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I am Jaime Gorman. I am 40 and came to BU from Colorado to study MLit (Hons) English. On day one, as excited as I was, sitting in a cluster of a couple of hundred 18-year-olds was initially very awkward. Not only was I literally old enough to be their mother, I felt culturally and academically uneasy. Balancing adult life concerns with my academic goals didn’t really fit with the dominating sense of partying and clubbing felt from many of the younger university population.

I wondered how I could I possibly fit in with such young students without looking like the “lame” adult trying to seem “cool” with the kids. Student interaction is integral to the university programme (especially as we have a multitude of group projects) yet at the same time, I’m at a completely different area in my life. What common ground would I be able to find other than my degree programme?

During an introductory lecture, I sat next to a quiet, shy girl who seemed almost petrified to be there. I realised at that moment that all the young people on my course were just as nervous as I was – but for different reasons. They were nervous about uni life, a concept and experience as yet unknown to them. Unsure how it would differ from their previous educational experiences or how they would fit in. Once I realised that they were feeling just as awkward as I was, I realised that age makes no difference in new experiences. No matter what our age or background, we each experience excitement and anxiety for new adventures in our own ways. It is that commonality which connects the mature students with the fresher beginners.

As mature students, we can offer our life experience, wisdom, and practical approaches to essays, speeches, research, and how to be best effective at time management. In return, the younger students can draw on our maturity to find their own courage and confidence, while providing us an alternate perspective on life and academia through the eyes of a different generation.

Ultimately, I have found being a mature student quite rewarding in that regard, and get along very well with my classmates. We each have found in each other the skills and talents that we can mutually share and learn from.