The Student Room Group

Mature student - deferred place, unsure what to do next

Hey!

So I have a bit of a dilemma, and I wanted to get some outside advice because I'm completely unsure what to do next.

I'm currently holding a deferred place for CompSci at Southampton (with a foundation year), but I'm stuck weighing up whether it's the right route for me. I'd be going into it as a mature student (I'm 27) and would also be leaving my full-time job as a web developer.

I've also been looking into OU's Computing & IT (with Maths) degree as a part-time alternative, so I could keep the income and security whilst getting the degree, but at the same time I'm really worried I'm letting go of a good opportunity by withdrawing my place from Southampton as that would come along with the uni experience and in-person teaching.

I started this journey to go to university for a few reasons, but primarily I wanted to make a change in direction, grab my degree for the first time and embrace the social experience that comes with that. I love the idea of doing a CompSci degree as a way of personal/career development and with my work experience it could make for a strong CV for future job applications.

In terms of my current career, I currently work as a web developer for a family business. This was a godsend coming out of college as I didn't really know what to do after finishing my A-Levels, but I think I've reached the point where I feel like I'm held back by staying here. I'm not 100% enjoying it like I used to, there isn't much room for progression due to the size of the company. In terms of transferrable skills, I'm worried I'll struggle to find a new career especially without the degree.

A few reasons why I think I'm stuck making a decision:

* It took a bit of work to get to this point, I took on an Access diploma in Engineering and grabbed full distinctions, and retook GCSE Maths as quite a few degrees required a 6/B or above (and I hadn't studied Maths since 2013!).

* At the same time, it's obviously a lot to give up in terms of income and security. I definitely have a savings net behind me that could fund my time as a student, especially with student loans, but I know logically it's not a financially sound decision.

* On top of that, I'm worried that I'd be missing out by taking a distance learning course over an in-person degree. But at the same time I could be romanticizing the uni experience a bit too much?

* Whilst doing the Open Uni degree would technically make more sense, would I be putting myself at a disadvantage taking 'Computing & IT' over Southampton's Computer Science degree?

So yeah! Realise this is a unique (and rather fortunate) situation to be in, but I've never been so torn over a decision before. Most of all I don't want to withdraw and regret the decision and think "what if?" later down the line. If anyone has any thoughts/advice it'd be well appreciated :smile:
(edited 1 month ago)
Hi @haaarrison

First of all, Huge Congratulations on deciding to study as a mature student! It sounds like you’ve done some thorough research into your options so you are making an informed decision.

As a fellow mature student, I know what a brave and scary decision it is to return to education after a gap, although it sounds like you’ve been keeping yourself busy with other qualifications.

Alike you, I had never been to university, so decided in my late twenties to apply to study Performing Arts, so I appreciate it slightly different to your chosen field of study. I must admit I really wasn’t sure until I started that I had made the right decision to leave a full-time, permanent job with a wonderful team to move 200 miles across the country to Salford. But it is one of the best decisions I have ever made, I knew I would regret not trying it more, than giving it a go and it all going Pete Tong. Thankfully it didn’t!

I didn’t do a foundation year, but I did so a year at a drama school, which was great, I then moved on to study Theatre & Performance Practice at the University of Salford as that (although a full-time course) allows me to work part-time alongside the degree.

First of all, I would say you have to do what is right for you. For my chosen degree there were no equivalent Open University options, so I can’t advise on that aspect. However, I would say it is worth thinking about:

1.

How do you learn best?

2.

Are you motivated to work independently when doing distance learning?

3.

Or do you perform better in person in a classroom environment?


Secondly, I would say if you haven’t already attended an open day for the University of Southampton and any other universities you are considering, some universities like mine offer small travel bursaries so you aren’t too out of pocket. At an open day, you can:

Chat with your chosen course tutors

Tour the campus facilities

Attend subject talks

Chat with student support teams

Explore accommodation options if you’re considering moving

Last but not least, this will give you a sense of whether you’d feel at home studying at a university.


The same goes for the Open University, I recommend contacting them to discuss what they offer outside of your course, to allow you to compare the two potential student experiences, and see what feels best for you.

