Author Topic: being a mature student  (Read 29454 times)

redred

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being a mature student
« on: Jun 28, 2010, 12:42:40 PM »
i thought i might start a thread for all those of us who are returning to study and the changes that that throws up, expected or otherwise.

For myself, i'm adjusting to having zero spare cash. That's one thing i'd steeled myself for and it comes as no surprise but it isn't worry free. What i hadn't prepped for was feeling isolated. That's hit me quite hard, and i'm spending a lot of time during the day in my own company.

I hadn't really acknowledged the level of anxiety i would experience, either. This isn't helped by London Met being spectacularly sh*t at giving out information or organising anything. For instance, i have yet to be allocated an academic tutor, even though i've been pushing for one since i started in february. I learned last week that my course leader's contract is up and that's why he hasn't wanted to take anyone on. OK. What about me, my dissertation, my support? They cocked up my special exam conditions, too (i need a scribe due to RSI in my hands).

I had presumed there would be some kind of student community but there isn't, really. Each module i'm doing has different people on it and there's a complete mixed bag of part time and full time students with a high ratio of overseas students who have left London for the summer. I rarely see my class mates outside of our lectures. My previous postgrad had much more of a community feel.

The RSI means getting a summer job is problematic and really i shouldn't be using them. That would help re and being on my own but it isn't really practicable.

I was prepared for hard work, for two concentrated 15 week semesters of hard graft on a subject that is new to me. I had taken on the chin that i wouldn't be buying any new things or clothes. I just hadn't factored in the other stuff and it's harder to digest.

Lexx

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #1 on: Jun 28, 2010, 12:49:46 PM »
I will be starting my Social Work BA in oct, I am really not sure how it is going to be, but I am excited new challenge etc. I am worried how I will be seen by the rest of the class and may be the only mature student.

Sorry not really helped with your problems.

redred

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #2 on: Jun 28, 2010, 12:51:44 PM »
it's not meant to be a thread about my problems, i just thought i'd get the ball rolling..... i think it might turn into a 'what to expect' thread that could be helpful.....

Offline Miaow

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #3 on: Jun 28, 2010, 12:55:30 PM »

What are you studying Red Red?

I found what you say similar to wanting to do a PhD. I got a place at the Royal College of Art to do one last September. But the isolation of being a PhD student is too much I thought. I have postponed it until next year or so for now.
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redred

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #4 on: Jun 28, 2010, 01:35:30 PM »

What are you studying Red Red?


i'm doing an MA in housing and inclusion, a complete departure for me. Specialising in services for older people. I'm doing my dissertation on older LGBTQI Londoner's housing aspiration. It's full time until next May.

Offline tayto

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #5 on: Jun 28, 2010, 02:17:37 PM »
Hey redred

I empathise. I did an MSc as a mature (part time) student, which I completed in 2005.

The isolation was very difficult - if I hadn't previously known one of the others on the course, and studied closely with him, I wonder if I might not have completed the Master's at all.

I also had expectations regarding the standard of lecturing, how organised the university would be and so on. Eh. That was a bit of an eye opener really.

It was a hard slog - I found some of the technical material difficult, but more so the isolation. But. I finished it (and had a baby who was born on the day my thesis was due in!) and I will always be glad I did it.
Spoon Boy: Do not try to bend the spoon; that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon Boy: There is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, only yourself.
From "The Matrix".

kate b

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #6 on: Jun 28, 2010, 02:42:50 PM »
I'm a mature student for the second time around and right now (doing a BSc psych with the OU) struggling with some of the things you describe, too. It can be very isolating - even more so doing distance learning - and hard to stay motivated. And that's before even starting on all the screwed-up  issues re performance and achievement (although that's obviously personal to me).

Apart from better 'service delivery' from the Met in terms of tutor allocation, what do you think would make things easier for you>

skream

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #7 on: Jun 28, 2010, 03:04:55 PM »
i started an intro course, as a taster to doing an MBA about a year ago - i just couldn't find the time to do it. the key thing at the time was how getting to work really ate into a huge chunk out of my day - about 2 hours in total on a good day and about 2-3 on a bad day.

i am considering this again, as i don't intend to commute for an hour into work every day and back forever, courses can be done online, and it appears that more MBA courses are based heavily around sustainability issues in business - this is something i really find interesting and feel i can help to make a change in.

time is the most important thing for me here - hopefully in a year or two, my time will be more structured and i'm not all over the place due to work.

Offline animalnitrate

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #8 on: Jun 28, 2010, 04:54:59 PM »
I'm doing a BSc at the moment - part-time, and I guess therefore my experiences are most closely mirrored in what skream talks about - the issues of time constraints and competing demands.

For me, I've not found the experience isolating in the least - I guess this is probably down to the differences between an undergrad programme and a Masters, and also perhaps the nature of part-time study - virtually everyone on my course is a 'worker' in the first instance, rather than a student, so for example there isn't the situation of student flight in the summer months. There is - or at least feels to me - a big shared understanding, a kind of camaraderie - because it's fvck-off hard to work fulltime and commit to studying on top of that ; and it's fvck-off hard to come back to studying after years and years and years out. I almost feel a bit fraudulent describing myself as a mature student, I'm 22 - but I'm far and away the youngest in my class probably, and certainly within my immediate group of friends.

