For a mature student, university can be a different experience from that of a student just leaving college or sixth form. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be a rewarding learning and living experience, as Matthew LeDoux-Deakin explains.
Why Derby? I hear you say
I’ve spent over half of my adult life living and working in and around Derby, so choosing the University of Derby to do my BA (Hons) in Business Management was the ideal choice. Depending on what makes you tick, I can bet that you can find it in Derby or the surrounding areas. Whether you are the sporty type and want to rock climb or kayak or you are enjoying a slower pace of life like me and like a good coffee shop to people watch from – Derby and Derbyshire has it all.
As a mature student with young kids
Over the years, my tastes and requirements have changed. In my 30s, with young children, there was an abundance of activities, clubs and venues for the children to be involved in – from scouting and guiding to Sunday football and dance and drama. This also provided me with some great opportunities to make new friends and gain valuable volunteering opportunities for my CV.
Then, when the kids were in bed, or a baby-sitter was booked, there are some great bars, clubs and pubs to meet up in or make new friends. My favourites were The Flowerpot for some great live music and Nando’s or a curry down Normanton Road. There is also everything from sports teams to craft clubs or am-dram to become a part of. And, of course, family days out to Chatsworth, Drayton Manor and Alton Towers to keep myself young.
As the kids got older
Now, as I get older and the kids are drifting away from home, I’ve found that my wife and I can find some great restaurants to eat in. My particular favourites are Darley’s for a romantic treat and The Markeaton pub for a pint and a good meal. There are clubs where we don’t feel like the grandparents in the room like The Venue, a lively evening environment, along with some great walks and bike rides to keep the joints moving, whether it’s a run around Darley Park or a bike ride at Carsington.
Being centrally located, Derby is also in a fantastic location for friends and family living all over the country to converge. Housing is good quality and fairly priced and, for post-degree and intern work, within an hour’s commute you have leading companies such as Rolls-Royce, Bombardier, Toyota, Bet365, JCB and Molson Coors Brewery. This gives you access to thousands of job opportunities there or at other local companies.
Balancing being a student with having a personal life
The most important lesson I have learned is the importance of having that work-life balance. The key is planning and joining in. Planning doesn’t have to be complicated. A calendar shared with my wife ensures we both know if the other has something planned coming up.
I use a simple timetable planner from the internet where I put in time for my lectures, seminars, workshops and my self-led learning time for each topic that I’m studying that semester. Then I balance it out with ‘me time’, my part-time work and time for my family.
As far as joining in, if you aren’t sure what or how, Fresher’s week is a great showcase for the clubs and societies on offer, both at the University and in the community. I’d recommend the Mature Students Society but, if there isn’t a society that you fancy, then it’s easy to start one. I’m thinking of starting a Coffee Shop Club next year because I do love a flat white and a chat.
Why Derby – in a nutshell
So, Derby has:
- D – diversity, something there for everyone
- E – employability, whether it’s part time during studies or for after graduation, Derby is in a great place to access thousands of opportunities
- R – relaxing, from great days out to great meals
- B – beautiful, with great architecture in the city and its surrounding towns and villages and easy access to the Derbyshire Dales and Staffordshire Moorlands
- Y – yearning to give you a home, further education and a great future