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Why I Decided to go to Uni

Steph Williams Student Life

I was studying a business course at college and had the chance to visit Northumbria University, I declined the offer and had a day in college finishing tasks for my portfolio instead.

Article _Mature -Student _In Page 350At this point I was in my 7th year of further education due to a change in career path and I had had enough, I just wanted to get a job I enjoyed and start earning some money. I couldn't imagine starting university and climbing the higher education ladder, starting yet again, from the bottom.

At the time one of my college modules was based on my career path so I had to research universities and courses I might apply for had I decided to go. I started thinking about what it was I would be happy doing as a job for years to come and found that the digital marketing area would be the route for me as I had a little experience and it was something I loved doing. I was researching different courses for a while and got the information for a few I might have applied for had I decided to go down that route.

The deadline for applying was mid January 2015 and even weeks past this date I was adamant I was not going to university. I didn't want to have the debt of student loans or to have been in further/higher education for 11 years (that just sounded depressing), I love being around my family and couldn't imagine moving away and I also didn't think I had what it takes to succeed at university with all the academic writing and strict deadlines etc.

It got to mid February and I had been reading up on some of the courses I had researched for my college work and had found one that actually sounded pretty good. I found myself scrolling through the course on the university's website and looking at what modules would be covered over the years etc. I kept thinking “I'll just have a quick read of this” and “Oh, I wonder if there is any funding available?” I ended up watching videos of accommodation tours and reading about the different societies the university was home to. I could feel myself slowly but surely changing my mind about the idea of applying, I mean, I had nothing to lose so why not see if I'd be accepted. I kept thinking “if I don't do it now, I never will”.

By this point it was the end of February and I was sure there were no places left on the marketing course but, I had written a first draft personal statement and filled in most of my UCAS forms so there was no going back now.

Over the next couple of weeks I was completing online forms and perfecting my personal statement, I was applying much later than the majority so I had to really 'sell myself'. It was mid March when I hit 'submit', I did have some backup courses on my application, but just 2 days after applying I received an email from Northumbria University offering a place on their Marketing Management course. I'm so glad I changed my mind.

Now I do have some advice for you, whether you're 21 or 40+ it is never to late to start university. If its something you want to do, go for it.
That being said, if you think you're never going to go to university, don't rule it out completely. I had almost ruled it out, had I not completed a module relating to my career path whilst in college I might not have applied.

I have included some questions and answers below with links to different information including a guide from UCAS for mature students, check it out.

I want to go to university but I’m not sure if I can afford it, what should I do?

The only money you'll have to pay before you get any of your loans/grants is a deposit for accommodation (provided you're staying in student accommodation) the deposit is usually £250 but can vary between universities so be sure to check. Start saving early if possible, then when it comes to securing a place in student accommodation you've got money there ready. Other money you'll need to begin with will be for about 3-4 weeks when you first start university. This will need to cover food & drink, entertainment, travel (if needed) and possibly a number of books relating to your chosen course (although, chances are you could wait until you have your loan to pay for these as they can be quite expensive).

I'm a mature student going to university and will be staying in student accommodation, will I be housed with young students?

I also wondered this when applying, vast majority of the time you will be housed with people of a similar age, as this will hopefully give you a better experience and allow you to become friends with your flatmates quite easily. My flatmates ages range from 21-23 so we're all pretty much in the same boat in terms of life experience and attitude to study etc. If you're still unsure send the university a quick message on social media or by email.

I am applying for university but don't have anyone to ask for help and I don't know where to start. How do I apply?

UCAS has an excellent guide with lots of information for mature students such as how to apply, examples and information on writing your personal statement, student finance advice, what course to study and lots more, find the guidehere

Am I too old to start university?

Definitely not. I'm in my early twenties and thought I was maybe a bit old, I was definitely wrong. I have met do many people since starting just 3 months ago, a lot of whom are older than me. Don't decide not to apply because you think you're too old, chances are there's someone studying who's much older than you.

What is UCAS?

UCAS stands for The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It is a UK based organisation whose main role is to operate the application process for British universities.

Will I be able to cope with the workload?

If you keep organised and study regularly you shouldn't have a problem keeping up with the workload. Try and get January submissions handed in before you leave for Christmas/ Winter break, that way you'll be able to enjoy your time off without having to worry about a hand in date that's 2 days after you get back. It also means you'll stay (slightly more) relaxed.

Are there any part-time jobs available during my studies?

Depending on the kind of work you're looking for will depend on the jobs available. There will be a lot of students looking for jobs so you should start looking early. The university might have a handful of jobs available across its departments but it is likely that the town center and surrounding areas have many more to choose from.

I have never had to use referencing in any work I have completed, is there information on how to do this?

 Yes, there will be a lot of people who have not referenced before and there will be information available. If you cant find any online or in the library just ask your course leader, they'll be more than happy to help. Make sure you're using the same referencing style as your university as there are a few to choose from.

How does student finance work?

 There are 3 parts to student finance.

  • Tuition Fee Loan (Usually £9000 a year). You will not see this money, it bypasses you and goes straight to the university from student finance. If you have not studied at this level before you are entitled to this loan.
  • Maintenance Loan (Means tested). The amount you receive is based on your household income. If you are over 25 OR have been working for 3+ years your parents income is not taken into account. Everyone is entitled to a minimum amount.
  • Maintenance Grant (Means tested). This is a non-repayable sum based on your household income. If you come from a high-income household you may receive no grant.


Check out the UCAS website - there is so much information available. Watch the videos on the website and find as much information as possible about your personal statement as this is the part that has to have quite a bit of thought put into it.

I'm a mature student who has been studying for 3 months at Northumbria University. I had decided I was not going to university but through researching the course I was interested in and having the courage to step out of my comfort zone I changed my mind. This was one of the best decisions I have made to date and I can't imagine not going through with it.

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