All of that said, though, about perhaps it being the undergrad / postgrad difference that affects the feeling of a student community, whenever I'm in the SU it seems to be overwhelmingly dominated by postgrad students. So maybe it really is just different attitudes at different unis, or something.

I do sometimes wonder about student support infrastructure within universities, and how they differ for mature / 'normal' students. I don't really have any pastoral stuff going on - I mean I technically have a tutor who I could go if I wanted, but I've not had any cause to and not felt particularly encouraged to do so. They're very upfront on this, saying that the feedback they've had is that grown-up people prefer to know it's there and access as they wish, rather than be booked in for however-frequently catch-up style meetings. And on the whole I'm cool with this, but once in a while I wonder if it's a bit too sink-or-swim. That said, the inclusion / financial support people / disability support people are absolutely first-rate and bl00dy inescapable.

I think there's a very vocal challenging of standards from students on my course - in terms of what they expect from lecturers, from the course structure, that sort of thing, which I think is perhaps quite particular to the mature student experience, and which is certainly beneficial. I absolutely love the environment it creates, too - some of the people in my seminars etc bring such a wealth to the debate, it sounds so naff to say it, but experience is just priceless, you know ? I've got guys who work at the Treasury, people who already have another different degree / university experience, the total amassed reading these people have done couldn't possibly be matched by a class of 18-year-olds. I love that. Monkey, I would be incredibly surprised if you're anywhere near the oldest or only mature student in your class, but in any event you'll probably end up being one of the most interesting students as a result.

I've written far too much.  :-[

Offline marzipan gnome

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #9 on: Jun 28, 2010, 05:16:48 PM »
animal - Sounds like my time at Birkbeck. Everyone was in the same boat. There was no mixing of part time and full time students and three quarters of the course was compulsory so we were together in lectures and seminars with the same folk most of the time. The options were only open to us law folk too so no strangers from other courses droppin in. But then Birkbeck is unique.

One of the problems Red is that London Met is totally broke after its guvner's totally screwed up the books and told big lies. Its a bit bums on seats for it undergraduate courses and maybe that filters through to the post grad stuff too?  I am only thankful that the pgce is such a specific thing we didnt get lumped together with every other course. 

Rosie

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #10 on: Jun 29, 2010, 06:00:23 PM »

What are you studying Red Red?

I found what you say similar to wanting to do a PhD. I got a place at the Royal College of Art to do one last September. But the isolation of being a PhD student is too much I thought. I have postponed it until next year or so for now.

Most PhD students aren't isolated; they are part of a vibrant community of research students who are encouraged to mix and network and who will attend various courses, seminars etc together as they progress along their PhD. It is the job of the Graduate School (or its equivalent) in the University to ensure that this happens. pgr experience is taken very seriously and externally assessed so universities have a duty to ensure that PhD students are not isolated. Obviously some aspects of the work do mean that you are following very individual research and working on your own - sometimes for long periods - but you shouldn't always be on your own, or feel isolated.

Rosie

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #11 on: Jun 29, 2010, 06:11:56 PM »
@ redred; what you describe isn't at all uncommon and I'm sorry to hear about it - my experiences, like your previous experience, have been of a really strong cohort who all contributed and engaged with the programme and each other in ways which enriched the experience.

There's not much you can do about the lack of group cohesion/group spirit etc etc but it does sound to me as though you are being seriously short-changed by your university on a practical front in terms of the things which they are duty bound to provide for you. That is appalling and you shouldn't have to put up with it. Students' union, student support, mature students' officer - there should be various bodies/persons around the university who are there to help ensure that students aren't getting short changed as you are. Don't let your course get away with this shoddy treatment. The things you mention are  a serious breach of the university's obligations to you in my view. Don't let them get away with it. You're making sacrifices to get on this course and paying fees etc - to be honest, it makes my blood boil when I hear if this kind of thing. As someone who is in charge of all post grad (pgt and pgr)programmes in my university I know what universities should be doing for students and your university sounds below standard to me.

On the other hand your dedication and attitude will no doubt carry you through regardless but a less confident candidate might fall by the wayside. It's not right.

Sorry for the little rant on your thread, redred but there really is no excuse.

petalponk

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #12 on: Jun 30, 2010, 10:00:49 AM »
Just wondering, as i was thinking of maybe going back to do some studying, but does anyone know of any websites etc. that are aimed at mature students?
I've been trying to find out whether i could get loans/grants and it's all aimed at kids!
Any help gratefully received. :)

Offline animalnitrate

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #13 on: Jun 30, 2010, 10:15:00 AM »
^ I think a lot of the www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance stuff is very very clearly applicable to mature students, though perhaps that depends on what you're looking at doing .. (What are you looking at doing ? Uni or something else ?)

I know this will obviously vary wildly from institution to institution, but I really can't stress enough how fantastically useful and accessible and going-the-extra-mile the finance office at my uni have been, since before I was even offered a place, so I would definitely contact the places you're looking at attending to get their advice too.

petalponk

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Re: being a mature student
« Reply #14 on: Jun 30, 2010, 10:27:58 AM »
i was looking at doing this http://www.eastridingcollege.ac.uk/courses?course=73 or this http://www.eastridingcollege.ac.uk/courses?course=72, so basically a 2 year btec.

Cheers for the advice i will get looking :)