Stick your neck out there, by Karl Klakegg

Stick your neck out there, by Karl Klakegg

Entering university as a mature student can be a scary affair. Will I fit in? Are people going to think I’m weird? Quick answer, yes on both accounts. When I started university, we had four-hundred students on my program. I don’t know about the people reading this, but when I walk into a room filled with four-hundred people, many of them are going to think I’m weird. But more importantly, even more will have something in common with me, find me interesting, and like me for who I am. Everything in life has its pros and cons, and being a mature student is no different.

One of the most stressful things about being a mature student is quite simply that you are older than almost everyone else. I grew up in a small village where everyone in my class was the same age. Going into university knowing that everyone would be younger than me was a very new sensation; I was used to being the young gun, and suddenly I felt like people were going to judge me for being too old. I am sure most mature students feel this way, but the fact is that age does not matter. The only reason all your friends in secondary school are your age is because you are forced to be around them all the time. A month into my degree, my friends and I realised we didn’t even know how old each of us was, which goes to show just how unimportant age is. There are some uncomfortable elements about being a mature student. Some of your classmates will be younger at graduation than you were when you started the degree, but that’s fine! You will have many different jobs, and many of us will change career completely; whether you start working in this field at 22 or 28 makes no difference. When you graduate and all your peers recognise they have no real work experience on their CV, you realise that mixing up the order is fine.

When it comes to fitting in, I would argue that being a mature student is a good thing. Maybe you have been to university before, have some full-time work experience, or perhaps you have served in the military. In my case it was all three, and when I started this degree, I was very grateful for each of them. Having other experiences before starting university makes you more interesting than 90% of your classmates, by having stories to tell and knowledge to apply; use it for what it is worth. Use it to make friends, use it to improve your learning, and most importantly use your life experience to make sure you enjoy university.

If you are reading this, you’re probably a mature student who is stressed about starting university, and my advice to you is simple: stick your neck out there, show others who you are, and I promise you, you will make friends and have a great time at university. After all, you are more interesting than most other people on your program.