Last year I was in the same position as you. Here is my guide to the first year of university as a mature student.
- I have to admit that I only went in twice in Fresher's week, to register and to go to a course outline lecture. I live a long way away from uni so I knew I wouldn't get a chance to join any of the clubs or societies. If you live closer, or even on campus, then there are so many activities that you can sign up for. There are loads of socials as well.
- I think Fresher's week is mainly aimed at settling people into university life and getting to know people on nights out.
- Be grateful that you are not 18 or 19 again. So many of them are having a really tough time away from home for the first time.
- Expect that people will be impressed by you having a car! It surprised me but I guess they thought I was the same age.
First few weeks of the first term
- Talk to everyone you can, in lectures, seminars, common room, toilets, wherever.
- Don't admit how old you are (unless you are asked obviously). I found that as soon as I admitted to being older quite a few people stopped talking to me! Luckily I had made some good friends by then so it didn't matter so much.
- Try and find other mature students on your course. I didn't have any doing the same course as me but there were others studying different subjects who were in the same college as me.
- Work out your timetable and stick to it. If you are anything like me then you will have children, housework and a husband to juggle as well as university. I made a timetable and stuck to it.
- If you want to talk to 18 year old boys, it seems the thing to learn about is Pokemon! Don't admit to having played it on your Game Boy though. It makes you look really old!
Expect the unexpected
- Your lecturer might accidentally show you porn on YouTube during a seminar. You know that he will ALWAYS check the link he is about to click on in the future. The look on his face will stick with you forever!
- When a boy turns up covered in red paint to a tutorial and smelling of booze, don't be surprised when he admits to having just woken up in bed with a boy and a red girl! To be fair, he did come to the tutorial, most people wouldn't have bothered.
- If you are studying more than one subject, don't expect that the departments will communicate with each other. Indeed, I have found the majority of administration to be frustrating and completely inflexible towards mature students.
- Don't expect the amount student finance have told you that you will receive is a definite amount. It can and possibly will change, especially if you have given them childcare costs.
- You have very little time. Make the most of all of it.
- Treat university like work. I am there 9-5. When not in seminars or lectures, I am in the library. This way I don't have to work in the evenings.
- If you drive to university then record your notes and play them to yourself on the journey. There is more chance that you will learn them then.
- Learning is tiring.
- Juggling everything in life is tiring.
- Commuting to university is tiring.
- Make some time for yourself and grab every second that you get.
- Don't worry about housework, one day you will get the place straight!