You’re never too old to learn, study or train. In fact, statistics show the number of mature students – those aged 21 or over – starting first-time first degrees in the UK has been steadily rising during the past decade. In 2015 – 16 the number of mature students carrying out first degrees was 70,215, an increase of 2.9% compared to the previous year.
While re-entering education or training after a significant gap can be daunting and challenging, studying later in life as a mature student has a number of benefits compared to studying as a school or college leaver.
A defined career plan
Having taken time away from education and with work experience under their belt, mature students often have a clearer, more defined career plan compared to their college leaver counterparts. With a clearer vision of where they want their career to take them, mature students are often likelier to select qualifications and training which provides a decisive career path.
More motivation to study
A mature student typically goes back to study because they want to, and they are determined to get the qualifications they require for their chosen career. Often having to work around family and work commitments, returning to study after a break is a big, often life-changing decision.
Because of these reasons, students of more mature years can be more motivated to study hard and do well in their chosen subject compared to college-leavers who don’t have other such responsibilities and commitments.
Greater flexibility with entry requirements
Course providers welcome the skills, motivation, passion and experience mature students provide. They recognise that older students bring diversity to the course and often embark a course with a more questioning, inquisitive mindset.
As UCAS notes, it is because of these reasons that providers often offer more flexibility when it comes to admissions criteria and the types of learning programmes they offer.
Employers like mature students as they combine experience and education
It is not uncommon for graduates to struggle to find employment when they finish college or university. This is often because of the lack of experience many younger graduates have in the jobs market.
By contrast, mature students combine work experience and education. When applying for jobs in their chosen field, older graduates can provide reliable references and have the work experience as well as the qualifications, traits which many employers find favourable.
Mature student funding
It’s no secret that studying can be extremely expensive today with the average student on a three-year university course in London graduating with a debt of £35,000 - £40,000.
Finances can be a leading concern of individuals contemplating returning to education. Fortunately, there is financial support and assistance available for students of all ages.
Mature students can apply for student finance. The amount they receive is dependant on the type of course they are doing and their family situation. It is possible for mature students to get additional financial support if they have children.
From mid-career individuals looking for further development to those yearning for a complete change in career or even individuals who are retired and wanting to learn new things and skills, there’s never an optimum age to train or be educated. Being a mature student might be challenging but it comes with a myriad of unique advantages those studying at the younger, ‘conventional’ age are unable to benefit from.
Hadyn Luke, Director of CMS Vocational Training (CMSVOC).
CMSVOC offers a wide range of commercial and government funded apprentices and courses for people of all ages and backgrounds.