Thirdly, I also wondered if I had slightly romanticized attending university, and although the university was not quite what I expected it was great in other unexpected ways. For example, all the extracurricular work opportunities, networking in my school with staff and students, and the vast array of people I have met not just on my course, but across the university. I have joined our Mature Student Society which has been a brilliant way to make friends outside of my course, get support from fellow mature students with any challenges we are facing e.g. juggling childcare and studying, and most importantly have fun. Also, I work for the university as a Student Ambassador, which is flexible, well-paid, and has allowed me to keep my hand in with the world of work.

It is fantastic that you have a financial cushion because that means you do not necessarily need to work, so you can focus on your course, but fit it around your studies if you want to.

I found it helpful when weighing up my options to write a pros and cons list for each and then see what my instincts were about each one.

I know this isn’t making the decision for you, but hopefully, it helps a little from one fellow mature student to another.

If you have any questions feel free to ask.

Lucy 😊
(University of Salford Student Rep)
Original post by haaarrison
Hey!
So I have a bit of a dilemma, and I wanted to get some outside advice because I'm completely unsure what to do next.
I'm currently holding a deferred place for CompSci at Southampton (with a foundation year), but I'm stuck weighing up whether it's the right route for me. I'd be going into it as a mature student (I'm 27) and would also be leaving my full-time job as a web developer.
I've also been looking into OU's Computing & IT (with Maths) degree as a part-time alternative, so I could keep the income and security whilst getting the degree, but at the same time I'm really worried I'm letting go of a good opportunity by withdrawing my place from Southampton as that would come along with the uni experience and in-person teaching.
I started this journey to go to university for a few reasons, but primarily I wanted to make a change in direction, grab my degree for the first time and embrace the social experience that comes with that. I love the idea of doing a CompSci degree as a way of personal/career development and with my work experience it could make for a strong CV for future job applications.
In terms of my current career, I currently work as a web developer for a family business. This was a godsend coming out of college as I didn't really know what to do after finishing my A-Levels, but I think I've reached the point where I feel like I'm held back by staying here. I'm not 100% enjoying it like I used to, there isn't much room for progression due to the size of the company. In terms of transferrable skills, I'm worried I'll struggle to find a new career especially without the degree.
A few reasons why I think I'm stuck making a decision:
* It took a bit of work to get to this point, I took on an Access diploma in Engineering and grabbed full distinctions, and retook GCSE Maths as quite a few degrees required a 6/B or above (and I hadn't studied Maths since 2013!).
* At the same time, it's obviously a lot to give up in terms of income and security. I definitely have a savings net behind me that could fund my time as a student, especially with student loans, but I know logically it's not a financially sound decision.
* On top of that, I'm worried that I'd be missing out by taking a distance learning course over an in-person degree. But at the same time I could be romanticizing the uni experience a bit too much?
* Whilst doing the Open Uni degree would technically make more sense, would I be putting myself at a disadvantage taking 'Computing & IT' over Southampton's Computer Science degree?
So yeah! Realise this is a unique (and rather fortunate) situation to be in, but I've never been so torn over a decision before. Most of all I don't want to withdraw and regret the decision and think "what if?" later down the line. If anyone has any thoughts/advice it'd be well appreciated :smile:

Hello @haaarrison,
Congratulations on your offer! It is always great to see people of all ages coming back to pursue higher education. Being a mature student myself i completely understand your dilemma. I too left my career of eight years in the industry to pursue higher education here at the University of Southampton. Similar to you I did have a financial cushion as well.

I did a pros and cons list of leaving my well settled career and pursuing this opportunity. The biggest pro for me was the international study experience i would be gaining and living the student life after so many years of corporate working. I understand that financially it sounds too much of a risk but to support yourself and pay off some debt you can work part time jobs or even find work in the University itself. There are multiple opportunities in form of part time roles and internships which you can explore.

Also I understand you are worried that it took you a while to get to this point, but consider the advantages of another degree and the scope it has in the industry. This would help you in taking the decision.

All the best for your future!

Sukriti

Quick Reply