How did you imagine your life at 30 when you were 18 years old, and your only responsibility in life was to attend uni? How about 40 or 50? Whatever your age is now, I bet you had very different aspirations back then. And you certainly wouldn’t have anticipated that, at your current age, you would be wondering if it’s worth being a mature student.
And yet here you are, considering another course.
Did you let your eighteen-year-old self down? Certainly not! Most likely, your younger self was too foolish to truly appreciate the process of learning, and too clueless to know what you truly want.
Having done four courses so far (three of them as the so-called ‘adult learner’), I can assure you that it’s no walk in the park. But apart from the obvious value of learning another skill, the experience has also taught me some universal truths. Here’s what I’ve learned.
1. Being able to study full-time is a luxury
Now that you’re a mature student (which typically means you’re older than 23), you probably also have to juggle the responsibilities of having a full-time job, a family, maybe even both. Gone are the times when preparing for your finals was your only worry.
Sure, no teenager ever likes to hear their parents’ nagging about the homework. But not having to pay bills — and your education costs, which is a little fortune — certainly has its perks.
If only the past you could have appreciated that luxury a little more… Am I right?
Well, even if you were the most grateful student in the world who skipped parties for the sake of books, that probably wouldn’t have changed a thing.
You can’t expect an eighteen-year-old to know what they want to do with the rest of their life. We all had our dreams and ambitions that didn’t quite work out, and it’s completely normal. At that age, they’re as serious as the aspirations of a five-year-old who wants to become a princess when they grow up.
2. Your life experience makes you a better student
As an adult learner, you’ve probably already had a chance to verify the said dreams and ambitions.
Maybe you found out that the thing you were after wasn’t a good fit for you, or you ended up working in a job you hate. Perhaps you needed to upskill after you’d been laid off due to the pandemic, or you simply discovered a new passion that you wanted to pursue.
Whatever it is, you have been through a journey that taught you some new valuable skills. You are a different person now, with a wealth of experience and, hopefully, more wisdom.
More importantly, though, you have a clear goal in mind, which makes you so much more attentive and thorough than when you were in your ‘good old’ uni years.
3. This time you learn because you want to
Whether you decided to join a course out of necessity or out of passion, one thing is for sure: this time, it is your conscious decision.
You’re not doing it out of peer pressure, because your parents are lawyers and you have to follow the family tradition. Also, you’re not doing it because all your friends think architecture is so cool, or because your boyfriend is going to art school.
You’re an adult now; you don’t have to impress anybody any longer, and you only answer to yourself.
4. You learn to appreciate the value of free time
Weekend? What’s that? When you’re a mature student with a myriad of other life responsibilities, you don’t get to Netflix and chill.
In fact, you’re lucky if you manage to get a full night’s sleep. But in the odd moments that you do get to rest, you truly savour every minute.
A weekly planner should become your best friend, where you’ll learn not only to organise your workload but also to schedule your me-times. You need to arrange appointments with yourself to practice mindfulness, do a quick yoga stretch, or simply breathe to keep your stress levels in check.
You probably wouldn’t remember to do these things if you had loads of time. We only learn to truly appreciate our me-moments when we don’t have them.
5. Learning keeps you forever young
The thought of joining a course as an adult can be a scary one, and I totally get that.
You doubt your ability to study after such a long break, and you worry whether you will fit in with the rest of the younger students.
These are very valid concerns, but let me tell you this: mature learning is just learning. And with the current climate, we see adults returning to education more often.
The times when you could work in the same job until you retire and leave with a golden watch are long gone. And guess what, having everything figured out by the age of 30 is a big fat myth.
We are now more youthful and more energetic than ever before. We need to be flexible and resilient in the ever-changing work environment. Employers see these skills as extremely valuable, so don’t ever feel bad for re-joining education later in life.
Learning is a life-long process, and it makes us grow into better humans. It also keeps our brains young — literally! In fact, continuous education is considered essential in the healthy ageing process as it may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
So is it worth being a mature student? Heck yes! Go ahead and sign up for that course, and enjoy the process!
Are you thinking about returning to education? Let me know in the comments section below!