• Mature student profiles - Social Science and media students

The best way to find out what it’s like as a Social Science mature student is to ask some mature students. So that’s what we’ve done. Below are experiences and top tips from TSR members who have returned to or entered Higher Education at a later stage in life. If you have your own questions about what life is like as a mature student visit our mature student forum and post up a new thread you're sure to get a helpful and swift response.

TSR Username: Mullings1

Age: 40

Studying: Formerly Stanmore College. Currently studying at Brunel University LLB Law 3 years

Reasons for returning back to education as a mature student?

After raising my children and working several years, I decided to go back to full time education.

How are you funding yourself?

Student Finance (loan) and (Maintenance Grant)

Where do you live?

I live in London, within my own accommodation

What were you doing before?

Raising my two children. Working as a legal secretary, which is where my interest to study law came from.

Did you need to refresh your study skills (essay writing etc.)? If so how did you do it?

As a mature student I undertook the ILEX Legal Secretaries Diploma, which I received 6 distinctions. Immediately after the course, I enrolled on the Access Course Law Pathway.

Challenges with being a mature student?

After being away from education for a long time, I experienced anxieties as to how I would cope with the workload. My tutors were very supportive and understood my situation and made allowances for that.

Best bits about being a mature student?

Knowing that it is never too late to get a degree. Also, knowing there are likeminded people in the same situation as myself.

How do you find being older than most students?

While I was completing my Access Course, the oldest student was 60 years old, so it didn't seem so bad. The amount of knowledge that this lady new was enormous. The universities I have researched welcome mature students, knowing this has put my mind at rest. I am not sure how I would cope if I was the only mature student in the class.

What I hope to gain?

A degree hopefully and a great job to boot

How do your children/husband/wife find you being a student (if applicable)?

My daughter is 19, she is so proud of me, and my family are very supportive and are behind me 100%

Any tips for other people contemplating becoming a mature student?

Don’t be put off because of your age. Look at this as an advantage not a disadvantage. It is never too late. If you have been out of education for a while, Access Courses are very good, and these are recognised by most universities. Research your universities, to see if they welcome mature students. Go to as many open days, and ask as many questions possible to put your mind at ease. Lastly the best of luck!




Name: Thomas Williams

Age: 24

Studying: Media and Communications BA (HONS) Fulltime at Birmingham City University (BCU) (Formerly University of Central England)

Reasons for returning back to education as a mature student?

  • Increase my career options
  • Stretch myself intellectually
  • Meet interesting people
  • Move away from my home town

How are you funding yourself?

Funding from Local Education Authority.

Where do you live?

Selly Oak, Birmingham (term time) and Worthing, West Sussex (during holidays).

What were you doing before?

I worked in insurance claims for 4.5 years with Norwich Union in an office come call centre.

Did you need to refresh your study skills (essay writing etc.)? If so how did you do it?

Prior to this course I did a Media Studies Access course because my A-level results had not been adequate. On this course I had a refresher on essays but this is not vital for the Media course at BCU. The weekly assignments set in my theory lecture were teaching the skills required to write an essay but in a broken down manner. Even without this, you can seek out helpful resources on campus which give free information and help with academic reading/writing if necessary. The help is there if you are pro-active.

Challenges with being a mature student?

It is not as straight forward making friends straight away when not living in halls of residence however, many of my classes require group work and there are societies to join in fresher's week which can help you form bonds. It is helpful to have a supportive family to have people to have friendly people to talk to until you make those bonds.

Best bits about being a mature student?

I have experienced the working world and have gained valuable lessons that I can apply to University life. I already know how to cook, clean and look after myself which many first time students struggle to come to terms with. Using past experience to understand why we are asked to do what we do at University and understanding the mechanisms is probably the best bit.

How do you find being older than most students?

I found it difficult at first with most people being 18-19 because you can feel slightly isolated but because they are maturing at such a rate it does not stay a problem. Knowing how the world works in reality is actually a huge advantage so that element is extremely enjoyable.

What I hope to gain?

I hope to gain an interesting career that offers a comfortable lifestyle, an expanded knowledge of my subject and an expanded group of friends.

How do your children/husband/wife find you being a student (if applicable)?

N/a

Any tips for other people contemplating becoming a mature student?

