Advice about fitting in as mature student

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161BMW
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Hi just a thread to ask about how other mature students are finding fitting in at university ?

I am by far the oldest on my course at the age of 38. First year was completely online pretty much so we had not met in person. A lot of people know my voice because I asked a few questions in lectures. First year was very tough. However we had not met in person.

I have got to know a few people from first year a little. It is a bit isolating first year being completely online. I have been mistaken for staff by security when I asked them about parking. Lol. It is a bit nerve wracking and I was anxious meeting people as I cannot hide my age visibly. I have been asked my age a few times.

If I see a good opportunity to say hello to someone in my course I will. If everyone is in their groups and I don’t know them or I know of one or two people from old tutorial group but not said hello to me I don’t say go into the group as I don’t know how it will be received if I just rock up and start saying hello to people already in a conversation.

Everyone is very smart on my course and very ambitious.

It is a little isolating as sometimes you can sometimes notice little looks or smirks about you and you just ignore it. Also being ignored by some people in your old personal tutorial group for some reason. No idea why as there hasn’t been any disagreement. I wouldn’t say I have much in common with them. Tried to establish friendship on a social thing and invite one who live locally for a drink but for whatever reason it didn’t happen over the summer.

The course itself is very tough and everyone is pretty smart and hard working.

I have gotten to know a few people so far maybe 4 from first year and a bit better in person.

Just wondering how other mature students are finding it and about fitting in ?

Thank you.
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University of Portsmouth Student Rep
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(Original post by 161BMW)
Hi just a thread to ask about how other mature students are finding fitting in at university ?

I am by far the oldest on my course at the age of 38. First year was completely online pretty much so we had not met in person. A lot of people know my voice because I asked a few questions in lectures. First year was very tough. However we had not met in person.

I have got to know a few people from first year a little. It is a bit isolating first year being completely online. I have been mistaken for staff by security when I asked them about parking. Lol. It is a bit nerve wracking and I was anxious meeting people as I cannot hide my age visibly. I have been asked my age a few times.

If I see a good opportunity to say hello to someone in my course I will. If everyone is in their groups and I don’t know them or I know of one or two people from old tutorial group but not said hello to me I don’t say go into the group as I don’t know how it will be received if I just rock up and start saying hello to people already in a conversation.

Everyone is very smart on my course and very ambitious.

It is a little isolating as sometimes you can sometimes notice little looks or smirks about you and you just ignore it. Also being ignored by some people in your old personal tutorial group for some reason. No idea why as there hasn’t been any disagreement. I wouldn’t say I have much in common with them. Tried to establish friendship on a social thing and invite one who live locally for a drink but for whatever reason it didn’t happen over the summer.

The course itself is very tough and everyone is pretty smart and hard working.

I have gotten to know a few people so far maybe 4 from first year and a bit better in person.

Just wondering how other mature students are finding it and about fitting in ?

Thank you.
Hey there,

I'm sorry to hear that you're finding it hard to settle in - it's not uncommon for any student, mature students included, to feel a bit isolated when they first go to university and this year is more evident of that than any. Coming out of a long period of little social contact and being thrust into university is a challenge.

In my experience, mature students don't tend to "stick out" from everyone else as much as you would think. Many mature students tend to join in with any social events, trips to the pub as well as societies the same as any other student would. If you haven't already, see if there is a society that interests you - there tends to be a society for most things (and at alot of universities, a dedicated Mature Students society). It's a great way to meet new people to chat to, study with, or just go out and socialise with.

In terms of joining "groups" where people are already in conversation, people at university tend to be fairly welcoming - at the end of the day, they also want to make friends and chat. I'm sure that if you were to walk up and join in when people are chatting they'd be more than happy to have you. I can't count the amount of times I've recognised someone in a group, gone to chat to them, met everyone else they were talking to and ended up going to study / chat after. University tends to be different from previous education, where there very much is those "groups" that people stick to, people tend to be much friendlier and welcoming

Hope this helps - I'm sure you'll be fine!
Take care,
~ Mikael, UoP Student Rep
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Gordon_D
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I was 28 when I started my degree and felt like the odd one out for a while. While this was back in 2012, I can't begin to imagine how it would be after a year of studying online-only, but what I will say, is that a lot of those anxieties will be felt by many others in the cohort, regardless of age.

