Diary of a Mature Student January 2007

Added on Monday 8 Jan 2007

University of Glasgow

Frances Rickus

After the initial high of being a student again, I settled into life at University. I am part time, only studying one subject this year. I thought it best to break myself in gradually to essays and exams. It is almost twenty years since I last studied so the first essay and exam were going to be a time of great anxiety. I told myself that studying toward a goal of moving up the degree to higher levels would focus me and sharpen my mental abilities. Alas, it is not quite as easy as I thought.

You will have heard of 'senior moments'. Yes, I have lots of them, sometimes in the middle of seminars when I can lose the train of thought and have to revert to using my wits to rescue me from potentially embarrassing moments. However, anything lost in memory is more than compensated for by the wealth of lifetime experience I bring to studying.

The first essay was an experience to put together. I had the knowledge but the presentation is all important in a degree course and my heart goes out to the academics marking 95 essays in a fairly short space of time. Essays do not include the students' name, only the registration number to ensure anonymity. My registration number has an 86 prefix rather than 06 as I studied previously at Glasgow University so unfortunately I can't enjoy anonymity. I did not do well in the essay as I just ran out of steam trying to put it together and I do feel I have let down my lecturers and tutor but I am on a steep learning curve and I will apply myself more seriously next time.

This week is the exam and I have spent a lot of time reading and rereading the course work. I have drawn mind maps, scribbled notes and anyone would think it was for a PhD rather than Level 1. The key is to find the way that works to retain and retrieve knowledge and then exams and essays should be easier in the future.

I have loved the last semester studying film and I am looking forward to studying TV next semester. The Mature Students Association has been a little oasis for me providing a study facility 24/7 and the opportunity to meet older students to exchange information on studying. They even have good parties! As time goes on I am integrating much better into the class and the young people are regarding me less as a curiosity and more as a fellow student. At first, they thought I was a member of staff but I think they have noticed that I am much older than the staff! Everyone on the staff has been very helpful especially when I was ill with a nasty bug during the semester and missed some lectures and screenings.

There are times I ask myself why I am doing this degree but life long learning is so important and without the pressure of having to do well on the degree to carve out a career, I am free to enjoy the learning experience in a subject of my choice. You are never too old to learn!

October, 2006

Since I retired, early I might add, I have taken classes at the University of Glasgow, Department of Adult Education. In particular, I enjoyed the Art Appreciation course being run by Martin Baillie. Martin has been a marvellous lecturer and despite his advancing years he has continued to hold weekly lectures on the pearls of the art world. This is the last year of his course and I thought I should consider some future study as I am a firm believer in lifelong learning.

I decided the best way forward was to register as a part time student on a degree course, possibly History of Art. However, somewhere along the way I decided I would also like to study the Theatre and also Films. I duly registered for Theatre Studies as I thought Film and TV Studies would require full time study. Fortunately, the Adviser of Studies found that Film and TV Studies were willing to take a part timer so I hot footed it to the Department and was accepted.

The Freshers' Week was in late September and I decided to go along and find all about the clubs on offer at the University. I wandered about University Avenue, the centre of the campus, with all the schoolleavers and was not even offered a disco ticket. Hardly surprising, I was at least 37 years older than the other freshers. Obviously, the baseball boots and the jeans did not fool anybody!

However, at the Freshers' Fair I was approached by various societies, who seemed willing to take a wrinklie just to keep their numbers up and attract more subscription money. Suddenly, the representaive from the Mature Students' Association (MSA) noticed me and pounced. I wonder how she knew I was over twenty one? I joined the MSA, a little oasis, like the staff room in a school, where you can escape from the young.

Although, I am having a great time with the young students who after mistaking me for a member of staff treat me like a curiosity. Most of them seem very bright and confident but have stacks more work than me as they have three subjects and as a part-timer I only have one.

I love the course, making an academic study of my interest in the cinema, but the day of reckoning is coming in a few weeks when my first essay is due.

The other bonus on the Film and TV Studies is that the library for the subject is on the 11th floor of the Library Building and has stunning views over the Westend but I must remember I am there to study books and not the view. The other source of amusement is my student registration card which uses my previous number from 1986 when I studied for an M Phil. It causes problems when I sign on certain computers. The computer boffins have informed me I am in a special container with that number. This conjures all sorts of thoughts of being locked in a container in a computer! I must be watching too many films.

Wish me luck in the essay. Probably the next article will be in the run up to the first examination and I shall be even more neurotic.

Frances Rickus

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