A mature student is someone who is coming to tertiary study for the first time without following the usual high school
Generally this term applies to people over the age of 25, though various places have all sorts of little clauses in the definition: tertiary study for the first time at 24 or older is the clear-cut example in New Zealand, because you can no longer be considered supported by your parents at 24 (and they don’t asset test your parent’s income when granting a student allowance). The key thing to remember is that mature students are in their mid-20’s or older, and they have not just left school.
Being a mature student can be a rather difficult experience. At the university I’ve attended, mature students apparently made up 60% of the enrolled students,
yet we were all treated like shit by the 18-21 demographic. The older you are, the more they hate you (and if you are 25, usually no-one notices). Why? Well, mature students are commonly considered to be people in their 40’s, and I suspect that the words “mature student” make most of the little shits here suddenly experience a sudden fear that they will be told to sit up straight and tidy their rooms.
Another absolutely classic line I’ve been told about by someone doing sociology is that it’s unfair that mature students “Have all this life experience” – that’s right, it’s unfair to have experienced things beyond secondary school and drinking oneself into a stupor every weekend. The obvious answer to this is that if a twenty-two-year old feels academically disadvantaged because they have not gotten married at eighteen, had four children, been divorced, lost their home, and had to do menial jobs for fifteen years, then they can fuck right off into the real world and come back later when they have some life experiences.
There are some crappy mature students, to be sure. However, I have never had one threaten to kill me as I walked out of a lecture. I’ve never seen a group of them blocking a doorway out of a lecture theatre while having a conversation1. I have also never had a mature student scream at me across a large courtyard when I kiss my girlfriend goodbye. “Maturity” is not always simply referring to age, despite what some may think.
There are things about mature students that people forget: They take the same varied workloads as everyone else (full, part or whatever-time), and they have the same problems every other student does (money, accommodation, money). Some mature students also have to deal with family - children, partners (either making a relationship work, or doing all the work), and sometimes both. Sometimes family issues includes include caring for their parents as well. Many will be working while they study, and that’s also the same as for the younger students2.
What is part of the experience is that you’re in a minority (even if collectively mature students make up 60% of the student population). This means, as many in similar positions could tell you, that it’s minority representation. The University does not show mature students on its promotional material, nor does it mention it has significant numbers of them. The student union (this is the only university in the country where the student union has mandatory membership) acknowledges mature students, but doesn’t want them all showing up at student functions3. This is similar to the experience of many minority groups, but unfortunately so many of the mature students will not take this experience on board and reflect on it – as they move on they will simply replicate these attitudes on other groups (or, rather, continue behaving as they always have) and forget they experienced some degree of discrimination in their lifetime.
- Never block the swing side of double doors that only open one way. It’s probably the only thing those idiots learned at university.
- Though from what I see, it’s more likely that mature students will have jobs, since they have usually come to university from the workforce they sometimes find it easier to get work, or be able to scale back their hours when they start their studies.
- They are afraid we will dance like their parents, demand that Barry Manilow perform at the orientation week concert, and that there be Matlock viewings every week in the theatre.