If you’ve been away from education for a few years, it’s quite natural to worry that you’ll struggle to cope.
However, there are actually plenty of advantages to having a few years (or even a few decades!) of experience…
You have a career plan
Mature students often have a clearer idea of what they want to study. Taking time out of education provides an opportunity to figure out what motivates and interests you. Mature learners are more likely to choose employability-focused degrees and have a definite career path in mind.
You make decisions for yourself
As a mature student, the choice to further your education is yours alone; no one is telling you what to study. Teenagers are often swayed by family and friends, whereas older learners are often more independent with clearer motivations to drive you throughout your degree. Older students have also had more time to understand their personal strengths and weaknesses; this means you can choose a degree and learning format that suits you.
There are more flexible entry requirements
Some institutions (including University of Essex Online) will offer flexible entry requirements. As a mature student your application will be given special and individual consideration. You may be able to use work experience, training, professional and life experiences as part of your application.
Studying is an exciting new adventure
Studying continuously can become tiresome and some younger students can feel like they have already spent their whole lives at school. For mature students, studying will be a break from the norm and a chance to try something new. This fresh perspective and enthusiasm will help you complete your degree.
You can use your life experience in the classroom
Whatever you’ve been doing since you left school, the chances are that you’ve learnt a lot without even realising it. Just through watching the news, reading books and interacting with other people you will have built on your knowledge of the world and society. Previous work experience, or experience raising a family, can also provide a good foundation and valuable skills (e.g. organisation, money management, self-discipline, confidence) for studying a degree. Having real-life experience will also definitely help you put academic material into a broader context.
Employers like mature students
Graduates can struggle when entering the job market because employers want experience and qualifications. Mature students can take advantage of this requirement as most will already have former work experience and reliable references. Many older learners also choose to study part-time or via distance learning so they can continue to be employed whilst studying.
You’re not alone
Mature students aren’t as rare as you might think; technically, a mature student is defined as “any student aged 21 or over at the start of their studies” and 30.2% of all UK university students are actually mature students. So it’s likely that wherever you choose to study, there will be some older students in your class!
Want to learn more? Read these related blog posts…
- Am I too old to study for a degree?
- Changing career in your 30s and 40s
- The three stages of changing your career later in life