Editor's Note: Here is a blog post from Steven M. P. Gill, a new creative multimedia student in LIT-Clonmel. Steven wrote his thoughts about being a mature student on the same day that several mature students took a Media Trip to Dublin (at right).
Remember the days when you could get your mum to do your washing and there would be home cooked meal waiting for you when you got home from school?
For some of us this is a distant past, as some of us are now the parent and are there tending to our own children’s washing and evening meals. This is in fact a common feature of many of the mature students I have encountered in my time. All of them are hardworking, organised, and experienced individuals trying to better themselves in what is primarily a youngster’s world. What do you mean? Well...the average student fresh out of Leaving Cert trying to discover life, versus, the mature student who is merely trying to improve it. Two almost completely different cultures, or generations coming together in one place all with the same objective: Education!
There are some subtle differences between a student and a mature student and nine times out of ten it is, apart from age, a student will be dependent on parents for support, where a mature student is either non-dependant and/or is the parent with dependants. This does add a lot of pressure on the mature student, and some younger students, as they have to balance time at college with their chores, bills, family time, and eventually in those snatched few hours, homework. So much to do! So many responsibilities!
”Last night I let the kids run around for a few hours. To tire them out. Then when they went to sleep I got stuck into it... It’s the only time really... I was up till five in the morning”
James Kennedy on 18/10/10. Mature student at Tipperary Institute, Clonmel.
And he was still up that following morning fresh as a daisy.
I am not trying to take anything away from the "younger student". They have their own long list of challenges to face, most of which some mature students have already faced. This gives the mature student an extra hidden responsibility ... as peers to the younger generation! Like a big brother, or big sister role. We are almost expected to "have it made", "got our life sorted out", bringing the “How did you manage it?” questions. In reality a mature student is probably even more insecure about being a student than the younger generation. We challenge our own abilities to cope in a younger student’s world. We fear inadequacy and for some isolation. These are every day issues which affect all students.
An ever changing world brings new and undiscovered challenges and this can lead to many unforeseen complications as well as hidden rewards. A mature student is more experienced at coping with the unexpected and is more likely to take a logical and thought-out approach to tackling them, rather than rashly rushing in. For instance, today I was asked to join an activist campaign against rise in student fees, and fair play to the campaigners, but I couldn’t just drop everything to go traipsing around Dublin. I do not think "rally the troops", "up on the front line" or "let’s protest!" Instead I am thinking time away from home, money which could be spent on better things, and I have studying and assignments to finish. A logical, yet probably, unwelcome response to the presented situation. I haven’t won favours with the campaigners, but I will be able to prioritize my already tight schedule. Other students, mature and young would have probably come up with a different response, and I welcome any criticism, but I think I made the right decision for me.
This comes to my final point. A mature student is more able to judge what is important to their needs and less likely to follow the masses as it were. No student young or old should feel compelled to follow any campaign or any group, or even a union for that matter without fully understanding the fundamental implications of doing so. Please consider things carefully. Don’t be rash. Talk to your peers, teachers and friends. Get advice and ask for help. Every college has their own Student Support Network.
Some important Student Support contacts for TI Students at http://www.tippinst.ie/student/services/support_contacts.htm
Jimmy O'Donnell, College Chaplain:
From reception: 8032
Mobile: 086 8184787
(24 x 7)
Thurles: Monday -Tuesday - Wednesday - Friday, room D117
Dr. Brid Bates, Learning Support Tutor:
Thurles: Monday - Research Modular Building
Clonmel: Tuesday & Wednesday mornings - Student Union Office
Marie Kealy MA MIACP, College Counsellor
From reception: 8444
Mobile: 086 2414013
Thurles: Wednesday from 10am - Research Modular Building
Clonmel: Monday 2pm to 5pm & Thursday 2pm to 5pm - Room A118
Patricia Quigley, Careers Specialist
From reception: 8119
Colleen Ryan, Student Support Administrator
From reception: 8077
Thurles: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday - DAS
Clonmel: Monday & Friday - Reception area
Carolann Bargary, Access Officer
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
From reception: 8066
Mobile: 086 8119664
Thurles: Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday - DAS
Clonmel: Monday & Friday - Student Union Office