Is going to Uni as a mature student (late 20's/early 30's) still worth it?

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BigGeezyWee
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I'm 27, very unlikely be able to attend Uni this September so would have to wait until 2016, by then I'll be 28.

I've never been greatly determined or even interested in Uni. I always thought safely it was never for me. I've done many things in my life that where more vocational and have had a mixed life of on/off education and a vast work life

But, around August 2014 I started to consider ideas for Uni beyond simply just the studying - the travelling, the living in another part of the world, meeting new people, a change in life and a change in the dynamics of my current life, the consistency (because it lasts for three years) and now a new subject I believe I will really enjoy and love. Before then I had different interests in what I would study at Uni if I were to go. So waiting all this time isn't a bad thing as I may have just ended up going to Uni to study a subject ultimately doesn't mean that much to me or that I could do much with and never leaving my home city and not experiencing some of the above and more! (because now some of those points i made are extremely important, as important if not more important than the studying and Uni itself!)

I'm considering greatly going to University somewhere in England or Scotland (my mind jumps to places like Liverpool and Manchester straight away. I am from Northern Ireland fyi) and I am thinking of studying philosophy. I know philosophy isn't exactly the most vocational set-up for super financial success but its a subject I absolutely love

So all that said I would be going to Uni for the experience. Not so much the academic achievement to then go on into a specific employment relevant to my degree (don't misread as 'a way to avoid employment and kill three years', its not at all. I am a very ambitious person and know I will land on my feet regardless what I choose to do after the degree and already have vocational prospects lined up in relation to the degree)

So I'm wondering, as a 28 year old man would Uni still be worth while being in my late 20's and graduating at 31. I'm wondering at this age has my ship sailed for Uni already? Will Uni still be fun, or will I be an old man amongst kids (or made to feel so), will I still have 'the Uni experience' and the like. I know these are things people can not answer and predict for me, no one can predict but they are questions more to evoke responses based on how I feel (and im sure many other mature students feel similar) and I appreciate your opinions!

I like campus life, from my own little bit of experience and from my Uni friends experiences, I like the idea of living in student like accommodation (im not referring to the likes of dorms and on site rooms, but wouldn't say no for my first year being a new country so opinions on that would be appreciated. Do they even have dorms for mature students?) and living with like minded people and meeting like minded people.

After years of deciding not to go to Uni (and it was sincerely and genuinely my wish, so no regrets there) I'm wondering has the shipped sailed and would it be 'silly' to go and do a 'young persons' thing. 28 is nothing like 38 or 48, I don't wish to attend Uni feeling like an old person or it just makes me feel like im in the wrong place, amongst the wrong people etc

I hope im making sense and people can relate and share their own experience if you are yourself a mature student past or present and what age you where or even what it was like being a younger student with older students in your class or even as a house mate!

I appreciate your time and effort, this could potentially help me choose what and where I go in life in the near future!


So, opinions on:

- Cities to live in (im very interested to hear whats a fun, interesting city to live in)
- Has anyone else done a Philosophy degree? Was it worth it? Did you enjoy it? Where did you study? Any recommendations or warnings#

- Has anyone else went to Uni for the first time at this age (28 and older) How did you find it? Was it fun? Did you feel like you still obtained the Uni/student life you think you may have missed out on when you were younger?

- Was it worth it? Was it something you were happy you eventually done, older or not?

Thanks for your time everyone
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salemsparklys
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I first went to Uni age 35, I didn't feel too old or out of place, cant comment on the "fun" side as I was there to work and my course was quite demanding, plus I am married and have children. I am going to be doing it all again so it cant have been that bad lol.
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username1221160
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You're ship certainly has not sailed. If it is niggling at you, I would certainly seriously consider going to uni at your age. One of my fellow mature students was in her 40s when she realised her life was meandering into oblivion, so she quit her job as a secretary, left her husband, and started a degree in chemical engineering.

I'm currently at uni in my early 30s, although had previously been during my 20s. The experience is different, myself or other mature students are not going out to get smashed with 18 year olds all the time. Then again, we don't want to. I tend to find mature students are more study focused and prefer a more sedate approach to university life. I've never considered my age to be an issue with the younger students and get on with them well, although have not formed any serious friendships with them. There is a semi-active mature student society at my university (something you may want to look into). We socialise either during the day or sometimes drinks at night, although we tend to go home at 10 pm, as it is after our bedtime.

