Philosophy graduate Sarah Richmond talks about her adventure studying at the University of Hull as a mature student.
Looking across at us in the lecture theatre you probably wouldn’t have picked me out as a mature student – I blended in – with my jeans and t-shirt and my quiet disposition – not wanting to give too much away.
Inside however, I felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. Did I feel old? Yes, was I? No. Well maybe I was to the 18 year olds, but not really. I was in my mid-twenties – I had just lived a bit more; I had experienced the working world, knew a little more about what I wanted and I owned my own home.
Due to family circumstances, when I was 17 I found myself in a new town, an hour away from the current sixth form I was attending. I thought about finishing my A Levels in a new college, but the thought of not knowing anyone was a daunting one. After some thought I made the decision to go into full time work. I ended up staying in a job for 4 and a half years, that I hated – it became easy and comfortable.
Fast forward to 2017, after other jobs that had been a better fit for me, I found myself out of work and thoughts of going to university were at the forefront of my mind. I contacted the admissions department at the University of Hull and was advised that you could gain entry with work experience and other qualifications, I couldn’t believe it – I had the misconception that you had to have A Levels to gain entry.
When I was offered an unconditional place onto the three-year degree programme, it meant the world to me. My course was BA (hons) Philosophy, I had an interest in Philosophy from a young age – I was studying RS with Philosophy at A Level when I was in sixth form, I’ve always had an inquisitive mind. My family shared the joy with me of my offer to study. I felt like the time had finally come for me to get the education I knew I always wanted; I couldn’t wait for my new adventure to begin.
“University was a nerve-wracking experience and a lot of hard work, but I loved it.”
I managed financially, through a mixture of a student maintenance loan and personal savings. My partner who I lived with was really supportive throughout my whole journey, which was a huge help, especially on some nights when the work was really intense, which was most of the time!
The University of Hull was always going to be my main choice as I had planted roots there. I went to a mature student day that the University was holding and was surprised at how many were there. This really normalised everything and put me at ease in that I wasn’t alone as a mature student. I remember meeting a range of people between the ages of 21 and 40. During my course I learned that the eldest student among us was in his fifties.