Starting University as a Mature Student

Man with backpack next to bookshelves.

 

Welcome to the best two decisions of your life: joining King’s College London and reading this! Overconfident jokes aside, I know how you feel right now. I get it. I’ve been at KCL for three years, and while it feels like home now, I can vividly remember how I felt when I got here on Day 1.

Academic life. Social life. Moving away from home. Perhaps a new country. Different culture. You’ve heard, read, seen, known of these issues already. Mature student? Better add: Family. Work. Money. Debt. Time. The list goes on.

All that worrying and feeling insecure and unsure of myself. It felt horrible. And now? I’m just giggling to myself. How did I not see that all of that was unwarranted? I’ve passed every challenge until now and it won’t be different this time.

I struggled in the beginning. How could I not? It had been ages since I was in an academic environment. I had forgotten a lot of the stuff that was being covered in classes. Somehow, I knew that I had come across most of these concepts, but I didn’t know what or how much I understood, and in a silly way, I didn’t know what or how much I didn’t know. Honestly, I couldn’t even remember what I had unlearned. And that felt daunting. Week 1 and already playing “catch up to that 17-year-old!”

Even with all my responsibilities outside university, I got through the academic hurdles. I’m on track to getting a First in almost every module that I’m registered for right now. And you know why and how that is? I know how to manage my time, how to get organized, how to prioritize, how to get things done, and how to keep deadlines. I just realized that I can apply all of that to university too. And I’m telling you this because I’m willing to bet that it is the same case with you: we’ve seen The Real World™.

I also thought that I’d be an outsider among these “kids” - as I thought of my peers. But you know, they are not so different. Sure, my classmates get excited by things on Snapchat or Instagram, but they’re just as brilliant as anybody else. After all, they’ve gotten into an elite university and into the same course as me and other mature students. I share numerous common insecurities as them. Most of them are non-Londoners at the beginning of the course, struggling to fit in, finding their feet, just like me. This new and different life united us. And now, I consider many of them to be my friends, or at the very least, good working colleagues. I haven’t even told you about how much better and more comfortable it was to do exactly that with my teachers and other university staff. It’s been absolutely brilliant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, I realize that it couldn’t have gone any other way in my social life at university. My previous life has taught me, through countless interactions with so many different types of people, how to read, deal with, work or even become friends with so many people. I just continued that trend subconsciously at university. Another plus for mature students.

One of the best parts of this experience has been my family. They’re very supportive of my decision to drop whatever I had before and taking this massive step. Moving to London means that I don’t see them as often as I’d like, and that’s certainly difficult. But I know that by doing this, I’m going to be a better man when I’m done, and my family can only benefit from that. Everyone has stepped up in my reduced presence, so I am freer to focus on this mission. I haven’t spent so long saving up and even taking student loans to get through this journey on a whim. I know many of my fellow mature students are put off by the costs (monetary and otherwise) of university and certainly living in London, but I don’t know what else to tell you other than asking you to see it this way: you’re investing. Not in stocks or property. But in yourself. The benefits and output generated by that are far beyond the realms of warranting a discussion filled with doubt.

I could go on and on about my experiences at KCL, but honestly, it’s different yet brilliant for everyone. I hope that you can see certain similarities between my story and yours and that this brings some clarity to the fog of uncertainty surrounding this journey’s beginning. You won’t regret your time here. The people here are genuinely at the top of their fields. They’re supportive and more importantly, they want you to succeed. That includes the teaching staff, the people working in the libraries or at the student union, the staff at the student services, in the canteen or ones in security, and everyone else that I haven’t mentioned. I don’t believe I can say that about many other places. I can about King’s.

 

Welcome.