I had lots of reservations before I started my course, but, as I enter my final year, I realise I made the correct decision. I get the impression that this view is shared by those mature students who have got this far into their degree.
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BigGeezyWee
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Thanks for your replies Quantex and SalemsparklyQuantex "The experience is different, myself or other mature students are not going out to get smashed with 18 year olds all the time. Then again, we don't want to. I tend to find mature students are more study focused and prefer a more sedate approach to university life." - I was concerned that when I was using the word 'fun' this is what people would have thought I was referring too lol. I don't aim to go out on the rip with a bunch of 18 year olds either. A pint in the pub and maybe a night in with a few beers. I'm not even really a drinker, more a social pint sipper

When I look at Univeristy/Student cities im also looking into things like the sports/urban sports culture (im really into my training) and sports clubs within the Uni itself. I also love the Arts so Art Culture (festivals of all sorts, museums, architecture etc) also catches me eye and I am passionate about the subject I wish to study. I desire a social life but its not at the top of the list. I recently completed a foundation degree (one year/year zero) in Art and Design and got top marks (Distinction) I was 26 turned 27 during that time. I found my course was full of 18-22 then it jumped right up to mid 30's to even in their 50's.

I got along with most people and really enjoyed my time doing Art but alot of time was spent feeling a bit 'inbetween'. The school leavers felt like a world apart from me as did the older people, if that makes sense. Actually thats my point in one sentence.

'meandering into oblivion' is a good way to describe my own feelings sometimes!

I am a very ambitious person, sometimes to my disadvantage. So many ideas, prospects and things I wish to achieve and do that I'm caught between them all or exhausted doing them all. I am between travelling and Uni at the moment. Maybe waiting until next year isn't a bad thing as I can travel within that year

Thanks again
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Holamigo
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Definitely not too old! You should go for it. I'm 25 and hope to either go this year or next, I've already been to Uni to do my Nursing which I started when I was 20/21, and I actually felt out of place as I was too young - the majority were older on my nursing course - average around 30s.
Its definitely more common now to see a variety of ages, University isn't just for the young 18-21 anymore.
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jimmy_looks_2ice
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Rather than keep saying "like you, I did this/don't like that...etc." I'll just give you an overview of my experience and you can draw your own parallels and take from it what you wish.

I bailed out of education fairly early, having just scraped a B (English) and a D (Law) at A-Level. I tried various jobs/careers in my early 20s, and then settled (for a while, at least) for a career in IT. I wasn’t interested in uni until fairly recently. I was actually very anti uni for a long time, largely, I suppose, as a result of my sister’s experience. It appeared to me like she and her friends spent most of their time boozing in the various hostelries in the city and studying seemed to be almost like an afterthought. I couldn’t believe that this way of life was willingly sanctioned and funded by parents and the taxpayers! I worked hard at other, non-academic things, which were much less mainstream and didn’t get that kind of recognition. Ultimately my ventures didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped, but they did at least teach me how to be self-reliant and determined, qualities which have proved useful throughout my working life and even more so now I’ve gone back to education as a mature student. FWIW, although my sister got her degree (studying for it aged 19-23) and had a great social life at the same time, I’m not sure she developed those same traits during her uni experience.

Over the last decade or so in IT, I was earning decent money and I managed to boost my income significantly by jumping into the private sector during the last two years of my tech career. Job satisfaction, however, was inconsistent. Tbh, I think I really decided in the first year that I didn’t want to do IT for the rest of my life, but it took me many more years to really fully commit to trying to forge an alternative career. The breaking point came last year – having been through a lengthy, exhaustive, and intrusive application process to get into a particular niche within the IT sector, with various aspects of my life being put on hold until the job came through, I found that the role that I got placed in after all that waiting was not at all what I expected (and had been led to believe it was). I don’t know if this is true of other lines of work, but IT work (I was a software developer, specifically) can (in some cases) have this weird paradox at its heart: it can be intensely boring and unfulfilling, yet highly stressful and demanding at the same time. This feeling defined the first half of 2014 for me. I was stressed, depressed, miserable, and didn’t know what I could do about it.

