Storm Barratt, Course Director, Staffordshire Business School
Most new students view their impending studies as a challenge, feeling nervous and excited in equal parts. For students leaving home for the first time or moving from the cocoon of sixth form and further education, the prospect of independence beckons and can be either a boon or a burden.
Everybody worries about fitting in but for the mature student, the thought that you might be a fair few years older than those fresh out of school with, in some cases, little or no academic background, only adds to the feelings of nervousness.
“I was nervous about being older and not fitting in and the hardest part was fitting the work around my family. “ Ella, 36
“I always thought students were there for a jolly – but it’s harder than it looks. At first I did struggle a bit with essays but my tutors explained it to me and after that the whole university experience became enjoyable – the learning, the lecturers, interacting with younger people.” Stephen, 66
“I wish I had been braver and done this sooner. The hardest part of the course was how much technology I had to get to grips with.” Kathy, 51
I attended Staffs Uni at the grand old age of 53 to study Accounting & Finance. I had had a few false starts with Higher Education earlier in my life when a young family, illness and money worries meant that it was nigh on impossible to continue with my studies but at 53 I figured it was now or never.
I chose a subject that I was interested in and with which I had a fair bit of experience, however my ultimate goal was to be a teacher. I opted for an accelerated degree programme as, like many mature students, taking three or four years out of my working life wasn’t feasible.
I admit, in spite of having the motivation to come to university, that on walking into a room full of young students on the first day, I did feel intimidated and for the first few days, it was like being on a different planet. However, the mature students naturally gravitated towards one another recognising common ground in life experience and it soon became clear that it was the perfect environment for us. Over the coming weeks and months, we laughed and cried together and supported each other through studying, building a bond of friendship which is still with us today.
I was one of the lucky ones in that I didn’t have children living at home (in fact my youngest son was at university at the same time), nor did I have to work full-time but the commitment of my peers who had young families to look after, working and studying, I was blown away by their dedication even when times got tough.
As the weeks moved on, in spite of a 35-year age difference, it became obvious that I could learn as much from the school-leavers as they could from me. Two particular students dragged me kicking and screaming through the Economics module by helping me in their spare time, and in return, I proofread their written assignments.
There are so many benefits to being a mature student. As one of our 2021 graduates, Anthony, explains
“I came to University completely lacking in confidence but over the months my confidence grew, not only because of the friendships made but also the excellent support from the University – from academic tutors to library staff to well-being counsellors. I couldn’t have asked for more. I will be returning to Staffs to study for a Masters in Sep, something I didn’t even dare dream of when I first started.”
Yes, university study is hard and very challenging at times but the immense sense of pride when graduation finally beckons, particularly if it hasn’t been plain sailing, is a great feeling.
Graduates from my course have gone onto become teachers (higher education lecturers!!), accountants, business owners and more, so join us for an adventure of discovery – who knows where it might take you.