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Too Old To Learn? Nah!
Life as a Mature Student
Life as a Mature Student
Date: 22/10/00, updated on 17/02/03 (47 review reads)
Advantages: Opportunity to learn more.
Disadvantages: Could cost you.
Back in the last century, in 1992 to be exact, at the age of 55 my heart gave me a violent warning that my work schedule was too severe.
Once I escaped from the clutches of the cardiologist with the words, "your working days are over" ringing in my ears, I got home, sat down and looked at the four walls and wondered what to do next.
My answer was to get a computer and as luck would have it an advertisement in the local rag grabbed my attention. College! Screamed the headline and as they say the rest is history.
Having just got a computer the obvious answer was a Computer course and as I've always liked to do a bit of writing, a Creative Writing "O" level course. Just to round things off a course in Computer Programming and a course in what became to be know as IT. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Although the courses were part time lasting 26 weeks, the Computer courses were during the day with the Creative Writing course one evening a week. Being a long term invalid the DSS paid for the courses although I had to pay for the ID card and any exams.
I wasn't too impressed with the classrooms as they were rather shabby but the laboratories were well equipped even if some of the computers belonged to the stone age. I mean a BBC Acorn using the old 5╝" single sided, cardboard covered, floppy disks wasn't exactly top of the range. I'm told that things are much different now with modern computers all over the place.
The first thing that I discovered is that I had forgotten how to learn. Well at 55 we know it all don't we? Oh! Yes! Any learning that I had done during the last thirty odd years had been done on the hoof without really trying. It sort of just happened.
I thought that I would be the only apprentice geriatric but to my surprise there were two people much older than me in Creative Writing. Men, women, boys, girls they were all there and mixed really well. r>
All went well with all the courses except programming. I just couldn't get my head around the concept and had to admit that it wasn't for me. But I did finish the course. Just. That was because this whizz kid helped to push me through. Grand lad who knew his way around binary.
After six months I trotted off home with a handful of "O" level certificates, a determination to do more and a large grin on my face. My cat was unimpressed and I was left with time on my hands.
I enjoyed the experience so much that I signed up again for the Creative Writing "O" level course to keep my hand in before the start of the "A" level course some six months down the line.
No longer a College novice I signed up for "A" level Creative Writing and by then I had learned of this Desk Top Publishing thing. With 12 months of computer experience behind me where I had played around with DTP at home I was able to go straight into "A"álevel DTP. Being an electronic engineer of the old school I thought that getting modernised might be a good idea, so it was "O" level Electronics and for the sheer hell of it Maths just to bring things back to four courses. They have a funny way of teaching maths these days.
12 months later clutching yet another batch of certificates I went home and my cat still wasn't impressed even with two "A" levels.
Now fully versed in computer techniques and DTP, to while away the time I selected Media studies. All went well but half way through the short film that we as a class were producing, my heart decided to remind me to pack it in. C'est la vie.
So for all those people out there having thoughts about going to College - go for it. The tutorial groups (can't call them classes) will be of all ages and from all backgrounds. There will be times when you can help someone out and there will be times when you will need a bit of
extra help. If you're in receipt of invalidity benefit or long term sickness benefit you may find that the DSS will pay for the course. Ask them. They can only say no.
Joining the local College as a part-time mature student or even full time has more advantages than gaining a few certificates. The student's union at the Blackburn College had their own bar and the College shop sold all sorts of writing materials and books which were appreciably cheaper than buying them in local shops. An excellent library was available with tutors on hand to assist the students in their revision. A variety of cafes/restaurants were scattered about the campus as were a multitude of drinks machines and the like.
Looking back I can't really see why I went to College. Maybe like the mountain climber, because the mountain/College was there. I enjoyed my time back at "school" especially as this time round we didn't have to call the tutors Sir or Miss, it was usually on first name terms and there was no detention or cane. But there was homework.
Thanks to everyone who informed me that there was a fault with the way my opinions were being displayed on their screens. That is every other line or so containing just one or two words.
Just got word from DooYoo that it is their problem and they are working on it.