I was able to bring the unhappy episode of early 2014 to a close when I decided to cast aside my hitherto sceptical attitude towards uni and go for it myself. I’ll spare you all the ins and outs of the process of coming to that decision, other than to say that I discovered doing an Access to HE course would dramatically improve my prospects of getting offers from unis. So, in July, I quit my job and a week later went for an interview for the Access course. (My circumstances were so convoluted I actually had to quit my job to even be able to attend the interview! Thankfully, the interview process was a formality so I was readily accepted onto the course, and in any case I would’ve had to have quit the job to actually do the course, so it wasn’t quite as risky a manoeuvre as it sounds. (Although quitting a good job to go to uni has a certain amount of inherent risk.)) So, from Sep 2014 to June 2015, I did an Access course on a full-time basis. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I loved every minute of it, but certainly I enjoyed it most of the time and I thrived on it and, as yet, I haven’t regretted my decision one iota.

I haven’t started at uni yet, so I’m only giving you a pre-uni perspective. I’m going to be older than most (twice the age of a lot of the students, I’d imagine) and while I admit that I’ve still got a little bit of anxiety about that, I’m not going to let it stop me from making the most of the experience. How the social side will pan out, I don’t know yet, but certainly I’m aiming to stretch my academic capabilities there. As for subjects and long-term plans, I’m taking more of a gamble than a lot of mature students. The majority of the students on my Access course were choosing a much more vocational route than I was – pursuing degrees & careers in areas like Nursing, Paramedic Science, Midwifery, Social Work, and Psychology. I’m doing Film + English & American Literature. I have a mix of motivations for doing it:
  1. I want to get a degree (and possibly continue to postgrad study) for the pure achievement of it.
  2. I want to have a “university experience”, albeit a more mature strain of it; for me, that means going into a place of like-minded people to study something I enjoy each day with all the resources of a respected institution there to support me.
  3. My first choice of new career is something media/film/TV related, so my degree does actually have something of a vocation nature to it (AFAIC!)
  4. My degree is still very much an academic one, so it does still open up other options if the above doesn’t work out or I change my mind.
Ok, so that’s my experience. I think you’ve had some good info on here about the pros of being a mature student. It sounds to me like you’d really enjoy and benefit from the intellectual stimulation of uni, so as long as you’re prepared to work at it and you can afford it, I’d say go for it.

Philosophy degrees

“Scott, things aren't as happy as they used to be down here at the Unemployment Office. Joblessness is no longer just for philosophy majors…” (Kent Brockman, The Simpsons)

As long as you’re aware that you can’t just walk into a well-paid and secure career path with it as easily as someone studying STEM subjects, I think you should study it, if that’s what you really want to study. One of my friends studied it at the standard age (she graduated over 10 years ago) and I think she got a lot out of it. She didn’t really know what she wanted to do at first and drifted in and out of a few jobs for a while, before getting a Civil Service job. She got promoted a few times and was on a salary over £35k, I think, before she and her husband decided to quit their jobs and start their own business (which is now pretty successful). I don’t think one can say that doing a philosophy degree will necessarily to lead to an outcome like that, but it does show that it can enhance the qualities of the right sort of person, and despite what Kent Brockman says, it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a life of joblessness!

(I don't know if this is the longest post ever on TSR, but it's certainly my longest! Hope it's of some use to you, OP.)
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BigGeezyWee
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Thank you Jimmy, for sharing and your time. There is alot of parallels as you say and yes philosophy is stigmatised as one of those 'useless' degrees and I am aware and prepared for the backlash of it possibly never effecting/enhancing my employability but in the past when I considered other options I had different aspirations and interests than I do now and a different approach to Uni. Its not about enhancing career prospects primarily but rather an experience I often wonder about and wish to experience and as you rightly said a chance to study everyday a subject I am passionate about and to be stimulated in a new environment surrounded by like minded people and I believe that is reason enough. Many people pursue passions based on just that, its a passion. They may never get any form of award or achievement such as a degree at the end of it but the drive comes from the self-actualization of what they are doing and that often seems to be enough for them and I would include myself in saying that and like you the achievement of a degree in general is appealing even if I too was once anti-Uni

