Why it’s never too late to study. Malika tells us why being a mature undergraduate has worked out so well.
By Malika White
Three years after leaving school and going straight into work, I made the decision to return to education and study for a Bachelor’s degree to fulfil my career goal of becoming a writer.
I had considered university education after completing my A-Levels, but decided to take a gap year as I was unsure about what degree I wanted to do. I managed to find employment with an agency which gave me work in luxury retail stores, which I enjoyed, but I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Towards the end of my gap year I became unwell, which meant I had to take some more time out in order to recover.
At the beginning of this year I felt I was well enough to study; and I managed to get my ‘Firm’ offer to study BA English Language and Linguistics, which motivated me to study hard and reach my career goal. I continued working through the summer in order to save money for university, as I had heard stories from friends about how hard it can be financially for university students.
I had anxieties about re-entering education after three years of employment, and I wondered how living and studying with people in their late teens (I’m twenty two) would impact my university experience. I have found that although I’m still considered a young person, I can see a difference between the perspectives of myself and my peers. Taking time out to work has definitely matured me, and has taught me the important of managing money, which I feel has put me at an advantage during my time at university as I know I wouldn’t have had this knowledge if I had studied when I was eighteen or nineteen. My peers enjoy the typical ‘first year student partying lifestyle’ while I feel as if I have passed that stage in my life, which has also of benefit to me as I can focus more on my studies.
Being at the start of the Mature Student spectrum, my peers can’t understand how I can feel so much older than them, but I believe I’m in a totally different place now mentally than I was when I was eighteen.
I am now into my second week of university and I love my course, but I know I have to work harder to re-adjust to studying after my time out. Luckily, my university are very supportive of mature students and organise gatherings for mature students to meet each other across campus, which has really helped me to adjust. There is even a Mature Student society. I have joined a number of different groups within university, so I can meet students young and old and have the full university experience. This has definitely helped me settle in, as during Fresher’s Week there were only eighteen and nineteen year olds on campus and this made me feel ancient!
Making the decision to study at a later age than everyone else is a huge undertaking and should not be entered into lightly. From young adults to middle aged, people may have common concerns about returning to study, settling in and making friends. I certainly feel as if I have made the right decision, and although I have been here a short time; I have made some great friends and have had many opportunities to gain work experience and enhance my prospects.
I hope my experience will make anyone else considering returning to study after time out or employment to take the plunge. It’s never too late to follow your ambitions.
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