Older and wiser? Returning to university after working


Hi, my name is Katherine and I am currently studying an MSc in Sustainability and Management. After deciding to return to university four years after finishing my undergraduate degree I was incredibly nervous about how I would readjust to ‘student life’. Even though I knew a master’s degree would help my professional and personal development I questioned whether I would miss the structured nature of a 9-5, if I would make new friends being older than my classmates and would I still know how to write an essay?

Now, after many months here at Bath I can safely say my worries were unfounded. I have been surprised at how quickly I have settled into student life in Bath, albeit it’s different from my undergraduate experience. Below I have listed some of the things I was worried about and how they compare to my current reality.

Student Accommodation

For the last few years I have lived on my own in my the town where I grew up. When I thought about returning to university, visions of unwashed dishes and people stealing my last pint of milk filled my mind. While many of my course mates have had a great time in postgraduate halls of residence, I knew it wasn’t for me. Instead, I turned to Spare Room to find people like myself to live with. While it does mean I have to manage the heating bills I was lucky and me and my flatmate became fast friends.

The Age Gap

At the grand old age of 26 I worried that I wouldn’t fit in with my course mates and would feel out of place around campus. However, from day one I quickly realised how wrong I was. I attended lots of the postgraduate events during Welcome Week where I met and became good friends with people many years younger AND older than me. I have found the age diversity a really refreshing part of the postgraduate experience and can confirm that age is just a number.

Can I still write an essay?

While the flexibility of student life is great, there is also something to be said for the comforting structure of a 9 to 5. I for one liked it very much. Work also didn’t often ask me to write 4,000 words and delve deep into academic theory. So far, while I do try and make it to campus every day to make my weekends a little more relaxed, it has also been nice to ‘clock off’ on a sunny Friday afternoon and enjoy the fun Bath has to offer.

With regards to the academic rigour of a master’s degree, so far it’s been enjoyable and I am grateful to be back in a learning environment, I can feel my brain being challenged! While I haven’t had any essays due yet, so can’t yet confirm if I can still write one, I feel excited rather than scared at the prospect.

Finally, I thought I would touch on the support available from the University of Bath and how the ‘hands-on’ approach really helped me settle in during the first few weeks. The Welcome Week timetabled sessions on careers advice, wellbeing support and with our Director of Studies really made me feel looked after and therefore less concerned. They were also a great way to get to know other people on my course. While I have been lucky not to need additional support so far, it has been reassuring to know it’s there if I need it. I think the School of Management has helped foster a sense of community within my course.

As you can probably tell, my postgraduate experience so far here at Bath has been a great one. While it’s stressful and challenging I am so glad I made the decision to return to university. It’s different from my undergraduate experience but for me that has been a good thing. In conclusion, if you think a master’s degree is the right thing for you, don’t let concerns about age hold you back!

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