It seems like your going into your first year a year ahead of me, by all means if you wish keep me posted on your experience, Jimmy

Thanks everyone
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carlaraptor
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(Original post by jimmy_looks_2ice)
I haven’t started at uni yet, so I’m only giving you a pre-uni perspective. I’m going to be older than most (twice the age of a lot of the students, I’d imagine) and while I admit that I’ve still got a little bit of anxiety about that, I’m not going to let it stop me from making the most of the experience. How the social side will pan out, I don’t know yet, but certainly I’m aiming to stretch my academic capabilities there. As for subjects and long-term plans, I’m taking more of a gamble than a lot of mature students. The majority of the students on my Access course were choosing a much more vocational route than I was – pursuing degrees & careers in areas like Nursing, Paramedic Science, Midwifery, Social Work, and Psychology. I’m doing Film + English & American Literature. I have a mix of motivations for doing it:
  1. I want to get a degree (and possibly continue to postgrad study) for the pure achievement of it.
  2. I want to have a “university experience”, albeit a more mature strain of it; for me, that means going into a place of like-minded people to study something I enjoy each day with all the resources of a respected institution there to support me.
  3. My first choice of new career is something media/film/TV related, so my degree does actually have something of a vocation nature to it (AFAIC!)
  4. My degree is still very much an academic one, so it does still open up other options if the above doesn’t work out or I change my mind.
Ok, so that’s my experience. I think you’ve had some good info on here about the pros of being a mature student. It sounds to me like you’d really enjoy and benefit from the intellectual stimulation of uni, so as long as you’re prepared to work at it and you can afford it, I’d say go for it.
Hi Jimmy,

Just wanted to say I'm in a similar (ish) boat to you. Whilst I'm only 25, I feel I've had a lot of life experience in that time and it's certainly a risk going from a full time job to being a student. I'm going to be studying a very similar degree - American Studies & English. I'm also doing it for similar reasons to you - mostly out of passion for the subject, but also because it will lead me into other specialisations. I may well go into journalism, though I've also considered doing a PGCE. I adore being in education and particularly appreciate it now, as I had such a rough time during school and my teenage years in general.

I have no doubt that you'll do well at university.

(OP - Sorry for hijacking your thread - to put it very shortly, yes it is completely worth it!)
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jimmy_looks_2ice
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(Original post by carlaraptor)
Hi Jimmy,

Just wanted to say I'm in a similar (ish) boat to you. Whilst I'm only 25, I feel I've had a lot of life experience in that time and it's certainly a risk going from a full time job to being a student. I'm going to be studying a very similar degree - American Studies & English. I'm also doing it for similar reasons to you - mostly out of passion for the subject, but also because it will lead me into other specialisations. I may well go into journalism, though I've also considered doing a PGCE. I adore being in education and particularly appreciate it now, as I had such a rough time during school and my teenage years in general.

I have no doubt that you'll do well at university.
Hi! Thanks for your reply. I'm sure you'll also do very well at uni. It seems, a bit like me, that it would have been a disastrous experience for you had you gone as a teenager, but you're ready for it now. I think our cases are good illustrations of the merits of being a mature student. I hated school/college as a teenager, but I'm now loving being in education and I'm also considering working in the system in some way in future.

You raised a couple of key points. I think on threads like this we have to acknowledge the risks and costs of HE to give the OP a fair reflection of reality. Going to uni is costly and it's time that could be spent earning income rather than incurring debt. However, thinking more broadly, you can argue that everything is a risk. Choosing the 'safe' option and sticking with a job that you don't like but which pays well is also a risk - you're risking not pursuing something that might suit you better. It depends what you value most, I suppose. I don't - and won't - measure my life by my income levels.

