Mia recently graduated from Teesside University with a BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing, she begins her MA Creative Writing this September.  

When I started my university journey at the age of 42, I thought that I would be the oldest person in my cohort. I also felt that I would struggle to keep up academically with the younger students and that I would find it hard to make friends. I was wrong – and for once, that was a good thing.

There are various reasons why people decide to go to university later in life. You may have taken a gap year, or like me, you may have started a family and worked in various jobs before deciding to do something for yourself. It may even be a change in personal circumstances or the possibility of better career options that contributed to your decision. Whatever your motivation, you can be sure that having had more birthdays can be beneficial during your university experience because:

  • you are motivated. As someone who signed up later in life and is possibly making sacrifices to do this, you will be motivated and invested in your studies.
  • you have skills. Working or running a household has given you skills that are going to be useful during your studies. Do not underestimate the value of all your previous experiences.

This does not mean that you won’t find your studies challenging or struggle to balance your studies with other demands on your time. As a mature student, you may have even more barriers to overcome. A few of my top tips for success are:

  • make use of the support available within the university. At Teesside, all student services are now accessible through Student Life – online or in person at the Student Life building.
  • talk to your tutors. They want to see you succeed and will help where they can or refer you to someone who can.
  • attend ‘how to’ workshops in the library and make use of Peer Assisted Student Support (PASS) sessions.

So, I soon found out that about 25% of full-time undergraduate students are mature students, and that I was quite able to achieve academically. I also made lots of friends and had a great university experience. In the end, age is just a number.


By Mia Braine