Adjusting to Life as a Mature Student
Date 5 October 2022
A brief into the beginning life as a mature student; my fears (the fear of failure?), travelling to university, student support, summary of my time at university.
When my youngest started Reception year at school, I was prepared to return to my studies and very keen to add knowledge to my personal development. Little did I know how emotional student life would be as a mother, a mature student, and an international student, because I was born in Romania and my primary and secondary years were taught there. Research done, university approved, my previous teaching roots got me into the Early Years Childhood degree – yes excited, but nervous too and much of unknown fear.
My fears – the fear of failure?
I’m a proud British citizen and fluent in the language, but the prospect of reading and writing at a higher level in English filled me with dread. There were many additional concerns that I had, such as whether I would be able to keep up with my younger peers and complete all of my assignments. Suppose I don’t do well on the assessments; what then? And the worst dread of all was failure as a parent, as I believed that the studies I so much desired would interfere with my parental responsibilities, so setting me up to fail instead of advance. These anxieties haunted me for days in my first year, especially having to drop my precious children off at breakfast clubs and pick them up from afterschool clubs. Albeit just three days a week, my responsibility as a parent, having to leave them in school for prolonged hours so I may be on time to my modules (as commitment is one of my strengths), didn’t allow me to fully enjoy my studies.
Traveling to university
Travelling to and from uni were the hardest and longest journeys ever – instead of enjoying the silence or the driving, as the journey took over an hour on busy mornings and about forty minutes in the evenings, I was feeling and experiencing all the failures, in my head and cried it out. I’m an emotional person, and I easily cry, but this became too much of a struggle for me. I realised it was time to change something as this was not the excitement I started with and was not the fear of a new beginning anymore – it was something deeper, because it was also affecting me while the tutors were teaching us the different modules. Was I now experiencing traumas from my childhood while I was more aware of the childhood literature and was I starting to have a deeper understanding of the importance of a kind child guardian?
As the taught lessons were now affecting me emotionally, my tutors were starting to acknowledge my struggles and my personal tutor offered me help and support and most importantly, offered me time to chat about it all. And that was the guidance that I needed, that was the change that I was going to implement to improve my mental health and to happily absorb knowledge in order to strengthen my capabilities and skills. My emotional behaviour needed to be addressed. Yes, it’s not as easy to be a mature student, yet the most important thing is to be aware that something isn’t right and ask for help. Communication is the key, and this is something that the University of Northampton was spot on with. I couldn’t have done it without my tutor’s support and the counselling team that is offered for free. With that being said, I strongly encourage everyone to speak up – don’t hold it inside for long, as it’s harder to heal.
To summarise, the University of Northampton has shaped the person I am today – a lot stronger and more confident in my abilities, added to my knowledge of early years. Even the journey to and from the University was, in the end, a pleasure to clear my head or to listen to some live streamed modules. The team has challenged me sometimes and that added to my strengths as a motivated student, to always thrive higher and balance life better, as well as motivating me to continue my studies to Master’s level, which I did. That’s another story to tell!
Therefore, being a lifelong learner has been satisfying and fulfilling. I’m a better role model and a better listener and it has made me more curious about academia – there’s so much more I want to know! Personal development can only make us stronger, kinder, better – keep smiling and never give up, aim high!
Daniela Laslau is a mother of two and a lifelong learner who strives to set a good example for others and educate herself, so that she can be a role model and an inspiration to everyone around her, with a positive and encouraging attitude