As I sit down to take the university admissions test I question myself again. Do I want to go back to university? I’ve been working full-time with a decent wage, but the work was unsatisfying. I knew I wanted to focus on my long term career. So with that thought I went ahead and enrolled to study at Griffith as a mature age student.
I achieved my top preference at Griffith University and would be enrolled in a couple of months. I attended Orientation Week and met other students in my degree, the majority were at least ten years younger than me, just out of high school and completely addicted to Snapchat.
I successfully navigated my way through small talk and reminisced about my own high school days and adolescent problems. As the weeks progressed I was hesitant to become involved in campus events and activities, everything seemed aimed at young high school leavers. Party nights at the Uni Bar and dress up nights with 2 for 1 drinks weren’t really my cup of tea. But I also developed a FOMO (fear of missing out) attitude towards these events and decided to attend… it still wasn’t my cup of tea.
As the trimester progressed I noted the behaviour of some students in lectures, as I was scribbling down notes others were on their phone or scrolling aimlessly through Facebook. There are sometimes jokes thrown around about mature age students, that they ask too many questions, talk about their kids and draw too deeply on their own life experiences. With this in mind, I began to feel reluctant to ask more questions and discuss concepts with the teachers because nobody else was doing it.
I struggled with these issues in the first trimester, but I recognised that I was adjusting as much as the other students around me regardless of age. I recognise that we all come from different walks of life and while I might be prioritising paying for groceries, paying off the car and renting a place, others had their own priorities to deal with. I automatically made friends with some students around my age but I also made friends with people who were ten years younger than me, we study the same degree and hold the same interests and values which is key in all relationships regardless of age.
I have noticed around campus that there has been an increase in events catered for mature age students. Recently there was a cheese and wine night for mature age students and library classes dedicated to learning new technology like the Turnitin submission system. I believe the key is to keep an open mind and look for these events and activities to become involved in, even if it’s just once a month.
The most helpful task I did was sit down and I started prioritising activities I wanted to do without overburdening myself. I joined a couple societies and clubs focused on my interests, one was a creative writing club with monthly meetings and another was a social netball club. It felt good to become involved in what the university had to offer and meet other people with the same interests.
Check out the Clubs and Societies website to see what options are available.
I can say confidently that entering university as a mature age student doesn’t have to be scary and often we suffer more in imagination than we do in reality. By balancing priorities, keeping an open mind and joining clubs of interest I was doing myself a favour because now comparing my age is the lowest of my priorities.