Making the choice to move away for university is daunting no matter your age, but as a mature student you may feel like you’re taking an even bigger step when there are so many misconceptions surrounding living in halls when you’re over the age of 21.
How are you supposed to focus on being yourself and enjoying uni if you’re worried about your accommodation and who you’re living with? As a mature student, you may assume that living in university halls is only for those fresh out of college or sixth form –but this simply isn’t the case. 2017-18 data showed that almost 60% of all undergraduates in the UK were aged over 21*. Although student accommodation is often associated with all-night parties and messy kitchens, there are actually many benefits to living in halls as a mature student.
We’ve broken down some of the biggest worries mature students may have – from too much noise to finding likeminded housemates.
*Calculated based on HE student enrolments by level of study 2017-18
What is a mature student?
The term ‘mature student’ is normally used to refer to people over a certain age who are studying at university.
What is the average mature student age?
You’re normally classed as a mature student if you’re 21 or over when you start your course. UCAS data suggests that just over half of mature students are aged 21-24, 38% are between 25 and 39 and 10% are over 40.
Can mature students stay in halls?
If you’re a mature student heading to university, there is nothing stopping you from applying to live in your university’s halls of residence. Being a mature student at university doesn’t necessarily mean you have more or less income to spend on privately renting, so choosing student accommodation where gas, electric and council tax are taken care of may be a preferable option. Living in halls also provides 24 hour safety, the opportunity to make new friends and a short commute to university lectures and seminars.
The misconceptions of living in halls as a mature student
YOU HAVE NO PRIVACY
University halls can sometimes feel overcrowded and you’ll probably need to share both kitchen facilities and living space. While living in halls is ideal for socialising and getting to know your housemates, if you’re someone who prefers a quiet environment, most universities offer studio flats and apartments which means that there will be fewer people sharing common areas. Many university rooms now have en-suite bathrooms as standard too – so if you’re fussy about your personal space, you won’t need to worry
THERE WILL BE TOO MUCH NOISE
One of the main downsides of university halls can be the level of noise, with walls typically being thin enough to hear everything going on both inside and outside. It can become a nuisance if you have young flatmates who are drinking and playing music before nights out, especially when you’re trying to sleep or study. But did you know that some universities have dedicated ‘quiet halls’ for those who don’t want to party hard? This type of accommodation tends to be popular with both mature and postgraduate students who prefer to spend their weeknights catching up on coursework or cooking dinner with friends. Of course, the quiet life may not be for everyone, and if you are seeking ‘party central’ there are plenty of halls to suit that lifestyle too!
I’M NOT GOING TO FIT IN
Many mature students worry they won’t find common ground with their younger housemates, but this is largely untrue. As long as you make an effort to integrate with those you live with (including possibly attending the odd party!), then the age barrier won’t be as big of a deal as you imagine it is. Also, if you’re the eldest in the group, you may find that people begin to look to you for advice – from studying to relationships and even cooking!
IT MAY NOT BE FUN
Just because you’re a mature student doesn’t mean you’re past wanting to have fun! University is designed to push your boundaries and provide new opportunities. For many people, a big part of the university experience is living in halls. No matter the type of halls you choose, it’s guaranteed to be an experience you’ll never forget!
Is it worth being a mature student?
Obviously it’s a good idea to think about how going to university as a mature student will blend in with your own life. For example, if you have children, will it affect your family’s daily routine? Can you afford to go? If you’re employed, what will it mean for your current position?
It’s also good to think about what you’ll get at the end of it. Are you on a new career path? Will your course advance your current career? Or are you heading to university purely for your own satisfaction and personal development? These are the types of things you can start thinking about.
Are there specialist mature student loans?
If you’re a mature student you’ll be able to apply for funding to help support your studies. There’ll be different options depending on your course, for example, whether it’s full time or part time. Head to the government’s website for more information!
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