My name is Kirsty Hall and I have just completed my second year at the University of Hull, where I am studying for an Undergraduate Degree in Education Studies.
I had always planned to go to university after college, but life threw me a curveball and I became a mum instead. After my partner completed his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and postgraduate diploma, and after we had another baby, the time finally felt right for me to return to studying! I had some good life experience, and my previous jobs helped me to develop and confirm I wanted to pursue a career in education. I think this is the biggest benefit to being a mature student – you really know what you what to do.
During the application process I was extremely nervous at how I would manage running a home, looking after my children, and studying. The university helped to calm my nerves by putting on two mature student days over the summer, where we could go in and meet other mature students and have small talks about important things that happen at university, such as grammar and spelling, computers, the library, and a really helpful talk about how to cope, prioritise, and give yourself credit for what you are embarking on.
In my first few weeks I got to know people on my course – yes, they were all younger than me, and some of them I did not click with right away, but I made friends and found I did have things in common with them.
The hardest part to adjust to was not the different style of learning, but the independent study outside of lectures, especially in the build up to deadlines. I wanted to get into a routine of little and often by working in the evenings, as well as weekends. This was not as successful as I had anticipated, but I made time where I could in the evenings. My main time for working was on the weekends, and this meant being away from my children. I was worried how they would feel as I missed out on their weekend adventures. They were, and still are, sad when they realise I am not coming, and that makes me feel incredibly guilty. However, the summer is long! Although I continue to work during the summer, it is not constant, and there is less pressure, as the only deadlines are the ones I set myself. I have realised the weekend sacrifices are more than made up for over this period, and I am hoping that by watching their mum go through this process, they will appreciate the hard work and self discipline, and this will instil a good work ethic in them both for their future!
My tips for other mature students are to be organised – with other family and job commitments, you cannot afford to be disorganised – getting little bits of work done often has really helped me.
Be confident – you deserve your place at university as much as the people coming straight from college.
Make relationships with your peers and with staff – this makes it so much easier to go and ask for help when needed. I became course rep too, so I can find the help I need, but also signpost my peers who are sometimes less confident to go and ask for help.
Give yourself a break! This one I really struggle with – one piece of advice I got from the mature student open days is that sometimes you have to let the house get messy, and around deadline time my house certainly does. Sometimes you cannot do it all, but after the deadline passes, you can tidy up again!