The Student Room Group

Is it too late to start Uni at 21?

I'm 20 and in my first year of uni (took a gap year when i was in Year 12 for other reasons). I'm halfway through the year and I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to fail the year and would take a miracle for me to pass at this point.

I want to take another gap year and get myself sorted mentally and financially and try again the year after. But as I'm already a year behind my peers academically, my parents are on my case heavy and taking another gap year would make the whole situation worse. I'd be starting first year when my peers would've graduated by then.

Which means I'd be 21 starting uni and graduating at 24. I feel like at that point it's too late. Especially since I'm studying Computer Science, which is very competitive.

What should I do?
Hey there 😀

I empathise with the challenges you are facing. We all navigate different journeys with unique obstacles. I want to emphasise that age should never deter you from pursuing your aspirations, including attending university as a 21-year-old student. It is never too late to embark on this path. I have encountered numerous mature students here at DMU, and their perseverance and determination to pursue their goals despite any hurdles are truly inspiring.

Recruiters prioritise your qualities and capabilities, not your age. I strongly believe that a 2-3 year age difference is negligible and unlikely to impact your success. As an example, I am taking a sort of gap year due to my current student exchange programme. While my peers are working towards their dissertations, I will be joining a new cohort of students a year younger when I return. However, I do not foresee this affecting my journey in any significant manner. I had a dream of participating in a student exchange, and that is the path I am following. Similarly, you have your own story, and it is essential not to let it discourage you from achieving your goals.

I hope it was helpful 💪 Feel free to reach out if you have any questions 😉 You can also chat with me or other students directly through The Ambassador Platform.

Best of luck,

Julia
Psychology student
De Montfort University
I usually point people toward this "Am I too old?" thread when this questions comes up.

The short answer is no, of course not. Just because some of your peers may finish an undergrad course earlier doesn't mean that they are 'ahead'. Neither does it make your position disastrous. Lot's of people have false starts either with uni or jobs and you don't know where anyone is going to end up.

The only thing I would add is that COMPSCI doesn't have the best grad outcomes, so it may be better looking at more specialised courses, especially with a placement year.
Hey 👋

It's definitely never too late! I know at Bradford there's a big mature learner community, from people starting after taking a gap year to figure out their choices, to returning to education after having families or just wanting a change in career direction and coming back to University. It's such a supportive community too, everyone helps each other and there's also lots of support available from the university itself. So you may find there are others in the same position as you 🙂

From reading your message I'd say make the right decision for you, as difficult as it seems with lots of factors in the mix. If taking a year out to reset and regroup will help you, I wouldn't let any worries hold you back as it definitely isn't too late at any age :smile:

Good luck with everything!

Jennie
Original post by hal33m
I'm 20 and in my first year of uni (took a gap year when i was in Year 12 for other reasons). I'm halfway through the year and I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to fail the year and would take a miracle for me to pass at this point.

I want to take another gap year and get myself sorted mentally and financially and try again the year after. But as I'm already a year behind my peers academically, my parents are on my case heavy and taking another gap year would make the whole situation worse. I'd be starting first year when my peers would've graduated by then.

Which means I'd be 21 starting uni and graduating at 24. I feel like at that point it's too late. Especially since I'm studying Computer Science, which is very competitive.

What should I do?
Hello,

Sorry to hear about the issues you are facing at the moment, university can be difficult and it is not unusual to face challenges along the way! Please remember to speak to your peers and university mentors for support during this time. I myself left my previous university at Christmas time a few years back and took a year out to decide on what was best for myself and this was the best decision as I had time to care for myself and think about what I truly wanted to do next. I was very self conscious so taking a year out as I worried about what people would think, but it is important to focus on yourself and do what will make YOU happy! Though you will be conscious of your peers and parent's opinions, you have to remember that it is your decision to make.

