At the age of 25, I am considered a mature student. Although I don’t feel like an older student, I can definitely see the benefits to studying after working full-time for years beforehand. I would even argue that it’s a more ideal situation. My first stint at education wasn’t a failure, but I could have done more. I have learned so much more returning to education later on in life than I did when I was 17 going to college. This is largely because I’m working harder for it. However I also bring life and work experience into the course meaning that deadlines seems so much easier to me. But what are the other benefits of being a mature student?
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The Good Things About Being A Mature Student
You Have Life Experience
This is by far the best thing about being a mature student. You’ve lived and worked in the “real world” so you know what to expect. Not only do you understand the importance of being able to pay bills, but you will have many skills you’ve picked up over the years to bring to the table. You can even help fellow students with life advice. The whole “new” course and college thing won’t intimidate you as much as someone leaving school.
You’ve Already Got Work Experience
You understand how workplaces operate and this is a huge advantage. Even if you’re retraining to join another industry, you’ve probably picked up many contacts over the years that can help you in your new venture. It also gives you a leg up when applying for jobs because a lot of people on the course will be applying for similar jobs with very little experience. it also means you have more people to vouch for you when you’re looking for references.
You’re More Mature
Being mature in education is a blessing. You manage to stay out of the pointless drama and can get on with your work easier. It also gives you the sense of responsibility taking on the course. Younger students may not take the course as seriously and start their essays the night before the due date (I know a few people like this, I have no idea how they cope!). You’ll take deadlines and assignments seriously and get them done in good time.
You Have Probably Already Been A Student
If you’ve had the student experience already it’s so much easier to focus on the actual education side of it all. You can also learn from all the mistakes you made in the past and really do the best you can. It also means that you may be used to the essay formats and the exam settings. Although a refresher on these things are probably needed, it’s a huge bonus to have that under your belt.
You Already Have A Solid Friendship Group
For a lot of people university or college is where they make their life long friends. A lot of people move away from their home city to go and study, but you can stay where you are with the friends you’ve already formed over the years. This instantly creates less pressure when socialising within your college or university group. Especially if all of your peers are quite a bit younger than you.
There Is An Instant Bond With Other Mature Students
You’ll never be lonely if there is another mature student on the course with you. I hate to say it, but in my experience the mature students do tend to team up with each other. This could simply be because they can’t relate to the 17 or 18 year olds on their course, or that the lecturers have placed them together on projects. Either way, you are not likely to be the only mature student there.
As A Mature Student You Are Likely To Have More Motivation
With life and work experience comes the motivation to learn and retrain, especially if you aren’t happy in your current career. Deadlines will feel easier to you because you’re used to having them in work and life. You’re also more likely to produce better work because you’ve got more motivation to work harder for it. The other thing is, although education is free in Scotland if you’ve gone back you’re probably paying money for it. This creates motivation to get ahead.
You’ll Have Clear Career Goals
You will have the sense not to expect your dream job straight out of college/university. Having worked already you realise that you will have to work your way up (of course you have the advantage of already having contacts and work experience). You’ve likely gone back to join a career or get further in your current career so your future will feel more certain that when you were studying straight out of school.
The Bad Things About Being A Mature Student
You May Be The Oldest In The Class
Although not always a disadvantage, you may spend half of your time thinking “god, I’m so old” or “what does that mean”. It won’t disadvantage your study journey, but will definitely affect the social aspect of studying for you. It might even stop you from forming study groups because you feel like you just can’t get on with people younger than you.
The Education Level May Be Beneath Your Skills
This is especially true if you’re training to level up in your current career. If you’ve had to go back and study something you’ve been doing for years to get ahead the lessons can become tedious for you. A lot of courses also have finance modules that you’ll fly through because…well…you’ve been paying bills and working out your take home pay for years.
Being Deemed The Mature Student May Isolate You From Your Peers
The other side of being the oldest in the class. They may not include you. If they see you as older, they may think that you dont’ want to hang out with them or study with them even if you do. When forming work groups they may stick together leaving you floating until the lecturer suggests a group for you to join. This isn’t my experience and most students I know are very inclusive.