Deciding to go to university
Thousands of people choose to study higher education several years after leaving college. The diversity of work and life experience that mature students bring is a valuable part of our university community.
We understand that studying as a mature student is often a balancing act with work and family commitments, so we're here to offer advice on everything from choosing a course to making an application, preparing to start and supporting you during your degree.
For students on Access courses, we offer one-to-one sessions on writing personal statements and interview preparation.
For students planning to study healthcare, we have a dedicated Healthcare Access Conference every year.
The events listed above are currently running online until further notice. For further information, visit our events page.
For comprehensive advice and support, visit our advice for mature students page.
Advice from mature students
We pride ourselves on having a strong contingent of mature students at University of Brighton, and many are happy to pass on advice.
We have prepared a set of videos on useful topics for prospective students:
Nina Vallard, Inclusive Arts Practice MA (part-time)
Where did you go to college before starting at Brighton?
Greater Brighton Metropolitan College. I did an Access to HE course in 2014 and an Award in Education and Training in 2015.
Which university events did you attend before applying?
I went to a talk on the Falmer campus, where I found out about the widening participation scheme. I hadn’t realised I was able to access additional support because all the schemes I had seen were aimed at teenagers. By applying through widening participation, I was able to attend a taster lecture in humanities and speak to staff. As a result, I was the first person in my college to accept an offer to study at university that academic year.
How did the activities help your decision to apply to university?
The activities were extremely helpful for familiarising myself with the campus. I was so familiar I ended up applying for a job in the Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement department! The events and connections helped with my confidence. Before my course started I had a temporary job in the student union and a volunteer placement with Active Student.
What made you choose Brighton?
I decided to study in Brighton after attending a UCAS fair with a friend. I ended up talking to a lady named Penny who made me feel very valued. She was so enthusiastic, I knew that I’d feel welcome in Brighton.
How is your experience of university life?
I cannot say enough great things about University of Brighton. I had a hugely difficult time when I experienced a bereavement in my family. I struggled with my mental health so I withdrew from my course. The support department kept in contact with me and when I felt able to apply again I opted for a PGCert. I interrupted after one module due to illness and job loss and eventually completed my PGCert in Inclusive Arts Practice in 2019. It was quite a journey! I then reapplied to complete my masters.
How are you managing your finances at university?
I always knew that I wanted to study part-time because I want to earn as I learn. I work in administration in Kent and attend most of my lectures virtually, so I save a lot on travel.
What are the highlights of your course so far?
Honestly, I love my whole course. My lecturers are very inspiring and I’m close to my classmates – there is a feeling of community on my course. I particularly liked presenting my research poster in the Tate Exchange, although it was very emotional. I grew up in a household where university was not seen as an achievable goal, and here I was in a museum and people were reading my words!
How do you plan to use your course in the future?
While studying Inclusive Arts Practice, I started reflective writing for assessment. I found a love for writing, and after I finish my masters I’d like to do a Doctorate in Education with focus on reflective writing for resilience and wellbeing. Since I started writing I’ve been published in my favourite magazine, two anthologies and I freelance on sexual health and intimacy, donating my earnings to the university.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying for university?
The first thing is to make your own path. I dropped out of college as a teenager, spent the next 15 years working in offices, went back to college in my 30s, dropped out of university and then reapplied to do a postgraduate course! I am one of only two people I know who has done postgraduate study without a bachelors degree.
My second piece of advice is to ask questions. I asked the widening participation team what support I was entitled to, I asked the Students' Union if I could stand for a post before my course started, I asked my lecturers what academic support I could receive, I asked the library for help with research and study skills, I asked the support department for counselling, I asked the university for a job as I studied and I continue to ask for help when I need it.