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.

2 thoughts on “Green hair and Vans – What it means to be a mature student at university

  1. I can relate to your article completely! I felt the same, lots of doubts and weird feelings as an adult returning to education. Sharing our experiences can help other people, keep it up and thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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