjoy!