Like many people, at 18 I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had done well at school, my passion being the arts, but ensure if I wanted to pursue them as a career. I knew I wanted to travel but had no money to do it. I spent a few years drifting from job to job, and when I say job to job I mean it. I think I recently calculated that I have had no fewer than 13 full time ‘careers’, although can you call it a career if you lasted 6 months?! I’ve done sales, property, makeup counter, temping, admin, payroll, hospitality, I could go on…In the middle of this I went travelling for 6 months, had the absolute time of my life, but came back still none the wiser about job prospects or a goal for the future.
Fast forward to the ripe old age of 24 and it came to me! I’d always fancied being a teacher but had always shyed away from it, partly due to being too lazy to do a degree to be honest. But now I felt ready for the challenge. I found a degree at the University of Greenwich in primary ed, was offered a place and before I knew it I was moving to London with Paul and becoming a fulltime student.
I was considered a ‘mature student’ which sounds scary. But really it’s no different, and it basically just means anyone who is 21 and not a school leaver. I still got all the benefits and financial funding so really there is no difference.
The main difference for me personally was that I was not living at home, or in University halls. I was a nearly-married woman trying to rent a flat in a very expensive part of London with my fiance on a Student Loan and trying to balance working 20 hours per week, uni and actually having a life. At times, it was tough. But I’m so proud of myself and my achieving a first class hons. I have one year left of on-the-job teacher training and then I will be fully qualified and ready to start my real career.
Disadvantages: yes, maybe you don’t get eh ‘full’ mad, student experience, but to be honest that’s down to personal choice. I didn’t live on campus so I was slightly removed from all that, but if you want to live in halls and play shithead every night aged 50 there is literally nothing stopping you! I think there are many advantages to attending uni a bit later. I feel more confident in myself and the subject I chose, I think many school leavers are rushed and pressured into a decision and their hearts not in it. I also felt more motivated to prove people wrong and show them that I could do it even after having been out of education for 6 years. I made lots of new friends, had great experiences and learnt a lot.
If anyone is considering going to University as a mature student (whether you are actually mature or not) I would say go for it. It’s not as bad as it sounds! There is literally no age limit and it could change your life.