Top 10 Pitfalls of Being a Mature Student

Top Ten Pitfalls of Being a Mature Student

My first post on this subject (ten-reasons-why-you-can-go-back-to-uni-as-a-mature-student) received many views and RT’ s and it focussed on 10 reasons why you CAN go back to Uni as a mature student. In order to give you a balanced view of life as a mature student here are my TEN pit falls.

1.Can you teach an old dog ‘new tricks’

Mature students, unlike fresh young students come to further education with a set of pre-conditioned ideas. Your views are shaped and moulded by your experiences of life and in some ways this is a benefit for mature students however it can also be a hindrance. Just like the driving instructor who struggles to teach his pupil ‘how to drive’ after having 30 lessons with their dad. Mature students sometimes struggle to absorb new and fresh idea. Life can taint your view. There is an old Tao saying that ‘in order to fill your cup you must first empty it ‘and sadly some mature students do not grasp this.

2. No Energy

Gosh I wish I could have the energy I had in my twenties whilst I am in my 40’s. Sadly it is not there any more. Mature students have extra responsibilities and many work, raise families and indeed do a full shift before even leaving home in the morning. Taking care of yourself must be at the top of your list if you pan to embark on a life of study.


Many mature students have families and children. The additional struggle that faces these mature students is broader than those of the younger student. Whilst young students focus is on themselves and handing in that piece of course work by the due date. Mature students have children, school, work, and all of the responsibilities that go with it. Making sure you have the packed lunches ready, new school shoes, parent’s nights, child care organised. Being a mature student requires excellent project management skills because you have to juggle many projects at the same time. Children don’t care if you have an essay due in , dinner needs to be bought, prepared and they deserve to be put first (in my case they always are).

4.No Money
This is a tough one. Get used to having no money. Get used to it very quickly and get used to having debt. It’s a fact. The good thing is you are not alone.

Ok, so I set out to write about the 10 pitfalls yet when I get as far as no 4 I think …..Wait there are no more. What are you waiting for? Life is for living and for learning. Never mind the pitfalls think of the adventure…….

I have really enjoyed life as a mature student and I returned to study in 2004 at the University of Glasgow. I graduated with LL.B (Hons) in 2009 and just coming to the end of the DipLP (Diploma in Legal Practice) and start my journey as a trainee solicitor very soon.
If I can do it you can – Pitfalls – Bah they are history. DO IT ANYWAY

Michelle L Hynes
LL.B (Hons)DipLP

5 thoughts on “Top 10 Pitfalls of Being a Mature Student

  1. I am weighing up the pros and cons of returning to uni. Also being a mum of two girls, I find it intriguing how you juggle single-handedly, studies and motherhood. It is about how badly you want to pursue a chosen line of work, taking the struggles as a new challenge and a necessary evil.


    • Hi Michelle
      As you are also a mum , then you are used to juggling many projects. Studying is much the same.Whilst doing my undergrad LL.B I treated it like a full time job. I dropped off my lil eagle at nursery at 8.00am and worked at Uni till 5pm everyday , even if I didn’t have classes.
      I completed most , if not all of my course work during normal working hours. When I collected the children and came home to prepare dinner I spent my time doing what all mums do , going to the park, laundry and dinner and homework with kids.

      Once they went to bed and were settled down for the night I got into the habit of reading for at least 1 hour EVERY night , even on the weekends.
      It became a routine.
      If you deal with studying as If it is a job ( and you may already been working full time) then it is possible just as many mums work full time , it is just that we fill our day without a ‘boss’- we are our own boss and gosh you do have to be disciplined and stick to your study plan.

      I was determined from day 1 to MAKE it work for me and my girls and as I draw towards the end of my time at University – (I have been studying since 2004) I look back with very fond memories and NO regrets whatsoever.

      Another top Tip I learned along the way is to ‘clear your desk’.Many Students take ages drafting an essay then , sit on it for a while going back and perfecting it and making many adjustments and getting themselves stressed with achieving an A1 or an A 2 .
      My philosophy was always to never put pen to paper until I had thought the question through. Then ‘think again’ then ‘Think again’
      and once I was sure I could think about the question no more I wrote the answer and handed it in. I cleared my desk and moved on.
      When I was writing my 10,000 word dissertation in 2009 I watched as all my peers wrote masses of chapters and drafts and re-draft getting themselves stressed even more. I on the other hand ‘Thought about the question’ and Read . The I read some more. I didn’t put pen to paper ( apart from skeleton outlines for the chapters) until 10 days before it was due.

      I then asked my parents to have my girls for a weekend,booked a room at the University and put on some classical music and in two days I wrote my dissertation from scratch.I handed it in a week early. I was delighted t also get a great mark.

      Being a mature student gives you a different outlook. You can achieve what ever you choose to, what ever your reasons.

      It takes patience and discipline but you must enjoy what you do along the way .

      Make it work for you.

      Good luck in your studies and Go for it.



  2. Really inspirational post! It almost makes me want to go back to college but I’m starting a new business so that is my focus for the next couple of years. As a working mum, I think your response comments are great. You need to be focused and find a way to make your work fit in around your kids needs and you need dedication to make that work. I’m sure, with your great attitude and determnation, you’ll be fantastically successful.


  3. Bit of a belated comment, but have only just come accross this post.
    I really admire you for your commitment to full-time study. I’m in my mid-thirties and about to qualify, but I did four years of study (CPE / LPC) on a part-time basis whilst working. The former I did as an evening course and the latter as a weekend course. One of the best things about both courses is that they tended to attract a really diverse range of students, not simply more “mature” but with a variety of different backgrounds and nationalities. Of course, the real benefit was that I was earning throughout (see your point 4 above) which means that although I am relatively late in qualifying and my salary has stayed relatively low, at least I am not burdened with the huge sums of debt that so many NQs have.


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