Today, it is normal for British youngsters to university from school, rarely do they go straight from school to work. They might take a gap year to travel, but more young people, than not, go to university. It seems as if it has ever been thus, but it was not always so. Once, only the privileged few went to college, those with rich parents or the truly brilliant, who won scholarship or bursaries to help with expenses. In the 1970s, out of a secondary school year group of 120 youngsters, only 15 went to university. Other young people left school, when they were fifteen or sixteen, and went either straight into a job or to learn a trade by taking an apprenticeship.
We are the forgotten army, who filled the offices, shops, and factories in the sixties, seventies and eighties. Younger people ask us where we went to university, when we sadly reply that we did not go to university they look at us as if we have no brain cells at all. They think we were not clever enough to go to university and do not realize the reality of life back then.
Our lives are plagued enough by not having a degree, without others looking down on us. It seems that everyone, who has that coveted piece of paper is confident, knows more and speaks up better than we do. We feel that there is something missing from our lives, although we may have held responsible jobs, raised children, paid our bills and taxes and contributed to our communities.
We may feel that the time for education has long passed and that, anyway, we are not brainy enough to consider returning to learning. Neither of these two thoughts are true, possessing a degree does not automatically make a person more intelligent, and now there are so many opportunities for mature students to go to university, and get that degree. No one is too old to get that missing degree and fill that void in life.
Many British universities even run special courses and open days aimed at mature students. Some run part-time courses, so that mature students can still work whilst they study. Tutors and lecturers understand the particular problems that adult students have in juggling jobs, domestic, and family, duties with studying and are sympathetic, and help you find a solution when life intervenes in your studies.
You need not be plagued by the lack of a degree. If you really want one you can get one. Do not be frightened, take the plunge, go, and fill the void. You will not be alone, or even the oldest in your class; mature students are flocking to welcoming universities and, like you, choosing to get that missing degree. The moment that you graduate clutching that precious piece of paper is well worth the effort and it will benefit your life in so very many ways that you do not yet realize. I know, I got my degree in my late forties and the day I walked onto a stage, wearing a cap and gown, and received my degree was the proudest day of my life.