Tips For Starting Uni as a Mature Student

I can’t believe I’m entering my final year of University. It feels like so long ago that I was just starting my second degree, and the four years felt like they would take forever to pass. And yet, here I am, about to begin my third placement.

It has been a rollercoaster of emotion, of ups and downs throughout the three years. It has been hard work, it’s been fun, interesting, stressful and will be SO worth it when we finish.

If any of you are thinking of studying again, or going to Uni for the first time as a mature student, I cannot recommend it enough. Finding a subject you find fascinating, enjoy learning about or if you want a career change, then don’t let the fear of being a mature student put you off!

Here are my top tips for getting through uni as a mature student…at whatever age that might be, whatever subject you might choose or course you take up…

Make friends 

I know this sounds silly, but I didn’t go back to uni this time round to make friends. But I couldn’t have made it through the past three years without my group of friends. I managed to get really lucky and find three girls, two of them are also mature students. They are more organised, more intelligent and way more on the ball than I am, and I wouldn’t have made it this far without them!

See those orange cans…we had to fill them with our pee and test them. It was gross. And they made a mistake in the lab so all our results were invalid and we had to use test data.

What its like as a mature student

Be kind to yourself 

I read a quote by runner Nick Simmonds about his own degree, and how he knew that between running and uni, something had to give. He decided to push for his running and be OK that he might not get straight As. I had to do the same for my uni, I knew that I couldn’t balance everything and put my all into getting a first. So I made a choice, to be happy with a 2.1, whilst doing the best I can. Realising that we can only do what we can, and being kind to ourselves is really important if you want to get through it.

Prioritise. Be efficient. But be kind.

Forget the expensive lunch habit 

It’s really hard going from a full salary where nipping out to Pret every lunch is no big deal, to one where there isn’t quite such a big disposable income. I haven’t quite got the hang of this one, especially when it comes to my coffee habit, but I do remember a packed lunch a couple of days a week!

What its like as a mature student

Make the most of that student card 

On the other hand, you can make the most of the savings that come along with a student card. I love the Young Person’s Railcard, the 20% off at Topshop, ASOS and Amazon Prime.

Find someone in the department to befriend

I found it difficult being back at uni, with all the challenges of outside life without some leeway. Unfortunately, things are a little disorganised (ok, a lot disorganised) at the university I attend, and that means that we aren’t given a lot of advance warning to changes in schedules, exams, or flexibility with life. I’m lucky that I have someone in the dietetics department that I can speak to, however it is still really tough.

What its like as a mature student

Utilise the most of the resources 

Since I was last at university, they’ve developed websites that actually do the referencing for you! No more Harvard referencing system – my first dissertation had pages, and pages, and pages of references, all done individually. The librarian taught a class on referencing in our first year at London Met…I didn’t go because I thought I already knew how to reference. Turns out, the info she shared was invaluable and time saving, so I went to the following year. Utilise the librarians, the support staff, the postgrads and the mentors to give you tips and advice, a helping hand and a reassuring nod. You might just learn something new.

A few last tips:

  • Wear comfortable shoes (I got huge blisters on the first day)
  • Take notes, take photos, write things down – especially the dates of exams and coursework deadlines. Any excuse to go stationary shopping.
  • Snacks, plenty of snacks and water for long lectures (ours are 3 hours long!)
  • Don’t leave things until the last minute, you never know what will happen in your outside life and don’t want to have the coursework deadline at 9am and a sick child (yours or the one your looking after) to stop you handing it in. Speaking from experience.

I’m going to be writing more posts on training as a dietitian, and my final year placement – but please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know or want me to write about.

Here are some of the post I’ve written about studying to be a dietitian previously.

Day in the Life of a Student Dietitian

Dietetics Student Hospital Placement 2

Completing Second Year Dietetics Degree

Completing First Year Dietetics Degree 

3 Comments

  1. September 4, 2018 / 3:07 pm

    Such good tips. I went back for my MS at nearly 27 and it was wonderful, although I did it PT/evenings. Some of those classmates are not only friends, but colleagues.

  2. September 4, 2018 / 9:55 pm

    This is hilarious – I started my PGCE yesterday and I have giant blisters.

    Let’s not discuss me walking into my very first class, sitting down and the wheeled chair coming out from under me and me falling onto my bum on the floor in front of the entire class.

    • charlotte
      September 5, 2018 / 4:25 am

      oh Cathryn, hope it was one of those, laugh with everyone moments! But yay for you starting your PGCE and I’m sorry you made the same rookie mistake of new shoes as i did!!

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