The second point leads on from that. I think it's a much better idea to study something you're really passionate about. I studied IT topics (not at degree level) when I was in my 20s because I felt like I needed to get a steady job asap and it seemed like that was a fairly safe bet. (I briefly outlined the consequences of that decision in my first post on this thread.) I was almost blindly stumbling into repeating that mistake last year, because at that time I was thinking of studying and going into Law - I thought it was a 'respectable' choice. Thankfully, my Access tutor forced me to evaluate my thinking, and a couple of months later I came to my senses and started looking at other subjects! (I'm fairly sure I would've regretted choosing Law, even if not at uni then by the time I started working in the profession.)
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Craigibus88
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Hi everyone, this was great to read peoples thoughts and comments.I turn 30 next year, it's not my age that bothers me, it's weather I pass and get a degree after three years (and is it worth it etc)I'm at a stage in my life where I cannot stand meaningless bar work jobs, working all evenings and weekends, not being able to see family and friends and gaining nothing from it. I know I get paid for it but the job is going no where promotion and training wise.I want to run my own business bar/resturant/maybe hotel.I have been waiting m for my company to let me do a government funded NVQ. In bar and hospitality. Well I've waited five years, it's clearly not happening so thinking about uni. Im in a similar boat as biggeezywee, have always been quite vocational, I studied performing arts at college. A very practical performance assessed course. I found this great to do as I enjoyed performing and im dyspraxic and tend to get distracted (oh look a butterfly!!......)Any whoop, I still love performing but don't think a degree in this field would land me a good enough job to afford a mortgage alone. i Have seen alot of friends do performance and media degrees and now just work in retail (shops) for years to come at minimum wage. I would like to gain a sense of freedom and independence as I still living with parents (I know, I'm nearly 30 but I can't afford to by a house alone) so... Have been thinking of going to uni for a while now, to study business management, or perhaps marketingAny recommendations/suggestions on what courses and where? ThanksCraig.
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Ipsck
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Hi everyone,
I don't think it's a problem or an issue attending the university at early 30's or even older. I knew a lot of people who went to study for a caeer change or out of pure interest. No harm done. But most of them had already studied at the vocational college or college and been working for years. They know what they want, and went for it.

I'd say, go for it! You've got nothing to lose - only to win! It's a great experience. I can confirm that mature students are more focused to their approach in studying compared to the younger ones

When you're older, you also know what you like and don't like, what you want to do and not. You know your strengths and weaknesses. You know how to play your cards better Best of luck to your studies!
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Hieff
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Hi!ive read your enlightening comment and feel much more positive since.im 34 and chose a different path to life,especially my academic ambitions.however I’m now ready to start again and “crack” on shall we say.may I ask had your studying put you in financial dismay??yours gratefully craig
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hallamstudents
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(Original post by BigGeezyWee)
I'm 27, very unlikely be able to attend Uni this September so would have to wait until 2016, by then I'll be 28.

I've never been greatly determined or even interested in Uni. I always thought safely it was never for me. I've done many things in my life that where more vocational and have had a mixed life of on/off education and a vast work life

But, around August 2014 I started to consider ideas for Uni beyond simply just the studying - the travelling, the living in another part of the world, meeting new people, a change in life and a change in the dynamics of my current life, the consistency (because it lasts for three years) and now a new subject I believe I will really enjoy and love. Before then I had different interests in what I would study at Uni if I were to go. So waiting all this time isn't a bad thing as I may have just ended up going to Uni to study a subject ultimately doesn't mean that much to me or that I could do much with and never leaving my home city and not experiencing some of the above and more! (because now some of those points i made are extremely important, as important if not more important than the studying and Uni itself!)

I'm considering greatly going to University somewhere in England or Scotland (my mind jumps to places like Liverpool and Manchester straight away. I am from Northern Ireland fyi) and I am thinking of studying philosophy. I know philosophy isn't exactly the most vocational set-up for super financial success but its a subject I absolutely love

So all that said I would be going to Uni for the experience. Not so much the academic achievement to then go on into a specific employment relevant to my degree (don't misread as 'a way to avoid employment and kill three years', its not at all. I am a very ambitious person and know I will land on my feet regardless what I choose to do after the degree and already have vocational prospects lined up in relation to the degree)

So I'm wondering, as a 28 year old man would Uni still be worth while being in my late 20's and graduating at 31. I'm wondering at this age has my ship sailed for Uni already? Will Uni still be fun, or will I be an old man amongst kids (or made to feel so), will I still have 'the Uni experience' and the like. I know these are things people can not answer and predict for me, no one can predict but they are questions more to evoke responses based on how I feel (and im sure many other mature students feel similar) and I appreciate your opinions!

