Once you reach a certain age – the age when you are thrilled to be mistaken for someone a few years younger than you actually are – you start to hear this oft-repeated phrase, “age is just a number”. And yes, that’s partly true (see below) but once you are in an environment where your age is fairly unique, you start to realise this may not be so true.
Going to university later in life is just one of these situations. If you’re over 21 (or sometimes 20) you are normally labelled as a “mature student” – this comes with pluses and minuses. But I won’t bleat on about those; I’ll cut to the chase.
Put succinctly – if you think your age is a massive issue, or you feel your age will be a burden; it will be. If you make it an issue; it will be. If you go on and on about the fact that you’re soooooo old and constantly refer to just how much older you are than everyone else is – no-one will see YOU. They will only see your age – something they probably wouldn’t have cared about before you bored them to tears harping on about it! This may sound harsh – but it’s true. Embrace your age, your life experience, your alternative outlook and wear it with pride. You have travelled a different road – make those years count and work FOR you, not against you. You’re likely to be more mature, more focused, more balanced, more self-aware and more able to get the most out of your uni years than the ‘average’ 18/19 year old.
My other piece of advice is to explore whether your university has a mature students meet-up or a mature students society. In my experience (in the last two weeks) it is a fantastic way to make friends of a similar age, get some reassurance, relax and share stories. I turned up to my university’s ‘Mature Student Meet-up’ with low expectations and I was blown away by the amount of amazing people I met. We all got on like a house on fire – set up a WhatsApp group for us oldies and went to the pub for burgers and drinks afterwards. The next night I hosted pre-drinks and we went clubbing…yep, we went en masse to a club and danced the night away – including one of our gang who is 50.
I have met and mingled with 16-60 year olds in the last couple of weeks – and each person has had their own story, their own baggage, their own hopes and dreams. I haven’t defined them by their age – and nor should you define yourself by your age – whether you are starting university at 16 or 60 (or older, it just flows better that way…)
So there we go – the sky’s the limit – no matter how old you are, how old you feel or how old you look. With age, comes experience. With experience, comes knowledge. And with knowledge (of yourself, others and the world), comes a whole host of open doors.
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