  • Dictaphones are extremely advantageous in a lecture situation. Especially if you're academic skills are rusty.
  • Join a society or get a job (tutors can advise how many hours to work). This is a great way to meet different people other than on your course and can help structure your life so that you can get work done.
  • Don't pre-judge the younger students because they will surprise you.
  • Do not worry about taken 3 years out of your life to make an improvement, the time goes so quickly.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions
  • Ask about extra funding. As mature students we can be entitled to more help especially if you have any dependents.
  • Consider your university time table as a 9-5 routine even if you have many free periods.
  • Being on a popular social network site like facebook can really help you stay in the loop if the join the university group page. Most Universities have pages on facebook now.
  • Be proactive
  • Enjoy yourself, 3 years is not a long time.

Janet_Bowens_mature_student.PNG

Name: Janet Bowens

Age: 40

Studying: DipHE/BA (Hons) Applied Social Science, Community Development and Youth Work programme at Goldsmith’s University.

Comments: For many years I dreamed about doing a Higher Education Course, it just seemed there was never a right time. I am so pleased I found Goldsmith’s University - it’s such a wonderful place. I am much more confident now and my whole life has been enriched. University life has been amazing and I’d urge any potential mature student to go. I am also looking forward to a career which will lead to a good salary. If I can do it so can you.




Jenny_Gray_mature_student.PNG

Name: Jenny Gray

Age: 51

Studying: BA in Early Childhood Studies at the University of East Anglia

Comments: Having a degree-level qualification has become more and more important in recent years. I had always regretted not going to university and am so pleased that I made the decision to go back to education as a mature student. I received really good support through my course, made lifelong friends and have achieved something I feel extremely proud of – going to university is never too late.




Jessica_Balls.PNG

Name: Jessica Balls

Age: 30

Studied: BA in journalism at the University of Sheffield

Comments: I really enjoyed my time at university as a mature student and never felt any different from the other students on my course. I would highly recommend Higher Education, it helped me to get where I am today.




TSR Username: biba girl

Age: 25

Studying: English and Politics - Queen's University Belfast, Full Time

Reasons for returning back to education as a mature student?

Realised any job I wanted to do would require a degree.

How are you funding yourself?

LEA.

Where do you live?

Northern Ireland.

What were you doing before?

Working in IT.

Did you need to refresh your study skills (essay writing etc.)? If so how did you do it?

I went back to college and did a fast-track (one year) Foundation Humanities course which was certified by Queen's University, so was specifically to prepare you for their courses. It included a study skills module.

Challenges with being a mature student?

None really - I'm not married, don't have children and didn't give up a proper career. I still live mostly at home and work part time, so my life isn't much different to younger students.

Best bits about being a mature student?

I appreciate being at university more because I've had jobs that were boring and poorly paid, so knowing the sort of thing I'd have to go back to definitely motivates me to do well!

How do you find being older than most students?

This is a bit tricky for me because I'm only in my mid-twenties and I look younger, so no one really guesses I'm a mature student. I can't totally relate to the 18/19-year-olds because I am a bit older than them, but at the same time I can't really relate to the 'proper' mature students, because I'm not worrying about things like kids and mortgages! I have felt more excluded by other mature students (people in their 30s/40s) than I have by younger students.

What I hope to gain?

A degree, and hopefully a better job than I would have otherwise.

Any tips for other people contemplating becoming a mature student?

Try to get into the university experience as much as you can - make friends with different kinds of people, join clubs/societies that look interesting, make use of the careers/learning services, etc. Basically, take advantage of all the resources available to you, because you're paying for them and you'll probably regret it in the end if you just coast through your degree.




TSR Username: eve_22

Age:22

Studying: Certificate of HE in Legal Method, Birkbeck University of London (Access to Law course) – Part Time 1 year

Reasons for returning back to education as a mature student?

I wanted to give myself the long awaited chance of achieving my dreams and realising my ambitions.

How are you funding yourself?

Self funded (through earnings at work). However, as from October 2009 I will be getting government support from Student Finance.

Where do you live?

London

What were you doing before?

I left school at 16 and moved to the UK. Since then, I have been working.

How do you find being older than most students?

The course I am currently studying on is for mature students, so I wouldn't know about that.

What I hope to gain?

My aim was to get an offer from a university to read law, which I did and which I am extremely pleased about.

How do your children/husband/wife find you being a student (if applicable)?

My partner (I am not married) is very supportive and have been all along the way. I don't know how I would have handled the stress without his support :love:

Any tips for other people contemplating becoming a mature student?

Do not hesitate and go for it! Put the work in and the results might pleasantly surprise you.




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