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Will I be looked down upon as a mature student?

I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

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You will be fine.
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

I encourage you mathperson. Even I learn at some university.
Postgraduate students tend to be even more varied in age than undergraduate students, and the latter category already contains a large variety of ages. So no...also even undergraduate mature students are not "looked down upon".
Reply 4
Original post by artful_lounger
Postgraduate students tend to be even more varied in age than undergraduate students, and the latter category already contains a large variety of ages. So no...also even undergraduate mature students are not "looked down upon".

Very reassuring, thank you.
Reply 5
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

You will find a real mix and, if anything, being older can be an advantage.

Do pick your uni carefully and ensure they are able to give the right support.

The OU is good at that as it offers its materials in a number of formats even spoken units for blind/dyslexic students.
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

Hiya!

I would honestly try not to worry about being a mature student as we have plenty of students that vary in ages and most of the time you do not even realise what the differences is between the ages, I don’t we have someone in my class who is much older than in their 30’s and you wouldn’t know. Also I would say especially those studying Masters tend to be older and the ages vary much more in the class room. Everyone is welcomed to university and is encouraged to study and age should not be discriminated and universities will have a strict intolerance to any sort of this behaviour. If you are worried about meeting people similar to your age there is always societies / sports teams, at DMU we have mature student catch ups every month, mature student representatives and I am sure other universities should offer services similar to this. I understand why being older would be a concern but I would try not to worry, here are some links which I have found on this platform where others had the same concern and got advise. https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=5902170 https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=783660 Here is a link to our website full of advise and guidance also
https://www.demontfortsu.com/news/article/dsu/Meet-YourMature-Students-Representative/

As you also opened-up about your mental health, I would also just like to let you know that there are plenty of support services available for students in regards of mental health whether this is through meetings, financial help, academic wise, events and much more. I would recommend seeing what support services are available just to see how students are supported as we do care about the well-beings of our students and would want to help in any way.

Hope this helps,
Maddie, second year Health and well-being in society student at De Montfort University
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

Hey!

Absolutely not! You should definitely go for it!

I’m also a mature student (32) and I’m in my third year at ARU. I had similar worries before starting, which actually delayed my application by about 2 years! Since joining, I can’t believe I was so worried. My cohort has loads of different ages (18-40). During my time as a student I have also met students in their 50s!

You will not regret going for this if it’s really want you want to do but you might regret not going for it, if the only thing holding you back is age.

There’s no time frame on when we can study or make big life changes.

I really hope you decide to go for it! Good luck 🙂

Sophie (ARU)
Reply 8
Original post by ARUStudents
Hey!

Absolutely not! You should definitely go for it!

I’m also a mature student (32) and I’m in my third year at ARU. I had similar worries before starting, which actually delayed my application by about 2 years! Since joining, I can’t believe I was so worried. My cohort has loads of different ages (18-40). During my time as a student I have also met students in their 50s!

You will not regret going for this if it’s really want you want to do but you might regret not going for it, if the only thing holding you back is age.

There’s no time frame on when we can study or make big life changes.

I really hope you decide to go for it! Good luck 🙂

Sophie (ARU)

That's really encouraging, thank you :smile:
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

Hi,
There are many mature students at the University of Sheffield and the SU has a mature students officer.
As others have said, master and PhD programs are more varied with ages, so you may find you are not the only mature student on your course.
University of Sheffield have the DDSS which may be able to offer support throughout your degree, but each faculty also have a well being service that anyone can use, you just book an appointment and you can discuss anything that you are struggling with.
There is a society for mature students that you could join if you wanted a specific place to meet other mature students. Some societies are also open to non-students and so often have a variety of ages if that makes you feel any better about it.
In my experience, mature students have been accepted into social groups and included in seminar discussion or group projects like any other student would be.
So, if you want to do a PhD, don't let being a mature student stop you. 🙂

Lizzie (BSc Mathematics and Philosophy at University of Sheffield)
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

Hey there @mathperson !

First of all congratulations on going back to university. It can often take a lot of courage to do that after such a long time out and leaving for such serious reasons. Secondly, absolutely no one is going to think it's weird that you're a mature student. It's not like at school where every year group is the same age, university is for anyone who wants to get a degree. Especially a masters, there will be loads of people your age there because loads of people take a few years away before completing theirs. At the end of the day, you're there for you and no one else but even then I don't think anyone would really care.

You've got this, good luck!
Lucy - Digital Student Ambassador SHU
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

Hi there!

I'm sorry to read about your struggles but I think that being a mature student is more common than you may think! I'm sure that you will meet a few people your age but don't let it hold you back from doing what you want!

All the best,
Jaz - Cardiff student rep
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

Hi there

It is great to hear that you are returning to University. I would not worry about being a mature student at University. There will many students in a similar position.

University is a really diverse environment, and I know many mature students who really enjoy the experience.

I hope this helps.
Chloe
University of Kent Student Rep
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

Hey!

I study nursing at ARU and half of my class are mature students. We have a wide range of ages from 18-45. You are never too old to go out there and achieve your goals! There isn't an age limit on uni. I am one of the younger students and I love that there are mature students in the class too as they have so many things they have taught us. I say, if you wanna do it then do it! Do not let your age stop you! Go out there and live your dreams!

