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'Am I too old for Freshers?': Taking the plunge

Feeling worried you won't fit in as a mature student? A student whose been there and done it tells you why there's no need to worry.

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Sarah-Jane Hounsell is a Law Student Graduate and past President of Law Society (Cambridge). Here is her wisdom on the experience of being a mature student at university:


So you decided to come back to your education! Stomach in knots? Hands sweating? Thinking ‘What on earth am I doing?  I’m too old for this?’ Don’t worry you are not alone, we all felt like that! But trust us, welcome to the best three years of your life!  Too old?  Not a chance, lets show these young ones how it’s done.  From the first moment you walk through the doors and head up The Street, you are part of our family so grab your books and enjoy the ride…


The thing that really surprised me first off is that no one actually realised I was older. They were almost shocked when I said I couldn’t come to Rev’s or Lola’s that night as I was off out with my husband and children. They had not even noticed I was wearing a wedding ring. They are completely oblivious to it and just see you as another student who has just left home and come out into the big wide world. Take it as a compliment as it won’t be long before they are calling you Mum (even the ones older than you!)


Thinking Freshers fair is for the young ones? 

Oh no it is not! You have to go, if only for all the free stationary that you get, I have never brought a pen, highlighter or post-it tab since being at uni, plus you get to free Pizza and mocktails too!


I think the thing that stood out for me from Freshers’ was the buzz and excitement of all the students. Then, on a closer look, I realised students were not all 18 and that there were so many different clubs and societies I did not know which ones to choose at first.


Do not live on campus or in town so cannot get involved? 

Wrong! There are so many different things going on and yes a lot does happen at night but they happen in the day too or early evening. Lots of clubs and societies just meet for coffee, yes you heard me coffee, they accommodate for everyone and everyone’s needs. You see, you know your schedule for the whole term and so you can work out when you can and cannot go to an event.


Most mature students find they need to study on campus as they get distracted at home, I even put ear phones on to pretend I am listening to something but the little darlings still tug at me!  So I would arrange to stay in uni for the whole day and then pop along to an event after or in between. The more into your course you get the more you’ll get involved. Hey, I even ended up being a President of a Society in my second and third year.


What scared you as a teenager at school won’t scare you now

Hey, we all get nervous, but ask yourself how many times you have said ‘I wish I knew then what I knew now!’  Well now you do!  You will not be afraid to say ‘Sorry, can you repeat that’ or ‘I didn’t understand that’ because you know that you only have to ask. There is so much help and support across campus and it all starts with Students Union and Freshers’ fair.  It gives you a chance to really get a feel of what is going on, what support is out there and most importantly what you can do to chill and relax. The younger students never seem to get the balance quite right but mature students, well we own it!


So I say to you, many congratulations on making the decision to join our family at ARU. It gives me goose bumps and makes me smile with pride to be part of the Alumni and I hope you will look back in three years and feel the same way I do too. Just remember, help is always at hand, no problem is too big to resolve and if all else fails, head to the Academy, grab a cold one and be thankful you don’t have to worry about not having any ID on you!


Sarah-Jane Hounsell
9:36am on 11 Sep 17 Good luck Elaine & Tara! I like to think I'm 'extra mature'! You will have an amazing time at ARU and if for no other reason than the free stationary & pizza you have to go to freshers ?? I look forward to seeing you there.
Tara Phillips
5:48pm on 5 Sep 17 Hi this has reassured me too as I'm a very mature student starting an Msc at ARU, have booked for postgraduate meets but thought I'm too old for freshers T??
Elaine Mercer
6:37pm on 4 Sep 17 Like Sarah, I am a very(!) mature student with grown up children and have also appreciated this article! Having just completed a degree with the OU via distance learning, I am about to attempt a Masters at ARU. This article has encouraged me to give the Freshers fair a go. Thanks for your post too Sarah - it is good to know I am not alone!
Sarah-Jane Hounsell
6:59pm on 3 Sep 17 Congratulations Sarah on taking the plunge! Definitely go to freshers ~ I'm hoping to be there with the new Law Society committee so come say HI!
Sarah Mead
9:35am on 2 Sep 17 Thank you for writing such a very well-timed article, just what I needed to read! I'm just about to start a music degree and have been wondering how life as a (very) mature student is going to be. I have promised my 20 year old daughter that I won't go to Revs, but maybe I'll try the Fresher's fair.
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