Recently there has been a lot of services offering advice on campus, anti social behaviour , rent advice, Dundee energy efficiency services to name but a few. As a mature student I really had no need for these services but I see the value in having them there to offer advice to the younger students who may just be starting their journey into independence.
Now this blog is a little insight into some of the “issues” that a mature student may face.
Let me begin with a little anecdote.
Yesterday after a rather enjoyable and interactive lecture on working with parents, there was an hour break before the next lecture so myself and a few fellow students made our way to the union to relax and enjoy a coffee. On entering the union we were met with a host of aforementioned agencies offering advice and freebies. Now I like a freebie as much as the next person and there were particularly nice jute bags! The two Bens and I stopped to chat with the anti social behaviour team (they had really nice trolley coins and led torches!) and it was during this chit chat that the women giving us information innocently asked…” So… is this your son then ?”
I politely replied that he was actually a fellow student and that we were studying on the same course. Of course she was suitably apologetic and being as good natured as I am had a slight giggle and assured her that it was an easy mistake to make seeing as how, technically, I could actually be his mother!
Whether I looked particularly tired or haggered yesterday is a question I have since reflected upon and have decided that perhaps I may try a new make up look and invest in some anti wrinkle cream! I believe that these are quite good…
There are, of course,several advantages to being a mature student and I will touch on these at the end, meantime let me address some of the more problematic points.
- Being mistaken for a students parent>> I have covered this above!
- Trying to put my own experience and prejudices aside> This is an issue that I am finding particularly difficult at the moment and particularly during the Interagency working inputs. (This of course could be argued as being valuable in terms of criticality)It is really important to be reflective and open to other ideas and opinions and this is an area that is always developing.
- Joining in on “what did you get up to at the weekend chats” >>My weekends are generally rather boring, every Saturday involves ferrying two of my boys to their respective football matches and afterwards there is normally a fundraising event for one of them so that takes care of Saturday and Sunday is … well… it’s ironing day ! All particularly boring and pales in comparison to my fellow students accounts of which club/party/event they attended. which leads me to the next point.
- Juggling family/work and study>> This is really no mean feat, between extra curricular activities for my children, picking up supply work and managing the house(luckily my husband is quite supportive and has managed to get a handle on the workings of the washing machine!) and of course the charity work that I am involved in make this a particular challenge. Study is actually classed as a luxury and I make full use of my local library along with the library on campus. I am so grateful that their is remote access to journals and an abundance of ebooks, this enables me to work from home.
- Finding common interests>> I suppose the only common interest that I have is really the course, although I do believe there are several societies that are aimed at the more mature student.
This leads me to my last point…
- Not living on campus> (This of course could be applied to anyone not living on campus) I generally have to get home to the children and various other commitments that I have. Not living on campus means not being fully integrated into the life of the University and as such can lead to feelings of exclusion. It also makes it particularly difficult to meet up ,at mutually convenient times, with fellow students as is the case in interagency working.(although I don’t personally have much of an issue with this, I still feel it is a valid point to be made.)
The advantages of being a mature student,however, means that I can draw on my own life experiences and of course work experience. As such I can draw upon my network of colleagues and friends for advice and professional development. Having had those experiences I feel puts me in a position that I do not necessarily need to integrate into the full “University experience”. For me, my aim is to obtain my degree and work to provide for my children along with making a difference to the lives of all children that pass through my classroom doors. I hope that my own children aspire to attend university and see me as a role model, although I would hope that they would follow the more traditional route and continue in education rather than the route that I personally took.