Going to university can be a stressful experience for anyone of any age, but returning to university as a mature student possibly following a large gap in education is bound to be daunting. There can be various causes of stress and anxiety for the mature student, including study skills, time management, jobs, family obligations, and age. It is easy to feel isolated as an older student with different stressors and obligations to the average 18-year-old fresher.
For Sharon Styles, the Chair of the Mature Student Society, her biggest concern in returning to eduction was her age: “[Returning to university] was a decision I made at mid-life stage. I was concerned I’d be the oldest student…this was the catalyst for becoming involved with the Mature Student Society.”
Prior to 2015, there was little support and almost no social events within the university directed towards the needs, anxieties and social wellbeing of mature students. The Mature Student Society was formed to fill this gap, help the mature student in re-adjusting to (or continuing in) education, and to provide social and wellbeing support to older students.
Andrew Boland, the Liberation Secretary for the Mature Student Society said, “When I started there wasn’t a mature student society, now it exists it’s good to know you’re not on your own. There are lots of mature students, it helps to realise that there are plenty of us on campus.”
The Mature Student Society has been extremely active since its inception, winning “Best New Society” at the 2016 Students’ Union (SU) Awards Ceremony, and has plenty of upcoming events in the works. The society organises bespoke social events throughout the year that encourage mature students to socialise and allow them to meet like-minded individuals outside their courses. In addition to social outings, the society provides educational events that focus on adjusting to the university’s online tools, and wellbeing events that aim to battle stress.
Outside of these events, the Mature Student Society has been involved in the launching of a new peer mentoring scheme specifically catering to mature students. This new mentoring scheme will provide one-to-one support for mature students who may need a little extra help in their adjustment to university. Styles has been extremely involved in the inception of this program and commented: “The Mature Student Society has been pivotal in providing the means to network with older students, and the peer mentor scheme is taking this one step further in providing one-to-one support if you need it and signposting services should problems arise.”
If you are interested in joining or being involved in the Mature Student Society, they have various upcoming events including a pub crawl, a meet and greet, afternoon tea and a pub quiz. In addition to this, the society is currently looking for someone to fill the role of social secretary. This position would look great on CVs and while you do have to be involved, it is not a major time commitment.
Lastly, for anyone feeling overwhelmed or nervous about the upcoming term, here’s a bit of pertinent advice from Boland: “Have confidence in yourself; the university saw enough potential in you to offer you a place, you have a lot to offer the university.”