New Direction – the joys of being a mature student

All very last minute, but I am now officially a mature student.

I’ve been meaning to return to higher education and ‘top-up’ my foundation degree in Music, and now seemed like the right time. This time next year, I should – hopefully – have a BA in Music.
At present, I am unsure as to weather I will continue on into either a teaching qualification or head down the Masters/academic route. I will of course keep you all updated.

Despite considering this for some time, it was only following a chat with a friend that I originally contacted Sunderland University with a view to applying for next year – I mean, it’s already September, I assumed it was too late for this year! However, they mentioned available places and suggested I speak to the Head of Course. Following a ten minute phone conversation about the modules of the course and my relevant education and working experience I was offered a place.
To ensure the university had everything they needed (presumably for audit/OFSTED reasons) I had to complete the basic application form and take along a copy of my last HE certificate – and that was about it. Now all I need is for the Student Loans Company to get their finger out and send the fees/living expenses over!

So here’s some tips if you’re considering going into (or indeed returning to) higher education –

* Speak to the Universities you are interested in DIRECTLY. Find out as much as you can about the staff, facilities, teaching & assessment methods and of course the course itself. If it seems like a good fit for you, keep the information handy.

* Leave UCAS out of it – they operate best when catering for A-Level students waiting on results for their conditional offers. As a mature student, you only need ONE reference (an employer character reference).

* Wait until Universities are in their ‘clearing’ phase. This is immediately after A-Level results day and they will be very keen to fill up any places they haven’t yet found students for and therefore very attentive and helpful.

* Have everything ready to apply for any student finance. Find out what you are eligible to receive and what you need to provide in order for your application to be processed smoothly & quickly, without referring back to you for extra evidence (usually this is proof you have been self-funded for rent, mortgage, food, bills, car, etc, etc for the last three years). The Student Loans Company are notoriously awkward so make it as easy as possible for them and you!

* Finally, have fun and enjoy broadening your horizons! Don’t be put off by the perceived age difference – on my first day I realised everyone else was a 20 year old going straight onto the course from their HNDs, and hough I’m only 30, I had concerns it would be difficult to get along with a gaggle of younger pups. However I was surprised to see a motivated and mature group of individuals so I’m still very glad I signed up! I did, however, get mistaken for a lecturer as well – pros and cons I suppose!

My blog will continue with updates on my (mature) student life as well as information on my written and live-based project work. Either way, it will find a way into the projects I am currently working on in my own time.

Peace out for now xx

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