I like campus life, from my own little bit of experience and from my Uni friends experiences, I like the idea of living in student like accommodation (im not referring to the likes of dorms and on site rooms, but wouldn't say no for my first year being a new country so opinions on that would be appreciated. Do they even have dorms for mature students?) and living with like minded people and meeting like minded people.

After years of deciding not to go to Uni (and it was sincerely and genuinely my wish, so no regrets there) I'm wondering has the shipped sailed and would it be 'silly' to go and do a 'young persons' thing. 28 is nothing like 38 or 48, I don't wish to attend Uni feeling like an old person or it just makes me feel like im in the wrong place, amongst the wrong people etc

I hope im making sense and people can relate and share their own experience if you are yourself a mature student past or present and what age you where or even what it was like being a younger student with older students in your class or even as a house mate!

I appreciate your time and effort, this could potentially help me choose what and where I go in life in the near future!


So, opinions on:

- Cities to live in (im very interested to hear whats a fun, interesting city to live in)
- Has anyone else done a Philosophy degree? Was it worth it? Did you enjoy it? Where did you study? Any recommendations or warnings#

- Has anyone else went to Uni for the first time at this age (28 and older) How did you find it? Was it fun? Did you feel like you still obtained the Uni/student life you think you may have missed out on when you were younger?

- Was it worth it? Was it something you were happy you eventually done, older or not?

Thanks for your time everyone

Hi there

This sounds fantastic and to be completely honest you are on the right track about the worth of uni not actually being the studying but the actual life experiences, things you do and the difference you make as well as the opportunities of travelling and societies and just developing yourself in many more ways than just academically. This is definitely where the value of the degree comes from, especially at its extortionate price now, its simply not enough to just get a degree out if it, as soo many people have one now, it is about what else you learn and get involved with whilst you are there.

I would not worry at all about the fact you will be 28, my 3 best friends at uni are mature students, and when they started one was 23, the other 28 and the last 38! And they are doing just as good if not better than a lot of people on the course as they know what they want and have a better drive than the younger students, It is a lot more common than you think being a mature student at uni, every second or third person is a mature student that I know.

If you throw yourself into things and just try new things, you will be welcomed with open arms by other students. Age nowadays really isn't that significant and it is really not held against you. What you put in you will definitely get out.

In terms of halls I am sure they do accept mature students and they do consider allocating you with people similar ages, especially if you are a mature student.

Sheffield, Newcastle, Leeds I would say are all great places for uni! Student cities lots of things to do and very multicultural and arty.

Hope that helps!

Chandni
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s817
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If you want to go uni for whatever reason then go for it. Your age won't matter as there are many mature students at uni. I am a mature student in my mid twenties, before starting uni I thought I'd be the oldest on my course but I'm not, there are people older than me in their later twenties and early thirties and I've seen much older people 40+ around the uni. As for accommodation, I don't think there is an age limit but I wouldn't know much about it when I live at home and commute to uni every day.
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NorElias
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Hi!

Have you looked into scandinavia? We have a lot higher average age in unis here. 28 would barely be called mature. If you are in it for the experience and not the academics it may be easier to get that experience with a more diverse age group. Also its free, since this is not about making a career you might want to think about that UK is a very pricy way to get an experience (that you could easily get on language schools abroad)))

I started at 25, I was mostly into it for the degree, so i cant really comment too much on the experience part as i have been doing a lot of other stuff not related to uni on the side.
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Crai G
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I worked in a bar for 6 years. All the way up to deputy general manage. I just left, turned 30 and started uni. Do it my friend!!
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s817
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I just realised this thread was posted 3 years ago, did you go to uni?
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Lloyd947
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25 with a partner and child. Lost my job due to corona virus so applied for uni! I left school stupidly early, had bad grades and bounced job to job. Now settled with a child I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to return to what I should of done when I was younger. I can’t wait!
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No, I think predicted grades should still be used to make offers (616)
33.79%
Yes, I like the idea of applying to uni after I received my grades (PQA) (766)
42.02%
Yes, I like the idea of receiving offers only after I receive my grades (PQO) (361)
19.8%
I think there is a better option than the ones suggested (let us know in the thread!) (80)
4.39%

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