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michelle-lillywhiteAs I near the end of my course I am starting to be asked – has it been worth going to university? Without hesitation I offer a resounding YES! But as a mature student your experience isn’t all about the night life (although we have been known to take part at times!).

Indeed the sacrifices we make as mature students are very different to those of someone coming straight from A-levels, as our lives will have already taken different twists and turns as we inevitably get older. So when we do take the plunge and head into academia we are investing a lot more – and I don’t think this is a bad thing to point out.

I gave up a reasonable job and social life to undertake what has been an amazing three years but I am all too aware that this could have gone a different way!

At BU however, there is a huge student body of mature students – we may be the minority but only just! The support and opportunities have not been hindered by my age at all – in fact it is my age that has spurred me on to make the absolute most of everything university life has to offer.

Michelle ambassador

You can be a Student Ambassador and speak to other prospective students at Open Days and Higher Education Fairs. I have had two amazing international opportunities of attending an International Social Work Conference in Austria last year where I made some amazing friends both young and old(er). I also, with two other mature students, went to Colombia in 2014 for a month long internship working in a nursery in an area of deprivation in Medellin.


I have been able to complete the Student Development Award and achieve a Distinction (go me!), plus be a Peer Assisted Learning Leader for my colleagues in the first year and share my experiences about being a student.

None of these had anything to do with my age but I like to think, my attitude. At any age university is what you make it and here at BU everyone is encouraged to take part in as much as they want to.

Your degree might be laid out for you over the next three years, but what you get from university life is up to you! However you tackle it, however hard and stressful it might be at times we have a saying here which says it all –  #BUproud!

By Michelle Lillywhite

One Response to “A mature student’s perspective”

  1. Maureen Coffey

    I have long thought that in tertiary education, ages should be much more mixed than is regularly the case. However, there is still an “upper bound” when it comes to outright pensioners reentering the university system. While everyone talks about life-long learning, under “the hood” there is a bias towards “well as long as it still furthers a potential career”. We still may have a long way to go until it becomes a right taken for granted to study in every phase of one’s life …


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