Wishing you the best of luck,
Jess - Digital Student Ambassador ARU
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

Hi @mathperson,

Great to hear that you are thinking of going back to university! 😊

I completely agree with what others have said that there no age limit or timeframe to learning. Here at the University of Central Lancashire, 40% of our mature students are over the age of 30. Nobody will think it's weird that you're a mature student as you'll likely find there are many others in a similar position. University is a great way to meet people from all different backgrounds and I'm sure you'll have no problem making friends.

All the best,
Sarah
Original post by mathperson
I was at The University of Sheffield studying maths many moons ago when I began experiencing depression.
I had to take time out of my studies and never returned to Sheffield.
It got pretty serious and I ended up being hospitalised and diagnosed bipolar.

Fast forward to today and I've been stable for a few years and I'm now completing my degree with the OU.
I'd love to do a masters and PhD at a brick uni and pick up where I left off...but I'm not 20 anymore...I'm 34.

Would it be weird to go to uni as a mature student?

Hello! So good to hear that you are wanting to come back! Masters and PHDs can be for anyone, never worry about your age, lots of people would be happy to have you there! I do fine art and we also have a mature student and everyone gets along with them!

You have got this, go and get that degree!

Hassa, Liverpool Hope University Student Ambassador.
Reply 16
Thank you all so much for the positive energy and encouragement not only of me, but anybody else who is viewing this thread (or may in the future) x
Reply 17
@artful_lounger
@Muttley79
@De Montfort University
@ARUStudents
@University of Sheffield Students
@hallamstudents
@CardiffUni Rep
@University of Kent
@UCLan Ambassador
@Liverpool Hope Student Ambassador


Many thanks for your replies, I really appreciate your encouragement.

I would very much like to return to a 'brick' university to undertake postgraduate study; masters and PhD. The thing that I feel quite nervous about is whether 'brick' universities would fully accommodate additional needs (e.g. adjustments to exam arrangements).

I do have experience of studying at a 'brick' university (The University of Sheffield) as well as the Open University, and from my experience, and the experience of others I have spoken with, 'brick' universities tend to give everybody the same standard adjustment regardless of need whereas the OU doesn't really have a 'standard', tending to look more holistically at each individual and providing any reasonable adjustments deemed necessary.

For example:
At Sheffield I received 25% extra time in exams, as did virtually everybody I met in the exam halls, regardless of circumstance or need.
However, the OU has given me 24 hours to complete and submit my exam plus my exams are all open book. There are reasons for this as discussed elsewhere on TSR, but not going into it here.

My reservation would be whether 'brick' universities would be prepared to accommodate me as much as the OU has?
(edited 2 months ago)
You would apply for DSA which would involve a Needs Assessment.

I would suggest having discussions with the support service of any uni you are interested in. The OU is pretty unique as it's online so adaptations are built in to the courses.
Original post by mathperson
@artful_lounger
@Muttley79
@De Montfort University
@ARUStudents
@University of Sheffield Students
@hallamstudents
@CardiffUni Rep
@University of Kent
@UCLan Ambassador
@Liverpool Hope Student Ambassador


Many thanks for your replies, I really appreciate your encouragement.

I would very much like to return to a 'brick' university to undertake postgraduate study; masters and PhD. The thing that I feel quite nervous about is whether 'brick' universities would fully accommodate additional needs (e.g. adjustments to exam arrangements).

I do have experience of studying at a 'brick' university (The University of Sheffield) as well as the Open University, and from my experience, and the experience of others I have spoken with, 'brick' universities tend to give everybody the same standard adjustment regardless of need whereas the OU doesn't really have a 'standard', tending to look more holistically at each individual and providing any reasonable adjustments deemed necessary.

For example:
At Sheffield I received 25% extra time in exams, as did virtually everybody I met in the exam halls, regardless of circumstance or need.
However, the OU has given me 24 hours to complete and submit my exam plus my exams are all open book. There are reasons for this as discussed elsewhere on TSR, but not going into it here.

My reservation would be whether 'brick' universities would be prepared to accommodate me as much as the OU has?

Hi,

The university of Sheffield has the DDSS service which you could contact to ask what support they will be able to put in place, most exam support comes through them whereas things that require funding are through DSA. 25% extra time is quite a common adjustment as universities often replicate what school has done and they are limited on the support they can provide.
I get extra time in my exams and do all of my exams in an exam hall with only those with extra time and/or rest breaks, so everyone I see in exams has extra time although I know it is only a couple of people on my course. I'm not trying to say this is definitely what happened when you were studying, I might have misunderstood your point.
I'm not sure if you applied for DSA when you last studied, but that will be what is able to fund a lot of the support you may access, for example, I get software that can read documents for me, filters that can change the colour of my laptop screen and the ability to record lectures and create a transcript. This is where the less standard support comes from as it requires more to receive.
You could always contact the universities that you are considering studying at and ask if they would be able to replicate the OU, or what they could do instead.

I hope this is helpful, let me know if you have any more questions or would like me to clarify anything,
Lizzie (BSc Mathematics and Philosophy - University of Sheffield)

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