'I was blown away by how supportive my friends and family were of my plans'

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'I was blown away by how supportive my friends and family were of my plans'

LIT Clonmel first year Petra O’Connell is amongst a group of primary, secondary and third level students writing for the Student Hub section of South Tipp Today in the run up to Christmas.

There is an old saying that ‘life begins at 40’, writes Petra O’Connell in South Tipp Today. But should ‘student life’ begin at 40?

Returning to college as a mature student is never a decision that will be made lightly. I struggled with my plan of embarking on a dream that would affect so many of my loved ones. I had a lot of thoughts such as ‘you had your chance’, ‘are you good enough?’, ‘Can we afford it?’. I worried that ultimately I would be putting financial and emotional strain on my family for something that I felt was quite self-indulgent.

The course (and eventual career) that I yearned for was not even in situ when I left school 23 years ago. I love to draw, I love animation. I became aware of Limerick Institute Technology’s B.Sc. (Honours) in Digital Animation Production on their Clonmel campus. After discussions with my nearest and dearest, the decision was made. I was blown away by how supportive my friends and family were of my plans. There was an abundance of help offered to help me on my way.

Once arriving in college, I must admit to feeling completely in awe and a little envious of the teenagers and early 20 somethings in my class who had the insight and ability to get to this stage at such a young age. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do when I left school, and if I had I probably wouldn’t have had the same self-confidence to pursue it.

Being a mature student makes a difference in class. It makes some things easier - with help from previous life experiences. Others, such as the technical side of things, are a little more difficult. The tutors, however, have been both extremely encouraging and very understanding of my situation. I still receive some raised eyebrows when I tell acquaintances of my decision to return to college full time, but for the most part my new adventure has been met with very positive reactions.

Paulo Coelho wrote about destiny. He said that destiny is what people have always wanted to accomplish. He believes that everyone knows what their destiny is when they are young, that everything is clear to them and that everything they desire is possible: “They are not afraid to dream, and yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realise their destiny.”

So, does life begin at 40? I believe that life is what you make of it, at any age. You only get one chance, so if you realise your destiny at 20, 40, 60 or 80 I say go for it.

LIT Clonmel first year Petra O’Connell is amongst a group of primary, secondary and third level students writing for the Student Hub section of South Tipp Today in the run up to Christmas.