A first-hand account from the Head of our School of Computing and Digital Media

What will it be like to study with teenagers? Will I struggle to keep up? How can I get back into study-mode? Will I get a job at the end of it? Am I too old to study? If you’re thinking about pursuing an undergraduate degree as a mature student, don’t let worries like this hold you back.

At London Met you’ll have your fears put to rest. Boasting a diverse student population, which includes an impressive mature student cohort (almost 70% of our students enrol over the age of 21), no one is “too” anything to start their degree journey and make their ambitions a reality. 

Dr Noel-Ann Bradshaw became our Head of School of Computing and Digital Media in November 2019. Read on to hear Dr Bradshaw’s own story about starting as a mature student, and get the boost you need to make your application without any doubts.

Rekindling a passion for maths

In 2007, at the age of 40, I graduated with a first-class Mathematics BSc  and I couldn’t have been prouder of what I’d achieved.  At school I had enjoyed maths but, not being in the top set, teachers had told me that I shouldn’t apply to do a maths degree at university and I believed them. This disappointing news knocked my confidence and strongly contributed to my failing my Maths A-level. After this, I ended up doing a Higher National Diploma in catering management. I subsequently got married, had four wonderful children and I became a stay-at-home mum. We brought the kids up on various council estates in South London where I initiated several parent and child activities within the local communities. But I wanted more.

Eventually, through helping the children with their schoolwork, I rekindled my love of mathematics.  Whilst retraining as an adult numeracy teacher my tutor recommended that I consider doing a degree. Maths was the obvious subject, despite my not having an A-level in Maths. Some universities offer entrance tests to see if applicants without Maths A-level have sufficient background knowledge, whilst others run maths degree courses that take applicants without the A-level. London Met has both a Mathematics BSc degree course for those with a Maths A-level or equivalent knowledge and a Mathematical Sciences BSc degree course for those without the knowledge of the Maths A-level curriculum but with mathematical potential.

Taking the plunge as a mature student

Despite being nervous to start my degree I passed my entrance test with flying colours. I thought I would be the only student over 20 and was convinced I’d struggle to keep up with the younger students. After all, they’d be fresh from their A-levels and would be able to remember more maths than I could. I’m glad to say I was pleasantly surprised. There were several mature learners and, irrespective of this, the whole cohort got on regardless of our ages and the different stages we were at in life. We were united by a common problem: how to get unstuck when faced with finding a difficult mathematical solution.

I learned so much on my degree, and not just about maths. It was more of a lesson on various strategies for solving difficult problems. I learned that being stuck on a maths problem is not something to fear or feel ashamed about but something to relish and desire because it is precisely there that learning takes place. It was this new discovery that carried me through my degree.

My first year was all about working out how I learned best and taking on the feedback my lecturers gave me. My second year involved building on this and I ended up getting exceptional marks. This was great preparation  for my final year, which saw me tackle some mathematically difficult topics in my final dissertation.

When I embarked on my degree, I thought I would get a third-class degree and maybe go into teaching, but when I graduated with a first-class degree and several prizes, I knew I could achieve anything. I stayed on, began a PhD and started lecturing. Fourteen years later I have a doctorate and a career in university management something that seemed impossible when starting my degree.

My message to any prospective mature students out there is that if I can do it then you can do it too. I was not exceptional, I just focused on my goal and took on board all the advice my lecturers gave me. Remember that you have nothing to lose by talking to us and applying. We’re here to support you to reach your potential and navigate your way from application to graduation. 


Dr Noel-Ann Bradshaw
Head of our School Computing and Digital Media

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