Green hair and Vans – What it means to be a mature student at university

Photo by Julie Sanford

Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that taking the leap and going to university is pretty daunting. The unknown, the constant doubts: Am I good enough? Will I settle in? Will I make friends? Now ask yourself the same questions but imagine you are a forty-year-old woman. I will give you a moment to process that as some of you may be so fresh out the womb that forty seems like a literal lifetime away. Others of you may be struggling with the woman part, but that’s a discussion for another day. 

Did you think about it? The age thing makes a difference, right? How can a forty-year-old woman justify actively trying to befriend teenagers? As a mum to teenagers, I am certain that my children would consider such actions plain embarrassing. How do I start befriending anyone when I am as old, if not older, than the majority of the tutors? This is when the doubts set in: Do I go the full hog, purchase a pair of Vans, learn to ride a skateboard, dye my hair, and try to blend in?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Julie, the midlife crisis I’m-so-cool-it-hurts-(literally when I fall off said skateboard)-cool mum. Because that’s all I can achieve with that look: An attempt to be a cool mum. I may be ancient but I can still recall the cool mums of my youth. They let multiple amounts of teenagers stay over whilst they went to the pub. They come home drunk and encourage everyone to do shots.

Cool mum ruled out; What are my other options? Keep myself to myself, go online, or to campus, do my lectures and leave? Except I can’t help but wanting to interact, I can’t help but start every conversation with: I have children your age. I know it’s condescending, I know it is not what you want to hear every time we break off into a meeting, but it’s all I have, guys. I need help. 

This is a learning process for all of us, this further education lark, an opportunity to grow mentally and emotionally, to be educated further and harder than we have ever before. I appreciate this opportunity but with it came something else. A shameful development has occurred on my part. I am becoming a Karen. I can’t help myself. A recent purchase of footsies and serious consideration about buying sketchers confirms it. So spare a thought for us oldies, the middle-age woman skating around campus with a green inverted bob and an overwhelming urge to speak to the manager. We are not okay. 

The Crow’s Nest is a Greenwich Students’ Union Student Media channel. The views expressed in this website do not necessarily reflect those of GSU, its trustees, employees, officers or the University of Greenwich.

Published by Julie Sanford

The old woman that lives in a shoe as the name suggests, I have so many children I don't know what to do. Seven is the actual number, six that I birthed and a live-in stepson, seven joyful boisterous challenging little (some not so little) people that rule the roost, bank balance, and me. I'm neither an over-productive earth mother nor Catholic. In fact, I probably have more in common with the fodder seen on delightful programmes like Jeremy Kyle. Seven children by 2 fathers living in a council house. It can't just be me surely, others out there must be able to relate. Every day is a struggle but within that struggle is enough comical material to host a night at the palladium. So here goes let the story sharing commence. I should probably mention, after this statement was initially written, my course changed slightly. I ended up writing and self publishing three novels and two short stories, none or which were comical or biographical, All available on Amazon or Kindle. Sculpting Amanda, Heart shaped shackles and Love's first fall. plus The drying rooms and The urge.

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