Prior to applying to DIT as a mature student, I followed many others and searched the internet for any information I could get my hands on in regards to what it will be like as a mature student. Unfortunately, the results I collected were not related to me whatsoever and a lot of my worries and fears remained.
I applied at age 23 to return to education and the only information I could find was to do with the stereotypical mature student. The one that sits up the front of the class, always asks questions and always brings up the topic of their age at any chance they get. We are all familiar with them. Now all mature students go through the same fear and worry no matter what age, prior to their course start date, and you can find support groups for that on various forums online. But the actual life of a mature student at different stages of life has been overlooked. The different situations and state of minds that each age group could be in have been skipped and have subsequently all been grouped together into a single stereotype.
I’ve not seen an article discuss mature students aged under 30 in detail and I’ve not seen any discussing what any mature students go through to get to where they are, except one specific story.
That story is about the usual suspect we have all become too familiar with, they have lost their job in the last year or so due to the economic crisis and the need to be re-educated, or the person whose industry has failed also due to the ongoing crisis and needs to get into a new industry because his or her experience is now inapplicable.
These mature students are said to be enriching in the classroom and bring a lot due to their life experience but not all mature students have life experience. Not all mature students coming from this same background have more life experience than a school leaver in some cases, they’ve just lived longer.
Comments in articles or forums with advice or stories about mature students, always write about how diligent, more enthusiastic and more inquisitive mature students are. I don’t think this is always the case. Definitely not for the majority of those mature students aged 23. When you return to education aged 23 you still feel like a school leaver. You don’t feel like you’ve lived an adult life in the last couple of years since your leaving cert no matter what you’ve done between then and now.
Mature students aren’t always those who have lost their job in recent years due to the economic crisis. This is a mature student mostly overlooked that has left school like everyone else, completed their leaving certificate, didn’t want to go to university straight away because they had no idea what they wanted to do. They then tried to get a job instead of going straight into education but failed, again and again, because they had no “experience” and places that they applied to did not want to waste money training them and paying them the correct wage. This eventually led to these young people becoming so anxious that even the thought of applying to education after all those fails would make them sick.
The application to become a mature student happens, for this type of mature student, after years of trying to rebuild their former confident self that they were in secondary school. This can even be applied to those who lost jobs and couldn’t get another one for a good few years before returning to education. The reason mature student dropout rates are so low is because of this journey they go through, especially the younger age groups. The ones that are forgotten or overlooked and are not a part of this statistic because some had applied before, intended to apply before or didn’t finish the application. Some never even showed up after applying or didn’t finish the application because of fears that they will fail. Those that do get there, eventually, may have been through the application once before or even thought about it but never went through with it due to the fears and worries caused by being overlooked, because they didn’t follow the traditional route and there is barely any information relating to them because of the choices they made.
With this article and hopefully many more I’d like to bring to your attention the sides and the lives of mature students and their experiences that have not been touched upon yet or have been overlooked entirely, the forgotten mature students that would rather not ask questions in class and the mature students that aren’t mature enough yet.