Starting university as a mature student

13 September, 2023Joshua Downes

The number of mature students applying to full-time undergraduate courses is on the rise, according to Government statistics, with online learning making higher education more accessible than ever before. But what is life like as a mature student?

Pursuing education – at any age – is always a positive, but there’s no denying that studying later in life can bring its own challenges. We explore some of these challenges, and how online learning can help overcome them.

Why return to study later in life?

People have different reasons for pursuing higher education – you might be looking for a career change, wanting to take your existing career to the next level, or simply looking to pursue an interest on a deeper level.

Studying for a degree is a great opportunity to expand your skillset, achieve your potential and open up new career opportunities. If you’ve been out of education for a while, returning to study can also be a great opportunity to get to grips with the latest communication technology and trends within your industry.

Applying to study as a mature student

If you’re looking to study a degree as a mature student, then how you apply will depend on the level of study. Most undergraduates in the UK, regardless of age, will need to apply for their chosen course through UCAS. There are a few exceptions, however, and universities offering online degrees – including LIBF – will often allow candidates to apply directly, without going through the UCAS process. Candidates from outside the UK and those looking to study at postgraduate level also apply directly to their chosen institution.

Entry requirements for mature students are often more lenient if you can demonstrate knowledge or experience of the subject you want to study. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re not sure you have the qualifications to meet the entry requirements expected of school leavers.

When it comes to paying for a degree, there’s no upper age limit on student finance – almost anyone in the UK can get funding to gain their first degree, regardless of how old they are. The loans, bursaries and grants for mature students in the UK are often the same as they are for younger applicants, making higher education accessible to all. There are also scholarships available for international students.

What is it like to be a mature student?

Mature students can face different challenges to their younger counterparts. For one thing, many will already be working and building a career. This can make full-time study more challenging. They may also have more family commitments, which can make it difficult to relocate or commute to lectures.

But student life is changing. These days, universities offer flexible learning, with different modes of study and a range of online learning materials. Mature students will find there are far more options for studying part-time as well as studying remotely. This means that you can choose a study format that fits in with your existing commitments and will not need to give up work to pursue your education.

For example, we offer degrees delivered completely online and you can choose whether you study full-time, part-time, or somewhere in between.

Advantages of being a mature student

While there are certainly challenges particular to mature students, there are also many advantages.

Firstly, mature students are less likely to be distracted by the new life experiences that greet undergraduates just leaving school and moving out of their family home. This makes it much easier to remain focused on studying.

It’s also fair to say that mature students are likely to have more experience of the working world. Understanding the importance of time management, working to deadlines, and organising your study time objectively can have a positive impact on your educational journey – especially when the pace of learning picks up.

Life and work experience can also help a great deal when it comes to things like module choice, as work experience can inform choice and mean the mature student will pick the modules most valuable to their CV.

Finally, after graduation, as a mature student, you will find that many of the skills you’ve honed during your working life will give you an advantage on the job market. Transferable skills, such as time management, experience dealing with clients, and professional communication, will be hugely valuable, even if you are entering a completely different industry after graduation.

So, do mature students do better than their younger peers? Not necessarily, but their life experience, commitment and motivation can certainly give them the best chance of success in their studies.

Apply to university as a mature student and realise your potential

Education is a path that’s always open, regardless of age, and a degree remains the most widely recognized and respected qualifications worldwide. By furthering your qualifications, you’ll be enhancing your career prospects and building a foundation of knowledge that can help you unlock your true potential.

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