A mature student’s guide to freshers

Its easy to feel like you stand out among the freshers, but you can use that to your advantage. Source: Wikimedia Commons

by Gareth Axenderrie

How many times did you really believe this day would come? You, surrounded by 18-year-olds, back in university.

You may be one of the lucky ones, feeling completely comfortable with your new surroundings. If you are even remotely like me however, you may well be feeling a little nervous at the thought of embarking on the next three years as an official ‘mature student’.

On top of that trepidation comes Freshers’ Week. It’s true, it is marketed to your 18-year-old contemporaries, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find your place among the organised chaos.

The easy thing to do would probably be to lock yourself away, and leave the club nights, parties and alcohol-induced antics to the youngsters. The easy thing is rarely the right thing to do however.

In fact, you really are better off getting stuck in, besides, there really is something for everybody during Freshers’, and you’ll likely surprise yourself how suited you are to many of them.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is drop any belief you have that there’s somewhere you don’t belong just because you’ve been labelled mature. That’s nonsense, and I can guarantee the only person who will believe it if you allow them to is yourself.

If anything, people are going to want to reach out to you a little more, it’s human nature to have your interest peaked by things that are different, and you’re a good different. I remember during my Freshers, I had to answer dozens of questions regarding why I am here, and why I haven’t been to uni already… it’s a great icebreaker.

Secondly, simply don’t be shy and get stuck in. The truth is, you’re only going to be here for three years, and regardless of who you are, they’re a hugely formative part of your life.

You don’t want to look back in three years time and wish you’d given it a little more. It’s incredibly cliched, but you’ll make friends and memories for life, and so many start during freshers.

Finally, make sure you hit the freshers’ fairs, there is literally something for everybody. This year they are across four days, with one each for sports and volunteering and wo for societies.

They really are a perfect opportunity to meet people, find your niche in this new environment and figure out what you want to spend your quality time doing over the next three years.

Furthermore, there’s a tonne of opportunities to try things out with free Give It A Go sessions, and it is well worth trying out as many things as you see fit.

Finally, allow yourself room to feel a little uncomfortable, but don’t lose sight of the fact you’re here to enjoy yourself as much as anybody else is. As a mature student, I have gained so much from my university experience,  and it all started during that first Freshers Week.

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