Whether you are in your mid-twenties or in your forties, if you decide to go into higher education you will be defined as an adult student or a mature student.
Yet, we have here two distinct age groups, two distinct situations and so, they must be addressed separately.
If we look first at our children fresh out of high school, the vast majority of them would benefit greatly from entering college or university as a mature student.
It is not a matter of technicalities or material advantages. It is about trying to achieve one’s full potential.
In order to do so, we have to make choices. What career to pursue? Should I go into higher education or not? And if so, what and where should I study?
These are important choices. They will generally decide of our path in life for years to come. Yet, the 17 or 18 years old is sometimes ill equipped to make theses decisions wisely.
It could be that, instead of jumping straight from the stress of the early teenage years and the first exams into college life, our children could benefit from taking a few years discovering the world around them.
Opening one’s horizons and gaining some life experiences is invaluable and helps define one’s place in this world as much as formal education.
Then, at the age of applying as a mature student, the choices can be examined again and a better-informed decision made.
Of course, this is not a final solution that everyone should adopt and, lo and behold, the world is a better place. It is only an option to consider in helping our children discover and reach their potential.
In this regard, the early teenage years are another important time in their life. But it would take a fully dedicated article to explain how critical this stage is in our children’s life and why so many of them reach the late teenage years with very little faith in the adult world and not much motivation to join in.
Ultimately, our children will only build the world we would like them to build if they are given the tools to do so and, almost as important, the time to think for themselves.
Letting them join higher education as a mature student would at least help to satisfy the latter of these requirements.
But not all mature students are in their mid or late twenties. Take a stroll on a campus on a busy day and you will see students of all ages.
Some will have drifted half their life before getting there, others will have made the courageous decision of leaving a secure but uninteresting job in the hope, one day, of getting up in the morning to do something they actually like. Finally others will have waited until retirement and gone into higher education just to satisfy their thirst for knowledge.
Truly, there are as many different cases as there are stars in the sky.
Often times it means juggling studies and family life, covering the cost of education and still being able to pay the bills. It is challenging indeed, but as is often the case it is also greatly rewarding.
This all goes to show that it is never too late to pursue one’s dreams. It takes courage, determination and, yes, often requires some sacrifices. And whether we live many lives or just one, we are here, in this place, in this time, and it is up to us to make this life, our life, enjoyable if not meaningful.
In order to do so, we must not be afraid to embark on the great adventures of life, and going into higher education as an adult student is just such an adventure.
Will you take up the challenge?