First of all I don’t really like the “Mature Student” status as that also implies a certain amount of sensible behaviour and sounds very “boring”! Studying at 50 is anything but that!
In January 2018 at 50 years old, I decided to go back to fulltime study and chose to do a Level 7 Digital Marketing Course (I didn’t know entirely what Level 7 meant, but now I know it means a shit load of work crammed into an awfully short space of time with ridiculous deadlines). When I commenced study, I was working as a Marketing Manager and my employers agreed to give me one-day a week study leave, and I also attended college two nights a week. I had recently moved in with Pistol (having met 4 months earlier), and Pistols life was turned upside down as “Olive” also came complete with 3 teenagers (oh joy)!! So, it was a new relationship, new studies, moving into a new area, and the kids were all trying to settle into new situations as well.
Make sure that you keep your Student Card valid for that 1 time when you remember can to use it….
I was particularly excited at the thought of having a “Student Card” and getting lots of discounts as obviously not old enough for a Seniors concession card! The funny part of that is I only once remembered to use it, and that was to book tickets for the theatre. On the way to the theatre I realised that mine had expired and Pistol didn’t have his on him. We went for a pre-theatre drink and upon collecting our tickets we were supposed to show our student ID! At this point we had to say, that we had let them expire and forgot them at home. The look on the young ticket sellers face was incredulous to say the least, but he obviously felt sorry for the “poor, forgetful, probably dishonest couple” in front of him, and he smiled knowlingly and gave us our tickets at student prices. The really embarrasing part after that, was that I was by now a little tipsy and left Pistol in the queue buying more wine whilst I went to the loo. Between going to the loo and finding Pistol in the foyer again, I had managed to lose the tickets and had to go back to the Ticket Office and ask them if anyone had handed them in!!!! Luckily they had, and with yet another “knowing smirk” the guy handed them over to the drunken “mature student”.
Looking back, I have never been particularly”studious” but managed to pass all the courses that I have taken over the years, surprising myself mostly with getting averagely good grades. Even in primary school I remember getting myself into a real pickle one evening as I proclaimed to my mum that I wasn’t sure if I was to study the “middle ages” or the “middle pages” of my history book for a test the next day. I can’t remember if this was due to a lack of paying attention or being a little hard of hearing, but now that I have gone back to study I believe it to be the paying attention bit. Now however I can play the hard of hearing card!!
I also never went the route of University Study, instead I completed a Secretarial Course (upon my fathers advice) and achieved a diploma in Interior Design. My Dad offered me the choice of Overseas travel or University at a later point, and it took me all of a nano second to decide…..let me just think about that….. adventures overseas, partying in Ibiza or attending lectures. Geez that was really a tough decision!!! Next stop, London, Marbella, Cannes, Ibiza and a whole lot of other destinations.
I will not lie, it has been a crazy time! On my very first day of going back to study I was full of nerves at being “the new girl with grey hair and laughter lines”. Having allowed myself to get there in good time I decided to get a coffee (because people always look more interesting with a coffee in their hands). I realised that I had parked in a really expensive spot, so I then needed to move my car. Unfortunately, this resulted in me getting to class 15 minutes late. I literally ran to class and as I walked in I was very polite and breathlessly apologised for my lateness. Here’s my first bit of advice:
If a Tutor, tries to humiliate you in front of younger members in your first lecture, try to remain calm and composed whilst vowing to yourself how to get revenge!!
The tutor proceeded to admonish me in front of the class of lovely young students, did not listen to my explanation at all, and snidely added, “well you can’t be that sorry, you still managed to get yourself a coffee! I was so embarrassed and wanted to crawl into a hole, I mean who did she think she was talking too!!! I’m a 51 year old woman, and was not used to being “told off” in front of anyone. I was livid but didn’t retaliate, however it did take every ounce of resolve as I really wanted to tell her to shove her stupid classes, and not to be such a rude cow. This was not a good start to the term. Now for the second bit of advice :
Once a rude Tutors always a rude tutor
Things really didn’t get any better as the term went on. My son was diagnosed with a concussion after a head injury over Xmas and juggling study and work was zapping all my energy and as a result my health started to suffer. However, I struggled through the classes, trying to keep up with assignments but after the first assesment was due to be handed in, for some reason I had not been put on the internal communications list and therefore didn’t receive any vital correspondence relating to the course. When I realised this, I tried to email the tutor (with the wrong email that I had also been given) and when I did get the right email I got no response to my questions relating to turning in and presentation dates as she had gone on holiday!!. I ended up trying to discuss this in class with her, and wanted to explain what had happened but she wouldn’t listen to my explanation (go figure!!). I stood my ground but when I advised her to look into setting up an automated answering system for email, her response was : I will not allow a student to tell me what to do!”. It was at this point that I realised, this woman was not going to change and that if I stayed in her class I was surely to fail or quit the course so I requested a transfer. I would just like to add that I put on a very good performance, stood my ground and kept my dignity, even when “quit” and stormed out of her class. It was only when I reached the foyer that I collapsed in a sobbing heap and called Pistol, crying my heart out!!
After that I got transferred to another class where I had a really amazing tutor from South Africa. What a difference it makes when there is a feeling of mutual respect and understanding and a tutor has has the ability to bring out the best in people.
Allow for lots of obstacles and accept support when you need it
Pistol has been an amazing support during this chaotic time. Cooking dinner for the boys, helping with school runs and reading through my assessments and translating them for me so I actually completed with the correct criteria. In May 2018, I decided to quit my full time job, and started my own Virtual Assistance business. This allowed me the flexibility with study and I also changed to part time studies. This was the best decision I could have made. Dealing with my son and his concussion, and later a bout of Glandular Fever. My daughter also then caught Glandular Fever which laid her up for a whole school term. I think here reflection would be, if your kids have been healthy up until now, there is a very good chance that when you start study they will get sick. Murphys Law!!
If someone calls you inspirational, own it!
Apart from that unpleasant first term, I have loved filling my brain with new knowledge that will hopefully stay there at least for the next 10 years, all things age relative!!! I have also met the most wonderful students from around the world, who have been really kind and supportive. I love the cultural diversity and even though I am now not part of any particular cohort, each time I walk into a new room full of new faces I discover very quickly that they are all really amazing and very talented and I have learnt so much from them. One thing I never quite understand is how many of the younger women refer to me as “Inspirational”!
Now we aren’t talking Frida Kahlo “inspirational” here, but if meeting me will one day give any one of these young women the courage to realise that they can go through life and return to do something they are passionate about no matter what their age or situation, or the courage to not hide their glittery greys with toxic dye, then I’m happy to own that.