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Rich, PGCE, University of Gloucestershire 

I am so glad that I waited to go to university, rather than going straight from school... Now I feel completely confident that I can do it. 

It wasn’t an easy decision, so I went to a few open days… and we really worked out the best path for me to take. 


Dan, Copy Editor, UCAS 

Creative Writing, University of Gloucestershire 

My course was a real broad church, we had everyone – from school leavers, to young parents, to people who’d had established themselves for a number of years and were looking for a career change, or to just give themselves the opportunity they feel they’d missed earlier in life for whatever reason. And once the inevitable incidents of young foolishness were out of the way (like someone trying to microwave baked beans while they were still inside the can!) we all soon enough forgot about any perceived age gap.  


Hannah, Event Support Executive, UCAS 

English Literature, University of Gloucestershire  

I was a mature student as I started university when I was 25. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was younger so just got a job that I didn’t really have an interest in. 

Going to uni being a bit older meant that I was able to save some money beforehand, and also I found much more value in how I was spending my time. I genuinely enjoyed learning and didn’t take the opportunity for granted like I would have done when I was younger. I could also bring skills I had learnt from working, like organisation, communicating well, etc. 

My university also had a mature students society, as a space where older people who might have priorities like childcare etc could chat to people who are going through similar experiences. 


Silva, Business Change Co-Ordinator, UCAS 

Heritage and Landscape, University of Plymouth  

I was a single parent when my daughter was three years old, and I was looking for something to do at home in the evenings. I took A level English literature as a private entry student, and then did three years with the Open University. The monthly study sessions our tutor arranged inspired me to apply to Plymouth University, so that I wasn’t learning in such an isolated way. I joined the second year of their Heritage and Landscape degree, and although it was tricky at times juggling childcare, work, and studying, there were several other mature students on the course, and we supported each other. It was the best two years of my life! I graduated aged 30 and have been able to use what I learned in a variety of jobs since then. 


Kay, Internal Communications Manager, UCAS

Psychology, Open University

Every time I received and opened my new course books, I got so excited by a whole world of knowledge opening up to me


Alan, Professional Development Executive, UCAS  

Film Studies, University of Kent 

I went back to uni at 33 in 1996 – having started a course at 18 at a Russell Group Uni and dropped out because I hadn’t done enough research, and it wasn’t what I thought! 

My main pieces of advice are: 

  • Do thorough and effective research to make sure you know what you are getting, and you are going to get what you want. 

  • This will also help you to make a focused application (and write a really focused personal statement), as well as ensuring that you will be able to hit the ground running when you start your course. 

  • My biggest worry was probably around writing academic essays. At the start, I tried to use too many quotes, just to show how much I had read! My advice is to take it easy – how much you’ve read and understood will come through anyway, so make sure your thoughts and responses come through in your writing. In the end, I achieved a first, and it did wonders for my confidence! 

  • Mix with as many people as you can – of as many ages, cultures, and backgrounds… you will gravitate to close relationships. My final year housemates and I still meet up two or three times a year and have our own Instagram group… and we’ve been graduated for 20 years now! 

  • Try new things (so long as they don’t distract from your studies), such as work experience, groups, societies, and sports – they can help build your CV, your personality, and your experiences. You can really find out about yourself, apply what you learn, and have some great examples for future interviews! 

  • I started at UCAS operating the folding machines for the old paper application forms, then progressed to the Customer Experience Centre, because I wanted to help other students have my second experience of university, rather than my first. I’ve now been here for 20 years helping people understand how to maximise their chances of success when applying via UCAS. 

I went to The University of Kent, Canterbury and read for a BA in Film Studies. It was never intended to be a lead into employment in the cinema  I treated it as a purely academic discipline, studying something I have always loved, and which would provide me with lots of new approaches (e.g. aesthetic, industrial, technical, economic, etc.) and would allow me to develop useful skills, such as analytical and critical thinking.  


Would you like to contribute?

We'd love to hear about your experiences as a mature student – please get in touch, at content@ucas.ac.uk.

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