Mature students make up around 4% of the student population, and their numbers are increasing. Around half are at the ‘standard-age’ colleges. All mature students, including undergraduates who started their course when they were over the age of 21, are full members of the GU and are welcome to come to any of our events, or to use our services or the facilities at the University Centre.
Mature students’ affairs are looked after jointly by the Graduate Union and CUSU (who have a part-time mature students officer on the exec. Please visit www.cusu.cam.ac.uk/campaigns/maturestudents for details.
The concerns of the mature student can be very different from those of other students, and since the group is so diverse, it is extremely difficult to define these concerns. The GU is always happy to discuss with mature students what we should be doing for them.
Many mature students find living out of college enables them to keep a healthy perspective on their studies through staying in contact with the ‘real world’. However, living in can be enjoyable and an excellent way to make new friends if you allow for the fact that a room in a hall of residence will come as a shock after years of independence. Communal living requires a fairly accommodating attitude when you are sharing cooking facilities, bathrooms and walls with other students. It will not necessarily be quiet when you wish to study and, of course, you may feel like partying when others have just settled down to their books. These problems are normal, but may be exaggerated when everyone else is a different age, and may be away from home for the first time.
While there is certainly an academic advantage in being a mature student, being more widely-read and with more experience of life, the social side of life can be more difficult. Some colleges have a fairly substantial intake of mature students whilst others admit only a handful. It is possible to feel marooned, or simply in need of “mature” company. Various events take place throughout the year where you can meet others in a similar position.
Cambridge provides a unique opportunity for active involvement in music, theatre, sport, and almost everything else; a wide variety of possibilities are represented both by the large number of student societies in existence, and the facilities available for the general public in the town itself. As a mature student you may find that your extra experience takes you straight onto a committee or enables you to organise something entirely new. One thing is certain: whether you are following your current interests or developing new ones the years you spend here will provide opportunities that may not occur again once you are back in the “working” world.