University as a ‘Mature Student’

Returning to university can be quite daunting and surreal so here are a few things to consider to ensure that you make the right decision for yourself.

Why am I writing this blog?

Returning to university for a second time can be a daunting decision, especially if you have been out of higher education for several years, if this is something you are considering read on to find out how the process has been for me so far. I’ll run through the main hurdles during the application process and in another article, I’ll discuss how I have found returning to study!

Step 1: Choose wisely

Okay so you’ve decided you want to be a doctor – for whatever reason this didn’t happen when you initially applied to university but now, with a few more years under your belt, you’re certain you want to give it a go. The first stage is CAREFULLY going through the different options you have. Taking time to review each medical school’s admission criteria is especially important for the graduate entry courses on offer in the UK as the criteria can be dramatically different from the undergraduate medical courses. Some require specific GCSE grades; some don’t care about GCSE grades. Some require specific A-level grades, some don’t care about A-level grades. Some require specific work experience, some require none. Some require specific degree classifications; some couldn’t care less!

This may sound obvious but it’s very important that you don’t waste time applying to universities whose minimum entry criteria you do not meet. Spend some time carefully going through these with a fine-tooth comb as some have very particular requirements. If you’re unsure whether you meet the requirements get in touch with the university and have it clarified for you.

Step 2: An odd exam…

Once you’ve found a university that will accept you based on your academic achievements and work experience there is another bridge to cross, an exam that you need to do in order to be considered for interview. I am not going to go into detail about these exams as that would require a whole article in itself however what I will say is look into the different exams available and again look at which universities accept which exams as this could influence your application decisions. For myself this was simple, I picked the exam that I thought I could do well in and limited my university choices accordingly. For others you may only be looking at applying to a specific university – in which case you will have no choice but to prepare for the exam that the university asks for. Whichever exam you choose to sit give yourself adequate preparation time, there are tonnes of resources online and with enough practice I firmly believe anyone can do well. The exams are famously difficult however like anything if you put enough time into it you can do really well.

Step 3: An interview?

Okay so you’ve picked your university choices, you’ve smashed your entrance exam, and now you’ve been called up for interview. Do as much research as you can about what the interview will entail, chat to older year students, email the medical school and ask for as much detail as possible. If you manage to get to the interview stage, I think mature students have an ace up their sleeve at this point. You’ve already done a degree, you may have already worked for a while, you have more life experience under your belt, whether you realise this or not this is something that comes across in interview. This is especially apparent if you are interviewed alongside undergraduate students (as I was) – I felt that this was an opportunity to really sell myself. Again spend ample time preparing for the interview as this is the final hurdle. Spend time researching typical medical school interview questions, run through scenarios with friends and family – take this as seriously as possible – it’ll be worth it.

Step 4: An offer?

If you get to this stage hats off to you, I’m sure there’s lots to be thinking about before the course starts – keep an eye out for further articles discussing how the journeys going for me!

Alex Pearson
Sheffield University

About The Author

Alex is a qualified Pharmacist and current graduate entry medical student. Outside of his work and studies he enjoys traveling and mixing records.

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