University of Edinburgh Main Library

What is ‘mature’ anyway?

Returning to higher education can be daunting, especially if you have been used to receiving a full time wage for some years! Then there is that last little detail……I’m now what is classed as a ‘mature student’.

Mature?! Up until last year I was still living at home with the family dogs sleeping on my bed, with my mother shouting upstairs that she had hung up my washing because I had not immediately emptied the machine.  To me, age felt like a number and didn’t reflect who I really was. However, part of me was concerned about returning to university at 31.

I wasted months worrying about this tiny, insignificant point.  In the weeks before school started I panicked, wondering how old I would in fact end up feeling next to newly graduated undergrads. How would I make conversation with people? Will everyone be young and wanting to party? How would I handle engaging with people who have no idea what it’s like to work?

I was completely wrong to worry. The best part about the students at the Business School is their variety – from so many countries, so many backgrounds, so many different experiences and so many ages.  I realised as a mature student I was not in fact an outsider on the side lines, but rather that I had unique points of view to offer. Suddenly I had an enthusiasm and confidence that I didn’t have as an undergrad. I am no longer too shy and self-conscious to speak up in class and the courses are set up in a way that encourages discussion, and I feel my experience can really contribute.

My undergraduate degree was in Sociology at Edinburgh University and I am still surprised about how different I feel as a mature postgraduate at the Business School.  There is a sense of professionalism mixed with an understanding that everyone here wants to do well, wants to collaborate and share ideas and has respect for each other.  Whether you are a mature student or a young fresh-faced recent undergraduate is almost irrelevant – you are just part of the graduate Business School.  You feel immersed in the university culture and feel like you are part of such a great community – the fact you class as a mature student isn’t even a factor.

The prospect of giving up an income and exchanging business attire in an office for slaving away in the library wearing loose fitting, comfortable clothing whilst sipping your 4th mocha from the library café, can certainly cause you to question if this is the right course of action to take.

But, I urge you to embrace the baggy, leisure clothes and throw yourself back into the student lifestyle. It’s scary how quickly the academic year goes by and I am already in an element of denial about returning back to the workforce when my course ends!

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Fiona Hay

Fiona is a student on the MSc International Human Resource Management (2018) programme.