A Balancing Act: The Realities of Being a Mature Student

A Balancing Act: The Realities of Being a Mature Student


Starting a new journey as a mature student, home, work, and learning can be a balancing act and requires a sense of humour, a healthy dose of dedication and letting go of preconceived ideas.  

Denzil Washington summed up any challenge in his quote.


“Do what you gotta do so you can do what you wanna do”.
Denzil washing


Back at school, students are much younger and seem more together than Anne.

They enter the classroom and Anne wonders if she is in the right place. What made her think she could return to school after so many years? 

Gathering her bag and pencil case, she stood, ready to leave – She had made a terrible mistake.  

Too late, the professor, a little older than Anne, walks in with an air of superiority and knowing.

She sits back down and hopes no one notices her.

Roll call starts, and Anne’s name is called out. 

“Yes”, she squeaks, losing her voice.

“Ah yes”, says the professor, “you are the student with a higgledy piggledy background in Education. I don’t think you will do well here; you can leave before we start?”  

Anne stares at him in disbelief. Taking a deep breath and standing up, she says.

“I know I am in the right place and am certain it is for me to say if it is right for me, not someone who knows nothing about me.” Anne could feel the anger rising; she stared at this man, waiting for a response. 

None came; he moved on with the roll call.

She sat down. A guy, she later learnt his name was Steve, sat before her. He turned and gave me a thumbs-up and a big smile. He was in his late 20s, almost half her age. She smiled back, feeling sheepish. She wondered what made her say that and probably created an enemy before classes started.

The rest of the day went much better; they made their way to the cafeteria after being given a timetable with class schedules and room numbers. Steve and a few other students gravitated to sit with Anne.  

The building was an old university with a paternoster; jumping on and off moving lift compartments was scary. Overall, it was a difficult day, but Anne survived and felt a great sense of achievement at the end of the day.

Driving home after a day of complete chaos and fear, Anne was relieved and satisfied that she had achieved quite a lot. Now, to face the challenges of home.

Home was a haven filled with joyous chaos of two small boys rushing towards her, grabbing her legs and pulling her into the living room, eager to share their day with Anne.

“Come see what we have built”, they both excitedly shout. The living room had been transformed into a makeshift camping ground; pillows, cushions, blankets, and sheets made a tent filled with books and toys. Anne fell into the tent onto the cushions; the boys fell on top of her, giggling and grabbing at books and toys, taking refuge in the familiar warmth. The doubts she had earlier were dispelled with the warmth and delight of her children.

“Read this book, Anne; please read it now”.  

After putting them to bed, they were all exhausted with their new experiences. 

Doubt once again resurfaced: could she sustain the delicate balancing act? 

Sitting quietly with a cup of tea, she recalled the quote from Martin Luther King Jr.

“The function of Education is to teach one to think intensively and critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true Education.”


Martin Luther King wrote this in a newspaper when he was only 18 years old. His words became a mantra to Anne as she navigated her way through the three years of University.

Three years later, after making some great – albeit younger friends – Anne graduated and wouldn’t change anything. Everyone benefited from the experience. Her boys became more confident and learnt new skills with their nanny, attending playschool and later big school. They all learned so much and grew in strength, knowledge, and confidence. The journey was a testament to the transformative power of Education, proving that dedication, passion and family support could overcome any obstacles.

In the end, Anne showed them all – the doubting professor, the sceptical classmates and, more importantly, the nagging voice.

It was all worth it.

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