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My experience as a mature student at ARU


Faculty: Health, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Medicine
Course: MBChB Medicine
Category: Medicine

10 April 2024

Deciding to go back into further education as a mature student is not an easy decision. When I was faced with making this choice, I had to weigh up all my options carefully. Here's how I did it.

I had been working in a full-time role with great career progression trajectory and wonderful perks. I had routine, a stable income and free weekends!

However, I knew that despite all of these 'pros' I had one huge 'con'. During my time at work, I had the opportunity to work with many healthcare professionals and report on their work and research. This led me to learn more about the various roles in the healthcare profession and explore whether it was a potential career path. After careful consideration, lots of research and attending various open days I decided to take the next step and apply to medicine.

At the time, my main concerns were centred around where would I work part-time to fund the degree (as this would be my second undergraduate degree so I would not be entitled to a tuition fee loan), and how I would organise my schedule. I didn’t think too much about the ‘mature’ aspect of being a student, until I attended my interviews. I realised that a lot of students would be school leavers and that is when I started to worry about how I would fit in and find friends. I moved to Chelmsford for this degree, so I did not know anyone in this area before moving here, therefore making friends was crucial for me.

Once I started the course however, I realised that it wasn’t as daunting as it seemed in my head. There are many events, activities and opportunities to meet new people, find part-time work and fit that around my academic and social calendar.

Here are some of my experiences with the concerns I had.

Finding part-time work

I initially started working in hospitality but found the hours were not very flexible. It was also difficult to rearrange my hours when I had important deadlines or events for university. This led me to search for something within ARU, which is how I found out about ARU Temps.

ARU Temps allows students to fit work around their own schedule and offers a wide range of job opportunities that are relevant to the progression of your future career. I have had so many wonderful roles that include mentoring, working with young people to raise aspirations, helping prospective students and helping current students. This has enabled me to retain my professional skillset and maintain my CV. I now also get to choose the shifts that work with my academic schedule which has been helpful for my education. The University also strives to always pays the minimum living wage as a minimum. Through work I have also made lots of friends and good connections.

Organising my time

Being a mature student inevitably means that there is life admin that goes around university life, that is different to what my life admin was when I was studying my first degree aged 18-21.

I have more life events to attend, different types of financial responsibilities and different commitments. I was worried about how all this would fit around my studies and university life. However once you have found a good schedule, that you keep on top of and stay organised it is possible to keep on top of it all. I have found using the below methods helps keep me organised and on top of my studies.

  • Notion is a great tool, with various features making it a great all-in-one app that I use to organise my schedule, revise, keep and make notes, and even organise my life admin.
  • Focus apps (Forest (forestapp.cc) or https://flora.appfinca.com/) provide a great inceptive to keep focused and stay off your phone when it comes to crunch. This allows you to focus on your work and not let your phone become a distraction, all while growing a forest!
  • Old-fashioned lists and sticky notes. If I don’t write it down, chances are I will forget it. I have now developed a habit of writing everything down that needs to be remembered or done. Whether that is using a notepad, or my notes app on my phone. It then prompts me to add it to my calendar and Notion so I am on track with all my tasks. Being organised in this way means I can always schedule in time to do things that I want to do for fun such as meeting with friends and family or my hobbies outside of work and studies.

Attending events

I found this was the best way to make friends. From educational events and social events, there are many things to get involved with at university. I have even picked up new skills and hobbies that I would not have done had I not signed up to different events.

Making use of student services

ARU offers a wide range of student services which are very useful, especially after you have had a break in your education.

Resources such as Study Skills Plus are a great way to help you gain confidence in your studies. There is also a financial advice team who are able to help you with budgeting or looking for various charities targeted at postgraduate/mature students for those who need extra support.

Achieving my goals

Overall, my experience as a mature student at ARU has gone and is going, well. I have found a good way to balance my student, work and social life in order to allow me to achieve both my academic and personal goals.

The most important thing I quickly learned is that there are many mature students who choose to return to university at various stages of their life and it has been wonderful to be able to join that community and meet like-minded people. Most mature students are super friendly and willing to share their own experiences to help advise and support others.

I am very pleased that I took the leap of faith and left my previous pathway to follow my dream of becoming a doctor.

Fatima studies MBChB Medicine at ARU in Chelmsford. Find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.