What It's Like to Start University 'Late'

Why it's never too late to start working towards a goal
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Created by EsperannceLing

Published on Aug 24, 2023
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''You are 30, so you don't want to go for a 5-year degree because when you finish, you will be 35. Whether you go or not, you'll be 35 in five years.'' 

This message is from a popular tweet that many people come back to when fatigue has caught up to them and their ambitions are knocked down. At the age of 23, seeing this tweet was all I needed to visit the university's website and register.  

A little background on me: a few years ago, after matriculating for university, my parents were unable to send me since there just wasn't enough money. It was a miserable and unpleasant phase since I saw all of my peers move into student housing in different parts of the country away from me, and I was stuck here trying to navigate adulthood. I was in survival mode, and I poured my heart out to an organisation that had essentially financed my whole schooling career up until that point. I was on my knees, pleading that if they paid for this air hostess course, it would change my life and allow me to save money and return to school. Thankfully, they did. Life has a weird way of working things out. After 3 months of hard training, I received that license. However, getting a passport was difficult because I was a foreign national, and my home country was charging a price I couldn’t afford. This drove me into a deep depression, but I moved on. Working at events and trying to enjoy life didn't fill the gap. I felt I needed a corporate job with high benefits, but because I didn't have a degree, I realized I had to return to school. 

Making the decision to return to university was difficult because my tuition, clothing, and transportation would now be entirely on my shoulders. I thought I was prepared for this journey since I knew I would experience numerous hurdles that other students would not. It would be difficult to achieve my ambitions since I did not have financial backing. However,  the culture at university was also difficult to adjust to, especially when dealing with ageism. I rapidly realized that I was the eldest of the people I bonded with. Everyone was either just out of high school or in their very early twenties, which shook my confidence. Was I supposed to be here? All of my age mates were graduating, and I had only just begun. I wondered if my brain was still functional in an educational setting or if I would be better off working at home. 

It didn't take long for me to realise that I needed to completely turn off school as soon as I ended for the day. This is a mental game that many people endure. I began looking at the benefits of my age, and because I’ve had first-hand experience of how cruel life can be, it pushed me to be more disciplined because failing would be a waste of money and time. I placed myself in the shoes of the 84-year-old Kenyan man who was the oldest person to enrol in a primary school; he must have felt so out of place. At least I looked youthful, so cosplaying as an 18-year-old was easy. I admired his perseverance and optimism. This stage drove me to dream even bigger, one day at a time. 

Some people believe it is too late, but that is not the case. If you want something, go for it, work hard, and be prepared to fight along the way because when you achieve that goal, no matter how small, you can look back with pride and say, "I did that." I just finished my first semester of university at the age of twenty-four. I took that step and doubted myself along the road, but I'm holding on to my faith until the finish line.


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