You've only just gone into your second year, I assume? If that's the case then definitely give it time - it's amazing how many connections you'll make when you least expect to, like on the way into a lecture etc.

Remember also that a lot of the other students might also feel awkward about reaching out and starting a conversation with you - they could well be worried that you'll see them as kids, and that you wouldn't want to speak to them purely because of that age gap. Be patient and you'll build a network, I'm sure

As was said above though, check out some of the societies - these are great places to meet other students and think of the value you can add to some of the discussion too, with a little more experience on your side, and a slightly different view on things.

Out of interest, what is it you're studying?
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161BMW
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(Original post by Gordon_D)
I was 28 when I started my degree and felt like the odd one out for a while. While this was back in 2012, I can't begin to imagine how it would be after a year of studying online-only, but what I will say, is that a lot of those anxieties will be felt by many others in the cohort, regardless of age.

You've only just gone into your second year, I assume? If that's the case then definitely give it time - it's amazing how many connections you'll make when you least expect to, like on the way into a lecture etc.

Remember also that a lot of the other students might also feel awkward about reaching out and starting a conversation with you - they could well be worried that you'll see them as kids, and that you wouldn't want to speak to them purely because of that age gap. Be patient and you'll build a network, I'm sure

As was said above though, check out some of the societies - these are great places to meet other students and think of the value you can add to some of the discussion too, with a little more experience on your side, and a slightly different view on things.

Out of interest, what is it you're studying?
Thanks.

Mechanical Engineering.
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ladyasprin
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I'm in my third year, our 1st year was almost normal - we just missed our placement (I'm studying OT), but I am doing my second 'first' degree and my first degree was in electronic and computer engineering and I stood out as I was the only girl in my year (unsure of other years but I suspect there weren't many).
I would advise saying hi to people even if they are in a conversation as they may invite you to join or want your opinion on what they are discussing. Maybe you need to see if you could arrange a social for your cohort as that would allow the class to get to know each other in person.

If it's just looking for friends rather than class friends then, I found the way to make friends was to be myself (I was in my full goth phase and I would wear drippy sleeved tops and skirts to class) and do join societies which were what I was interested in as it didn't matter if we were doing the same degree or not if we had a common interest.
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Eus997
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Hello!
The definition of a 'mature' student is anyone who is over the age of 21 attending university for the first time. It's a redundant, polarising label that fails to take into account the various strengths of an interlude between school and university. A lot of 'mature' students actually have an edge on your 'typical' undergrad from lived experience. I'm sorry to hear that you don't feel like you're fitting in but that might not be the end of the world. The fallacy that University is the 'best days of our lives,' is a narrative that a lot of universities push to generate interest and encourage enrolment. If I were you, I'd treat it like work. Go in, do the work and then go home. Remember why you came to university in the first place and let that push you to succeed. Stay authentic to yourself and don't worry about other peoples' opinions too much. If they weren't privileged enough to have parents to support them at this point in their lives, they probably would be in a similar position.
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ladyasprin
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(Original post by Eus997)
Hello!
The definition of a 'mature' student is anyone who is over the age of 21 attending university for the first time.
I would put it as a first degree rather than first time.
As I am doing my second bachelors degree (big career change) and I am considered a mature student.
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Catherine1973
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I would say it’s unrealistic to think you’d become best friends with people on your course. I did undergraduate at 46, I am always camera on so it was clear I was older, and I never hid my background /past career. I would say I became friendly with most of my course, they knew they could WhatsApp me with questions about the courses or admin side. I went for coffees with people to discuss lectures and we linked on Facebook etc. But at my age I have my own friends who I socialise with already. A few of the undergrads I still meet for lunch etc, fellow mature students at 25.

