The student body at King’s is extremely diverse, culturally and age-wise, which creates the incredibly eclectic and international quality we are lucky to have. However, at undergraduate level, where the majority of students are 18, it can be a bit daunting to start a degree at an older age. This is something I know I was worried about when I started at King’s this year at the age of 20.
Here is my interview with Manjot Heer who, at 24, is a slightly more ‘mature’ undergraduate student at King’s. We discuss the apprehension he felt before coming to university and the ways in which King’s helped him overcome this. Hopefully this will be interesting, and helpful, for any other, slightly older, prospective students who are thinking of coming to King’s in the near future!
AM (interviewer): Hi Manjot. Could you tell our readers what it is you’re studying?
MH (interviewee): I am a second-year Business Management student.
AM: How old were you when you came to university?
MH: I was a bit of a late bloomer; I came at 23.
AM: And were you apprehensive before coming to university and starting a bit later than others?
MH: Yeah, I was actually. It was something that had played on my mind. I remember going to the offer holder open day and I did see some more mature students, but I was still very apprehensive before actually starting. But the environment at King’s, across all campuses, is very inclusive. And, actually, age becomes redundant after the initial meeting because people want to get to know you for you.
AM: So what were the issues you thought you might have, starting as a mature student?
MH: Just being generally older than everyone else. That I wouldn’t get some of the jokes… That I wouldn’t fit in with either the younger students or the more mature ones. But, actually, I found the reverse. I found King’s to be very inclusive, both culturally so and age-wise. I found no problem with finding some kind of common ground with most people, regardless of age.
AM: Did you move into student accommodation in your first year?
MH: Yes I did; I lived at Stamford Street Apartments.
AM: And did you find any problems there, with being an older student?
MH: I don’t think I did actually. Everyone was very welcoming and because everyone in student accommodation is in the same position, people just want to make friends and have a good time. And a lot of the RAs(*) were third-year or master students so, like I’ve said, every environment at King’s that you find yourself in, there will always be a very varied community of people where age no longer matter. People just want to integrate with one another.
AM: Did you find any issues academically, coming back to education after having been away for a while?
MH: A little bit. Having to get used to writing a lot of essays in short amounts of time. Learning lots of completely new things. These weren’t so much problems; it was just the act of having to get used to a completely new academic environment, and having to juggle this with living away from home. In some ways it may have actually helped me as I was able to put things into perspective more easily. I perhaps didn’t allow myself to get as stressed as students who had just come from sixth form or college.
AM: Do you think there were any another advantages to being a more mature student?
MH: Definitely. As I said perspective is one. I have seen how some students that have perhaps only ever been in the education system, without being in the working world, can become very upset over one grade that they wished was higher. I think, due to my age and other experiences, I have the ability to see that each essay is only a small part of a much bigger picture, and that what is truly important is that you learn from it before moving on, instead of panicking.
You are also more sure of yourself with age, and I’ve found that attracts like-minded people that you can really get on with. The extra time away from education should mean that you also end up choosing a degree that you really love, as I do with Business Management.
AM: As one final question: what is your favourite thing about King’s?
MH: The people you meet, inside and outside of university. Being in central London has always been a dream of mine and it means that I get to explore incredible places and meet interesting, like-minded people every day.
(*) An RA is a student in their second-year of their undergraduate degree or a master’s student who has applied to live in student accommodation again after their first year, as a Resident Advisor. They will in the accommodation with other RAs to provide a support network for first year students. They will organise social events such as movie nights, and also hold support sessions for students who have issues they want to discuss in a safe environment.