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Being a Mature Student: Naomi's experience

Friday 3 October 2014 NUS News

Naomi is a mature, part-time student studying English Literature. She is in her third year of six, and she has a 17 year old daughter. Here she talks about her experiences, and why she's glad she chose this path.

I’m a mature student. In body not mind. Studying keeps my brain active and youthful and I love it. I love learning and absorbing new information like a sponge. A sea sponge, not a cake sponge (although I’m very good at absorbing cake too…).

As well as being a mature student I also work part-time as an assistant manager of a Mind charity shop, and I’m a full time mum to a seventeen year old daughter. Life can be very busy and takes a lot of planning. I chose to study for a degree part-time with Open University as it suited me the most with my other commitments. I live in a rural location with limited transport in and out so going to a university I had to travel to was not an option (unfortunately, teleportation is not one of my skills). Being an Open University student allows me to work, be an at home mum and get a degree all at once.

Some people might think that being an at home student is isolating but it doesn’t have to be. There are Facebook groups for the modules I study where you can chat to your peers about the course or about life in general. There are also social media groups on the Open University website itself where again you can interact with your peers about the course content or any insignificant trivia. My advice would be to link up and mingle to feel part of the group. What you put in you get back out tenfold.

Being a mature student has its advantages. For me, time management is easier now than it would be if I was young and carefree. I already have to structure my time with my job and my daughter so scheduling in study time is not too difficult. It’s not always the same pattern each week but the hours I put in are. I might be studying until 2am on occasion if my daughter is staying at my mum’s and creativity hits me. It’s all about finding what fits for you and planning study time into your routine. Being mature and responsible (friends of mine may raise eyebrows at me referring to myself this way) it’s less easy to be distracted by offers of the pub and wild nights out. Although offer me coffee and cake and that might be a different story.

There are so many great perks of having a student discount card too, I love whipping out my NUS extra card at the cinema and asking for a student ticket. The second glance of the cashier always makes me smile – yes I am 42 and a student. They are not mutually exclusive. So my main snippets of advice to other mature part time students (or it could apply to all students really) would be organise your time wisely, interact with fellow students for support and study what you enjoy to enjoy what you study.