The second week into student life, and am positively buzzing with excitement (all be it still full of nerves). Been through a rollercoaster of emotions, due to lots of changes happening, but I am ending this week on a good note – university is a great place to be.
Would I have said that to you when I was last studying at university level? No.
Why? Because I was not in the right place for me to fully connect with the experience. That along with the fact it just wasn’t the course for me.
For so long now, I have drilled in the belief that not fitting in, with the normal age group of students at university, would make me an ‘outcast’ so to speak. That those who are younger than me would not want to get to know me and spend time with me. Yet, already I have gained friends, which I have shared lunch and breaks with, as well as creating a WhatsApp group (you know things are going good when a WhatsApp group has been made). So this has completely opened my view of how different university life is compared to my previous perception of it.
When I was in hospital the first time round, I forced myself out (and the services let me go regardless of my state of mind) just so I could attend college when everyone else started back. But I wasn’t ready. So I became worse, and had to withdraw for a year. Going back the following year, I couldn’t help but feel as though I will always one step behind. After somehow completing those two years, I spent that summer in hospital once again. Unavailable to start university as I was unable to leave this time. So once more, I was left behind, knocked back and began to truly believe “I will never make it”.
One thing must be said that this opinion is not a reflection on anyone else but myself. I have always opposed being anything other than the ideal on myself, yet for others I couldn’t be happier for them. This lack of self-esteem has held me back over many circumstances. Hence why this application has come as such a surprise not only to myself, but loved ones around me.
So how did I suddenly become able to go to university four years older than I was ‘suppose’ to? It is to do with something that can only come with age, experience and exploration of the mind. Growth. Personal growth.
I am thankful for the hardships, for as much as they pained me. They have allowed me to see my true potential, discover what I really believe in and to strive for those dreams that have become my passion and soul focus in life.
By being older than the ‘norm’, it gives you the awareness of how important your time at university is, even more so than when you were younger. By having that experience of life outside the education sector, you have gained a stronger sense of what life can be like for you, and what opportunities are out there waiting for you to grasp hold of. If you are like myself, personal issues can prevent studying taking place, but that doesn’t mean it is never going to happen. By overcoming those battles, you are bound to be stronger, and more determined than ever to pursue what you want in life.
Fortunately, psychology does attract more students who have this take on education, and value the knowledge and skills that further studies can give you. So I do feel more content because I am surrounded by like-minded people.
However, it has to be said, just because I have gained a little more maturity, doesn’t mean that I am not up to have fun. When opportunities come up, I will jump at the chance to get stuck in and be involved! Nothing can replace those memories that you share with others on your course, and I don’t want to miss out on anything that I like the sound of. It is a chance to let go, unwind and be myself around peers away from the lecture theatre.
So my tips for any of you who are thinking of heading to university at a later stage in life, then here are a few pieces of advise I would like to share:
- Go for it – do not hold back because of your age, there is room for everyone at university and you would be a valuable asset to other students who may not have gained a lot of life experiences yet. There is no set age as to when you should go to study at university level, it all comes down to when YOU ARE READY!
- Be prepared to get involved – anything that takes your fancy, get involved. I am already looking at joining a few different societies and groups, because it is a way of getting to know different areas of the university as well as making new friends. Plus it is a chance to try something completely different. Who knew they had a ‘Theme Park Society’?!
- Talk, Talk, Talk – connection with peers, tutors and lecturers is key! The more you talk with people, the more engaging they are likely to be back with you. After all we are all human beings, they may feel exactly like you.
- Just be yourself – for as much as you may believe that you won’t be liked, or be ‘cool enough’ to hang around with, you will be surprised at how many others are in a similar boat to you.
Hope this helps someone else out there who is weighing up the pros and cons of making this big decision, and that it encourages you to have an experience of a lifetime (seriously buzzing for all the memories I am going to have!) If any of you have experienced this then I would love to hear from you too.