By Molly Doyle
Attending University for the first time, whether fresh out of college or as a mature student, can be intimidating, as you are heading into a new chapter of your life. Whether you feel like you won’t fit in with the other students, or you have other responsibilities and you feel you might struggle to keep up, attending university can certainly be challenging! I spoke with Helen, a mother of two in her second year of a law degree, to ask how she was finding university and what advice she had for someone thinking of starting a law degree.
Below are the questions and answers she gave during the interview.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO GO TO LAW SCHOOL SO LONG AFTER BEING OUT OF EDUCATION?
My second child was due to start nursery and I felt like I was at a crossroads with what to do next. I met with a friend who works at a university to discuss the possibility of going back to school and getting a degree and, having always wanted to get a law degree, I decided it would have been then or never - either take the opportunity or go back to work.
WHAT WORRIED YOU ABOUT GOING BACK TO UNIVERSITY?
While I didn’t have many reservations, my main issue would be attending a university environment outside the ‘normal’ age. There is a big difference between someone in their early 20’s and someone in their 30’s, and I feared that the mindset between the generations would be vastly different. However, there will always be people you connect with regardless of age.
HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT APPLICATIONS AND FUNDING?
Funding is more widely available then what there used to be not so long ago. Now there are bursaries, student finance and sometimes even scholarships available. I went to my local college for information and they advised me on the whole application process, from UCAS applications, to what student finance is, to the information I needed to start a search for a suitable university.
WHAT’S YOUR SUPPORT NETWORK LIKE?
Universities are improving their available support for mature students despite them not being their ‘target’ group. There can be problems on an institutional level, but the staff go above and beyond to help with a problem, are so supportive and try their hardest to help. That being said, it is always good to have a plan in place and a good support network around you.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT UNIVERSITY?
I’ve had quite a few nice experiences, having gone through university now. I’ve met people who I wouldn’t have otherwise met and my confidence has grown, having been out of the workplace for so long. Sometimes as a stay at home wife and mother it can be easy to forget who you are. I’ve gained my individuality back. At university you can be yourself without restrictions, without hiding who you are, and people accept you for that.
ANY ADVICE FOR POTENTIAL MATURE LAW STUDENTS?
You are never too old to learn or too old to go to university! If you didn’t go the first time around that doesn’t mean you should never go, the opportunity is there. If you put in the work and the effort, you’ll fly through and love it.