A couple of years ago, when I first started university, I had just turned 18. As in, at the end of January I had just turned 18. So I was a brand spanking new, ‘child’, if you like, starting uni.

I get into my labs and I get all the “aweee you’re so little” or that “oh my gosh 18?! I feel so old!”.


I was used to this as I was always the young one in school. From day one, kindergarten, I was one of the younger students, and it just stayed that way. Youngest for my year, and if I had stayed back, I would have been one of the oldest.


Now, Covid-19 hits. I go through my degree being the youngest, I study from home, don’t make many friends and then… I change degrees.


Get ready for it. I start my new degree at 20, not that old right? Right. I do my first year subjects and I fail one. Now it’s okay to fail, and honestly, when you do, you get a chance to understand everything so much better.


So I’m now in my second year of my new degree, part time, and have to repeat a subject… a first year subject.


Holy hell. I’m now 21 in a first year subject. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, I did find it very interesting. I walk into my first lab for the semester and I’m already late because uni life, am I right? I get in, unpack, put on my gloves and whatever else and got ready. One thing that will always annoy me about first year classes… putting in your attendance. So I forgot to do that, but that was okay.


In the background, I had talked to a student on the way in as we were both running late so I asked if I could join her. I like talking and find myself pretty likeable so I thought, woo! First day, first class, and I’ve found my group, that’s a big thumbs up for me!


But uh… it didn’t quite go that way to be honest…

So as we know, I’m in the class and ready for the lesson and I start automatically talking to these girls with a combination of anxious and extrovert energy. I ask names, we go around the “ussh” (usual), and we get underway with the practical side of the class. Then comes the age question… “Just out of high school”, “I’m 17”, “I just turned 18”.


Wait a sec… that was me?! Oh wait… that was me 4 years ago… Holy shit! Am I the “older student?” I thought to myself.


And then it happened, I said my age and that I was repeating and everything changed. I actually wrote another piece on this, where this group turned on me completely because they claimed they “couldn’t keep up with me” and that I just “learn differently”.


It was then I realised what it meant to be an older student. It’s not just your age, really. It’s about your experience and the fact that you know what questions to ask and have some life experience as well. I already knew a bit in the class, so I would ask questions such as “so what actually occurs, then, if someone has carpal tunnel?”. A lot of younger students wouldn’t even think to put their knowledge into a real life situation because, we don’t think that way first off. But because I had a few years on me, I was wanting to know what things would look like in real life, how it would work, and essentially, put the pieces of the puzzle together.


I didn’t even consider myself to be an “older” student. It was only that I was seen differently because of my age AND my experience that I realised how much university can change you and how much you develop your learning skills.


In this case, I want to say hats off to all the students that seem to be “older”. A massive shout out to you. You are the ones that make other people in the class think about situations outside of the class room and apply it in real life. You are the ones who make people think. Truely, I am thankful that I can be the “older” student, and learn and grow still, and I hope you find happiness in knowing that your experience and learning skills pay off. 


Ivy-Rose Laidler

Ivy-Rose Laidler

Hey! My name is Ivy-Rose! I’m the student life columnist and contributor for the Opus mag! I love writing about life as a student, the societal expectations, and experiences that help us grow and shape us to who we are today – as individuals and a collective! When I’m not contributing to Opus, I’m helping out local charity organisations SHIBUI Services and What Were You Wearing as well as creating content!