Kerry found that the life experience she had before starting her course provided extra motivation.
As a mature student with a background of working in community settings helping parents and their children, I know that my choice of course is right for me. That doesn’t mean that my decision to follow a career in children’s nursing has been easy, but waiting until this point in life means that I’m far more motivated than I was as a school leaver and therefore far more likely to commit to the course for its entirety.
Many mature students feel they are swimming upstream, fighting the flow of family life, financial commitments and working all hours to keep food on the table, while also having to tackle assignments and juggle day and night shifts on placement. This means that for some, dropping out is unavoidable. Personal circumstances ultimately have a role to play in whether you are able to continue studying. The same is true for students of all ages and this is clearly why it is still so difficult for universities to identify those who are at high-risk of dropping out.
As a mature student with an unconditional offer of a place on the course of my choice, I couldn’t wait for first year to start. I had visions of all night parties at the freshers’ fairs, dancing the night away and earning my student stripes by nursing post-party hangovers.
Then university started and reality hit.
Those dreams were quickly replaced by the reality of not just being a student, but also being a Mum and wife. There were certainly late nights but those were spent caring for my own children as they battled various bouts of teething or snotty noses. There was the odd hangover – but this was only induced by guzzling copious amounts of wine on the weekend to find some level of relief. I quickly learned that hangovers were best left to the younger students!
But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have found a new lease on life, my classmates are an amazing group of individuals from such diverse backgrounds that I cannot help but think how lucky I am to be a part of such a life changing experience. I may be 34 but at times I quickly forget that I’m not just another student trying to get the most out of the university experience - age really is just a number.
As the first year of university draws to a close and I start to prepare myself for second year, I still feel that familiar surge of excitement about what’s to come. Fellow students are reconnecting after the summer break and information about freshers’ fairs and exciting parties are being advertised across the university’s social networks. Emails are popping into student inboxes far and wide, welcoming and informing us about the life we’re about to resume.
I can’t wait to go back, maybe this year I’ll even go out partying…
Kerry Wilson is in her 2nd year studying children’s nursing at Bucks New University