So treat it like work. Try and attend socials for things you enjoy, maybe join sone post grad events. Or groups in the local town rather than university. I would hope everyone is friendly but I’d probably not expect to make great friends as such.
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PPK3000
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I started a Masters degree in the UK at the age of 36 (I am 40 now ) and it is a bit awkward feeling when you are clearly the older student of the course. However I think I didn't feel too isolated as my classmates were also "mature" students (about 28-30) and another guy of my same age, which I see it is not common in the UK even at graduate level. I often see people aged 25 or so already holding a PhD (or a postdoc!). In my case I also had the factor of the language barrier, being English not my first tongue I found myself struggling following some lectures, especially those with lecturers with a strong accent, and on occasions had to ask my classmates for some help. For sure you will find some mispelled words and grammar errors here haha. On top of that, my Masters (Engineering) covered subjects slightly different from my undergrad or what I had done during my work experience, which made my experience a bit more stressfull that it should be at the beginning.

I believe I was lucky having these classmates, I am still in touch with almost all of them and sometimes we meet for a meal or a drink.

I understand that now it could be more difficult given the current circumstances: pandemic and all the mess around, but I would suggest you to try joining them in conversations, forming study groups, going out for a drink, etc. In your case it would a bit more challenging given the fact that you are studying an undergraduate and your classmates could be much younger, but it is worth to have a go. As said in the other reply, joining a mature student society or group within the university (if any) could be a great idea as well.

I remember seeing students much older than me during the dissertation week at my university, and they were the friendliest persons at the place, so we are not alone in this journey. My mum started her undergrad aged 44, I strongly believe that it is never late to start university.

On the other hand, young students please stop asking your mature classmates for their age! At least wait until you know the person more and don't do this the first time you talk to them! :^_^:


P.S.: I just saw a post on Linkedin of someone who has just started a PhD at the University of Bristol at 60!
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161BMW
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(Original post by PPK3000)
I started a Masters degree in the UK at the age of 36 (I am 40 now ) and it is a bit awkward feeling when you are clearly the older student of the course. However I think I didn't feel too isolated as my classmates were also "mature" students (about 28-30) and another guy of my same age, which I see it is not common in the UK even at graduate level. I often see people aged 25 or so already holding a PhD (or a postdoc!). In my case I also had the factor of the language barrier, being English not my first tongue I found myself struggling following some lectures, especially those with lecturers with a strong accent, and on occasions had to ask my classmates for some help. For sure you will find some mispelled words and grammar errors here haha. On top of that, my Masters (Engineering) covered subjects slightly different from my undergrad or what I had done during my work experience, which made my experience a bit more stressfull that it should be at the beginning.

I believe I was lucky having these classmates, I am still in touch with almost all of them and sometimes we meet for a meal or a drink.

I understand that now it could be more difficult given the current circumstances: pandemic and all the mess around, but I would suggest you to try joining them in conversations, forming study groups, going out for a drink, etc. In your case it would a bit more challenging given the fact that you are studying an undergraduate and your classmates could be much younger, but it is worth to have a go. As said in the other reply, joining a mature student society or group within the university (if any) could be a great idea as well.

I remember seeing students much older than me during the dissertation week at my university, and they were the friendliest persons at the place, so we are not alone in this journey. My mum started her undergrad aged 44, I strongly believe that it is never late to start university.

On the other hand, young students please stop asking your mature classmates for their age! At least wait until you know the person more and don't do this the first time you talk to them! :^_^:


P.S.: I just saw a post on Linkedin of someone who has just started a PhD at the University of Bristol at 60!
Thanks.
There is no mature student society at this university.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by PPK3000)
P.S.: I just saw a post on Linkedin of someone who has just started a PhD at the University of Bristol at 60!
We had a student on TSR a few years ago who had graduated at the age of 70.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by 161BMW)
Thanks.
There is no mature student society at this university.
How are you finding it now?
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ladyasprin
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(Original post by 161BMW)
Thanks.
There is no mature student society at this university.
You could always see if you could set one up.
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161BMW
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(Original post by Reality Check)
How are you finding it now?
A lot of people are quiet friendly. Usually on my free periods I find myself doing work on my own.
Everyone works hard.
Seem to have forgotten a lot of first year.
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