Study leave. That dreaded time when the impending exams drawing ever so close invoke a cold sweat that trickles down your spine, indicating your feeble attempts to grasp those last valuable nuggets of information to make exams less terrifying have failed. Well, at least that is how I used to feel as a teenager.
What has changed now that I am a mature student?
Firstly, that infernal ticking time bomb of a clock with its weedy little fingers wrapping around my pumping heart has not changed at all! My attitude to the fear has indeed lessened thanks to better preparation and less stressing out. One great thing about being older is that you learn not to sweat the smalls so much. I’m a great believer in things happening at the right time and our influence over circumstances, up to a certain extent. For example, taking the premise of my studies and how to approach historical objects, we observe, interpret and communicate what is there to be seen and the information gathered or already known about an object. If I take that same approach to my exam paper, I will observe the same, interpret the question and communicate my answer accordingly.
But, what about the examiner’s focus and personal opinion to my answers?
Will they agree or disagree with what I have said?
All I can do to ensure a positive outcome is to take on board their personal evaluations of the questions and their supplied feedback on what they wanted from us students, then deliver the same. The rest is left up to their interpretation of my answers and whether or not they agree or disagree with my communication of the same. In other words, don’t sweat the smalls.
Having a decent amount of knowledge on the subjects helps a great deal – something I should have figured out as a teen but didn’t! The purity of setting aside studying time has not developed over my many years on this earth and I still struggle to settle down to bury myself in books. Who wants to do that when the sun is shining and their are plants to pot? Or the house needs cleaning? Or…I could go on but I’m sure you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. I’m excellent at procrastinating. The time set aside for studies is depleting like sand in a timer. As it trickles away, I scramble to catch up with the chapters and retain what little information sticks to my gravelly old grey matter to help me pass these infernal exams.
How does it feel to study with your own children?
My final perspective on being a mature student is the competition between my sprogs and myself to do well. So far, I have attained a first for my first half of the first year. This second half has seen me progress towards a first with little wiggle room left to achieve it. I want to get it to prove to those little mites that anyone can do it – even an old frog like me! It gives them incentive to try harder and yes, I do enjoy being called a ‘nerd’ or a ‘swot’ which is totally different to when I was younger and these words weren’t as complimentary. Now, I revel in those names and try to push harder to keep them. That’s a big change and one that I value because that drive is needed to keep me going not only in my studies but in my writing too, especially when I’m exhausted.
In all, becoming a mature student has taught me to value family life and free time. My free time gives me opportunities to learn more about this world and open my mind to improving in my writing and learning skills. Of course, it completely changes the meaning of the word free time, but I think it’s open to interpretation. Watching my children struggle through their studies reminds me not to take things for granted. I am on my second wind and they are just starting out. This is very difficult and confusing at the best of times. I think I’ve learned not to push them as hard as I used to (I was a bit of a tiger mum!) and to understand that everyone learns in a different way. Look at me – I prefer pottering and them coming back to my studies every few hours with a fresh mind that has stewed on the ideas from before. It gives them time to take root and stick around for longer than five seconds. Looking at the sprogs, they have different ways of understanding what they learn too and it gives me a chance to show them that it’s okay to be different and to study in their own way. As long as we all enjoy the process, it doesn’t feel like hard work and therefore produces better results.