Saturday 17 April 2021

Coping with university

Charlotte shares her experience attending university as a mature student despite mental health struggles

-Charlotte Juggins

I didn't think I would ever go to university. At the age of eighteen, I was struggling with my mental health and began seeking help. I had the pressure of my college, asking what I was going to do when I left and I had applied for university in case I had a change of heart over the summer, despite not really knowing what exactly I wanted to do. I still felt like I was too young to know what was next. I had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when I was in my last year of college. This really clouded my thought process when thinking about my life post-college.

What I came to realise in the years after this is that I had to take time in finding where my passions were. I was twenty-one when I worked in a management position which exposed me to Human Resources. After a few months, I realised it was the direction I wanted my career to go in. That is what led me to go to university last year, at the age of twenty-three. I felt proud of myself for pushing forward and finally taking this step to study a subject that really interests me. However, I was also nervous about my age. I had thought of it as a good thing as I had the prior experience to give myself that confidence within my work. The only thing was that I was concerned I'd be seen as 'too old' to be there. I had heard this from a lot of people, including friends of mine, who were mature students.

The way I started to see it, as first semester began, was an opportunity for me to get back into an academic environment where I could learn new skills. Although I think about this in a positive way, I do have moments where I feel a sense of shame. Other people my age have full-time jobs, or an actual career that they are progressing in or they have their own flat or have bought a house. They seem many steps ahead of me, despite being the same age. I have spent a lot of time second guessing my decision in going to university as an older student and wonder if it is too late. Despite these feelings, I have realised that it is never too late. If you are chasing your passion and are driven towards a career goal, then you should do it. It is true when they say 'life is too short' and that we should be doing things that make us happy. I never want to be stuck in a job that makes me unhappy and I want to make real changes with my degree and knowledge once I graduate. University will come with some low points where my mental health will suffer and I will feel stressed. But I need to push through it. 

Visit Student Space for further support. Explore online resources, access direct support via text, phone, web chat or email and find the support available at your place of study. 

My name is Charlotte, I study BA Business and Human Resource Management and I am a mature student.

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