Is it really too late to start University? If you have read the previous post, “How to change your life? Go back to study” (thank you if you did) you will know by now what sorts of doubts I had before making the big step and starting University as a mature student. I can tell you that they were ruining my sleep.
I was stuck, but not in those doubts, I was stuck in my own head! If you have those thoughts too, do not let them hold you back. They honestly do not matter. One thing that I have learned throughout my studies was how to transform these “weaknesses” into strengths.
Now let’s start tackling some of these dumb doubts I had. Was It too late when I started University at 26? No, no at all, and you won’t be either, no matter your age. I have met a lot of students of my age and much older than me. They all had different stories; some were just starting like me, some were parents, some were doing a second degree and so on.
Moreover, I have obviously also met a lot of younger students who shared my same interests. We really learned a lot from each other and became good friends. I’m not going to lie, in certain situations I did not feel in my comfort zone, not a good fit for that environment. I later realised that it was just a matter of perception, please don’t make my same mistake!
Too late to start?
Think of your age as an advantage for you, rather than a limitation! One thing I noticed from many younger students was a massive suffering of exam anxiety. That did not affect me that much. I used to work full time, long hours, pressure from stressed managers, weird customers and so on. I was not certainly going to fear an exam nor a presentation.
In my head there was a clear objective: a career change. I was tired of not having ambitions and accepting any job. I wanted more than that. This was the fuel that kept me going during my studies. I did not want to go back to hospitality, at least not as a simple “hard worker” with a ridiculous salary.
Starting University “late” has its advantages!
What about your experience, everything you have been doing so far. Have you been working? That gives you lots of skills that you don’t even imagine how useful they are when studying. You will be able to manage your time much better, but also to be a “professional student” in terms of punctuality, multitasking, teamworking, meeting deadlines and so on.
Do you have kids or you have been caring for someone? That gives an enormous advantage called “patience”, not even to mention the benefits of it if you are going to study subjects related to healthcare or teaching. You are going to have that “practical aspect” than other students often lack.
Did you have your own business? If you will study towards certain degrees (e.g. finance, marketing, business management, economics) you will be able to pick up concepts and theories much better. Most students will spend hours just to understand the basics of them! All this thanks to YOUR experience of having dealt with those aspects in real life.
You spent some time travelling or living in different places? These are all experiences that will come in handy within the multicultural University environment! After all, who says that everybody should follow the exact same education path? Where is the evidence that we are all the same in that regard? Starting University a little later can have its advantages too!
Final considerations, it’s never too late!
These are just few of the many examples that can be used to shout: it’s never too late to start University! Transform your unique experience in your strength. Sometimes what is holding you back comes from the environment surrounding you.
If you feel like external factors are influencing your choice to start University as a mature student, this article could help “why you are unsure about returning to education”. Remember that you are not alone, there is a huge community of mature students out there, larger than you think.
You might hear contrasting opinions on starting University at whatever age you are thinking of. There are people who make it till the end and change their lives, like I did. Others realise it’s not for them and give up. They all have something in common, they try. The final outcome depends on your willingness to achieve your goals!
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A starting point
Start doing some research already about how to enrol at the University you wish to study, whether on campus or online (e.g. documentation needed, pre-requisites, opening application time, potential benefits for student support). For example, I had to attend a pre-course designed for adults wanting to return to education, a foundation course.
Only after successfully completing that I could enrol (you might not need to, but better check). It would be a pity if you, despite being ready to make the step, miss the application deadline and have to wait further! Check your local institutions’ websites for help and support, they are there for this reason.
“It is never too late to be what you might have been” – George Eliot