Okay gang, this is going to be a bit different from my usual posts. Today I’m going to talk about the challenges (for me) of being a mature student.
I’m 35 and currently studying with the Open University. I’ve found that distance learning really works for me because I can do it in my own time and I’m not tied to any tutorials, lectures or timetables. There are deadlines and there is a set amount of reading and in some cases, audio or visual work, to adhere to. but I can pretty much dance to my own tune. If I want to be studying at 3am, I can be studying at 3am!
That said, I do really miss the tutorials and the interaction for other students. Interacting via the online forum just isn’t the same. I’m old school. I like a bit of face-to-face interaction. You can’t beat sitting in the coffee shop after the lecture loudly debating the lecture topic that you’ve just had. That for me is bliss (especially if it is accompanied by a hot chocolate)! Yes, I probably am an education geek. I love to learn and I love the academic environment.
I came to Open University after trying to go to ‘conventional’ university part-time in the evening. 3 evenings a week to be precise…..on top of full-time work! Looking back, that was madness! Some people manage it and I applaud them, I sincerely do. I have no idea how they do it though. I’ve never been so tired as I was those few years that I studied in the evenings and worked full-time too. Everything suffered and nothing got the best of me, least of all me!
First I tried law. I successfully passed the first year. How? I ask myself. The amount of reading was immense and even now I find myself thinking of case law and the summing up of judgements and I can’t suppress a groan. I started the second year but quickly differed for a year. 3 evenings a week, full-time work, trying to get quality time with hubby and unsuccessfully trying to maintain a social life was hell on earth and the love for tutorials and lectures was turning to hate. Sometimes I think of that time nostalgically. ‘How nice it would be to have a law degree’ I muse, then I think of what it would have taken and the struggle to get to that degree and I’m glad I didn’t continue down that path.
I switched to psychology and rediscovered a love for the social sciences. Now I could have completed that degree but not in this way so I withdrew from university and gave the Open University a shot.
The good thing is that I’ve been able to transfer over some of my credits from my years of conventional university. However, I miss that learning environment. My current module, ‘Discovering the Social Sciences’, has a tutorial option on a monthly basis. I go along as I find it invaluable with regard to the monthly assignments that you have to complete and it is nice to engage with the other students…even if there are only 2 others that attend!
There is no doubt that there are challenges for non-mature students too but I can’t comment on those because I’ve not experience life as a conventional student. I have, however decided, that should I win the lottery I’m going to divide my time between travelling and being a perpetual student…