Sammy, who recently started a Psychology degree at Staffordshire University, blogs on her experiences returning to education:
University students are usually fresh straight out of school or college with very little experience of the world, some might have taken a gap year, and then there’s me! I have done it all backwards, pregnant at 18, divorced by 24, now at the age of almost 37 years old and a single mother of 4 children, I have found myself back in education, attending lectures surrounded by 18 and 19 year olds.
For all these younger students moving into halls during Fresher’s Week (now known as “Welcome Week”) gives them the freedoms they have probably never experienced before. Fresher’s week can often be seen as a week where drinking huge amounts of alcohol every night is expected by your peers. Meeting new people, no parents to boss you around or tell you what to do, how to think, feel or behave. Students can even eat a pot noodle or greasy burger every night of the week if they want just because they can (with no parents around!).
But what is the reality for those of us that are a little older? Anyone over 21 is traditionally labelled a mature student – I am not sure how I feel about being labelled in this way as I don’t want my experience at Staffordshire University to be any different to that of my peers. But it will be different and that is the reality. Finding myself as a student at the mid-point in my life with responsibilities of family does help avoid some issues associated with being a fresher. I can’t do crazy nights out and I would advise my peers to avoid that if they can. I can’t roll into a lecture late because I’ve hit snooze on my alarm too many times. I have to make sure that my boys are fed and watered and tucked up in bed on time, or I’ve got to work to make sure bills are paid and there’s food on the table, and so for me university life will be very different. I have joined some Students’ Union societies such as the Marvel Society and the Pagan Society and through these groups I will meet some other people from other parts of the University. I also want to get involved with the Psychology Film Club hosted by the department and Stoke’s Psychology in the Pub talks (what better place to observe human behaviour).
The things that have stood out most to me so far might sound pretty random. The unisex toilets in Verve are like wow, that’s pretty awesome, I’ve never seen that before but it’s a fabulous idea. I wonder if normal pubs and shopping centres will ever catch on to that!?! I’ve overheard some interesting conversations between other students discussing their nights out! I’ve found myself thinking about their parents, their mothers really, and how much these students will be being missed back at home… So I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to my peers, don’t forget your mum, don’t forget your dad, yes you are having fun, meeting people and exploring this vast new world that has opened up with new possibilities, but it takes nothing to send a text, an email, or just one half hour phone call a week.
Remember them because they really do miss you!