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Lifelong Learning

Three mature students, each with a different life story, describe their personal journey to university study.
It seemed quite daunting coming to university as a mature student but actually once you get here it’s absolutely fine. People kept on saying to me you can do more than this - would you like to teach? And as the children got older the idea of having a degree and having some more qualifications really started to appeal. I actually retired approximately ten years ago and then about two years ago I ended up homeless and penniless as a consequence. It was a case of how do I get out of that scenario? And accordingly I came to UEA. Prior to coming to university I’d had an awful lot of jobs.
I’d raised a family - my children are quite grown up, they’re seventeen and eighteen. Deciding to swap hats from being a mum and part-time work to being a student was a quite big decision to make. I was very nervous going into the first lecture. I was quite surprised that the tutors are similar ages to me so that made things a little bit different, from my perspective. The first time I walked into a lecture I was slightly intimidated. I was not aware of what university life was actually like. The only thing I could compare it to was my former education forty-odd years ago. Having broken the ice, shall we say, there is no problem. I didn’t go to university.
I went straight into working in customer service and ended up working in the education sector. I ended up being put at risk of redundancy. When that happened, I evaluated what my options were - decided to come and study and get my undergrad. Going into a lecture for the first time was really exciting! It was a little bit daunting but I don’t think that, as a mature student, I really felt any different than they did because it was a new experience for everybody. The library is my favourite place on campus. There are many times that I’ve got a couple of hours to spare where I can go and sit down, do some study.
For me the real learning comes when I sit down and work through it on my own. I actually did the Preparing for University MOOC on Futurelearn, and I found that really valuable in giving me kind of a baseline from which to progress into my studies at University. The environment I’m most comfortable working in is the Grad Centre. The student union is the first in the country to have a centre that’s built specifically for postgraduates but mature students can use those facilities as well. It’s nice to have a little kind of, corner that I can just go and hide in and and focus on what I’m doing. The idea of the education degree is to embed you in an educational setting.
I have the advantage of being a mature student because I was eighteen years in a school prior to this, so I’m going in, not necessarily as a teaching assistant, but more as a researcher. One of the things that I thought as a mature student was that my interests it would be broadly different from those of the undergraduates but they’re really not. I’ve joined a number of clubs and societies. I’m part of the UEA Archery Club. I shoot longbow and took part in my first competition as a member of the University last weekend, so that was really exciting.
The biggest fear a lot of mature students have is isolation; they can be considerably older than the standard age of a school leaver. In reality it doesn’t happen - you do fit in regardless of age. You feel like part of a big club that’s all working towards making yourself a better person. I’m here because I want to be here. It’s important for me to be here, and sometimes it’s a juggle and a struggle but at the end of the day it’s really gonna be worth it.

Three mature students, each with a different life story, describe their personal journey to university study.

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Preparing for University

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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