Being 21 starting university is a totally normal age! I have met so many people who started at this age or older, who came to university feeling happier and more confident in themselves as they took time out to work on themselves and make an infirmed decision on what they want to do. Do not worry! There is no such thing as being 'too late' to graduate University, a degree is a degree regardless of what age you achieved it 🙂

Take time for yourself, look after your mind and remember to speak to your university support service who can help you with your next steps. Good luck 🙂

Ria
Official LJMU Student Rep
(edited 1 month ago)
Hi!
I'm sorry to hear that you've had a hard time! It's absolutely never too late to turn things around, whether that be this year for yourself or taking another gap year and using it very intentionally. It sounds like having a target + time would be good for you, so you have something to focus on and a timed goal.
It's never too late! And keep in mind that some courses can be 3, 4 or even 5 years, so even students that started at 18 may still graduate at the same time as you would. I personally took a gap year then graduated at 22, and I have a close friend that's just started this year at 22. It's good to keep in mind that your age isn't stamped on your forehead at uni- and you have lots of time to do what you want in life!
Hi!

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had tough time recently. Have you spoken to the wellbeing team at your university for support. I had a challenging time in my 2nd year, and I found that speaking to the wellbeing team was useful to get a different perspective and also just get everything of my chest, which I didn’t feel comfortable sharing with my friends at the time.

I turned 20 in the second semester of 1st year, so I was slightly older than everyone on my course but I also have friends at uni who are are in their mid and late twenties as well. A lot of people have gap years or even careers before going to university, so there’s never really an age that is “too old” for university. Everyone is on different paths and that’s okay! Do what you feel is best for you and your health. If you feel that you need a break then that’s okay. You can go to university at any age. Looking after yourself should always be the number 1 priority.

Suzan - Student Ambassador
Hi @hal33m ,

Sorry to hear that you have been having some problems this year. As for starting uni later than others, I really don't think this makes a difference at all! I started uni when I was 20 and didn't find any problems with it and I didn't feel as though I was too old.

Lots of people are different ages at uni and in my course people ranged from 18 to about 23 in first year and it didn't make a difference! I would say that ultimately if you feel you would perform better if you retook the year then this is what is important, not your age.

I would also suggest to talk to your tutors and uni support services to help you with this decision as they may have some advice to offer you or may be able to help you.

Hope this helps,
Lucy - SHU student ambassador
Reply 8
I really further what everyone else is saying above! I am starting uni in September and I’ll be nearly 22 by then. I am so excited about it because I feel at this stage I am ready for all that uni entails, whereas I was not in the right place for it when all my peers went (straight after college). I spent a year living and working abroad and then have been working in the NHS for 1.5 years - I really feel that this was the best outcome for me as I’ve gained life experience and gotten to know myself well/grown in confidence before starting uni, and it gave me time to decide what I truly want to do rather than feeling rushed into a decision. Also, in the grand scheme of things 21 is still so young and definitely not too late to begin your journey at university. Most unis have quite a lot of other mature students too so you will not be alone and your other experiences from gap year etc will benefit you. Best of luck to you!!
Original post by hal33m
I'm 20 and in my first year of uni (took a gap year when i was in Year 12 for other reasons). I'm halfway through the year and I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to fail the year and would take a miracle for me to pass at this point.

I want to take another gap year and get myself sorted mentally and financially and try again the year after. But as I'm already a year behind my peers academically, my parents are on my case heavy and taking another gap year would make the whole situation worse. I'd be starting first year when my peers would've graduated by then.

Which means I'd be 21 starting uni and graduating at 24. I feel like at that point it's too late. Especially since I'm studying Computer Science, which is very competitive.

What should I do?
It won't be too late. I'm 28 and have applied at 2 different universities for foundation years, after doing an Access to HE course for the last 18 months. I will be 29 by the time I start and 30 when I start the first year of my actual degree. I didn't figure out what I wanted to do until I was 25/26.

It might not feel like it, but you have time, it's never too late. Take the time that you need to figure out what you want to do, learn about yourself, experience new things and try different work. There is no time limit, live your life on your own timeline, you don't have to try to 'keep up' with anyone else.

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