ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact

A 46-YEAR-OLD undergraduate has reportedly sat through a two-hour lecture without raising his hand to ask a question.

The Bachelor of Arts student, Graeme Travett, attended the 11am anthropology class at the University of Queensland last month – only to find that the professor knew more than he did.

“It was quite a surprise,” said Mr Travett.

“The lecture was actually pretty insightful and I took down six pages of notes,”

“I thought I knew a lot about the first white contact with the Kamilaroi people,” he said.

“Turns out I didn’t,”

Mature-age students traditionally enjoy telling the rest of the class mundane, irrelevant stories about their families or children, with most arriving annoyingly early to lectures to secure a prime seat in the front row – while others even find it acceptable to bring their young children to the library.

That’s why fellow student, 19-year-old Rebekkah French says it was a relief not have a lecture constantly interrupted by a mature-age student.

“He showed great self-control,” said Ms French.

“We could see he really wanted to add his two cents but he stopped himself,”

“If only all older students could do that – or at least save their bullshit for postgrad.”

Mr Travett says he plans on asking fewer questions in the future.

“I’ve gotten a lot of praise for keeping my mouth shut during that lecture,” says Mr Travett.

“I might start drinking between classes like the other students do,”

Travett is due back in class for his penultimate year of study in March and says he’s looking forward to his future career.

“I can’t wait to be an anthropologist,” he said.

“Indiana Jones was really big for me when I was growing up and this is something I’ve always wanted to do.”



  1. I love your work man! This is one of your best. I’ve sat through so many painful lectures with mature age students, and you’ve put this together perfectly.

  2. What about this headline: Young student finds lecture more interesting than Facebook status update, pulls their weight in group work and hands work in early. Hell just froze over!

  3. As a full-time university lecturer who has both undergraduate and postgraduate students…..I say congratulations!!! Most of my undergrad lectures have mature aged students, and there are several who are exactly like the student intros story. You nailed it!!!

    • As a full-time university lecturer I am grateful to any student asking questions. If they tend to waffle on it is probably because they aren’t great speakers, this is where I come in and ask them to get to the point. I would prefer a mature age student asking a lot of questions than me continually talking to a room full of international students that cannot understand a word I say. By and large undergrads (in my experience) are too shy/inexperienced to make contributions and engage in the learning process. As a consequence they distance themselves, play with laptops and phones and miss key points vital to their development. I realize this is a complete generalization and that some undergrads are keen and willing of course, but not in the majority, at least where I am.

      • “I would prefer a mature age student asking a lot of questions than me continually talking to a room full of international students that cannot understand a word I say.”

        Sounds a bit racist to me. Why are you assuming they don’t understand?

      • I am a mature age student who has just finished my degree and I am now a post grad student. It truly annoys me when I sit in a lecture and see so many people on their phones, iPads etc using social media. It’s rude and very distracting. I also do find it annoying when you have one or two students who constantly interrupt the flow of a lecture by commenting or asking irrelevant questions. However, I think it’s great that people ask questions because usually it’s a question I’m wondering about myself. I’m usually very quiet in lectures unless it’s something that I am confused about. There are always a couple of students and, it can be any age who like to be heard , usually the lecturer will say “ok let’s get back to the lecture” to end the conversation. I say to those who moan about mature students is don’t knock them because we have a wealth of knowledge and life experience which you might find useful at some point in your studies. I know I’m always happy to help the younger student in any way I can if they ask.

      • Maybe the “room full of international students that cannot understand a word I say” are only doing the unit because it’s a doddle so they can get some points up and they couldn’t care less what you are saying. After all, the uni needs their money. They have come from cultures thousands of years old, and each of your lectures has by now evolved in their culture to be covered by a single phrase, or sound.

        • This is why I would never teach. Teaching people not interested in learning sounds like hell. I dislike sharing classes with them let alone teaching them. Really wish lecturer’s/teacher’s would throw them out more often. I’ll take mature students asking irrelevant questions over people giggling in class over instagram. You bitches are annoying as fuck.

  4. well you really nailed it I your title – mature aged student…as opposed to the many, many, many immature little spoiled brats who I had to suffer in silence with while I worked three jobs, raised a child alone, and went to school full time. I think your post is absolutely disgusting and your take on mature aged students is embarrasing and ridiculous. Grow up already.

    • And yet, despite your own experience, the stereotype of mature age students remains strong. They continue to present their own life experience as content to a lecture, either to reinforce their own learning of course content (or justify the lack thereof), or to assert some kind of misguided dominance over the students or faculty staff. As much as some of your off-topic questions or stories may interest you, most lecturers work within tight time constraints. It would be best to bring you concerns or questions to a lecturer after the lecture has finished.

      As a spoilt brat in my twenties, I have found that the matured aged student population is often more of a problem than many of my peers when it comes to group work, simply for the reasons you willingly highlight in your comment; they take on too many responsibilities and spread themselves too thin, and they have an (over)abundance of pride in their life achievements/struggles which reduce their willingness to accept ideas from others.

    • …Jude proceeded to lower his/her hand as the auditorium watched on in silence. Once again the “spoiled brats” whose inability to procure jobs in an impossible economy and whose future still lay uncertain, subject to the whims of hedonistic baby-boomer generation, sat in silence as they were told what was what by just such a privileged ass.

    • Wow, y’all need to chill. This post was obviously in fun and not to be taken seriously. Yes, being a mature age student and working several jobs while raising a child is hard, and I applaud you for your dedication. But don’t hate on freshies because you don’t know what that person is going through. I have it just as hard as you, but I know a joke when I see one. We have the piss taken out of us daily with all the typical Gen Y stereotypes floating about. We don’t whine, we just head back to our obvious meaningless existence to marinate in our mediocrity.

    • Oh Jude, I really hope you don’t bring your ageist, superiority/martyr you-against-the-world complex to the workforce once you graduate. You may find that a little humour and introspection is necessary when working with others.

    • well said Jude. No doubt the author ia an immature student from the Facebook Generation who thinks just because some nondescript site publishes their drivel, they are making an important contribution.

    • This sums up mature students perfectly. Calm down Jude, mature students are annoying AF and say a lot of irrelevant and self indulgent stuff from their own lives in lectures. It’s like this desperate demonstration of all the reasons why they deserve respect. If younger students prefaced their questions with stories from the weekend it would be obnoxious too, but there’s something about the mature student experience that makes those guys feel they’ve got something to prove (nobody gives AF about it, just shut up and let us listen to the lecturer)

    • Guess you should have completed your education and found a decent job before having that child. Maybe then you wouldn’t be bitter about your failed life. Newsflash- decisions have consequences!

  5. This is not the twelve dimension of hell I am looking for, however Jude’s failure to understand humour or even see his/her reflection in the mirror does give me hope.

  6. LOL. I think Jude failed to see the humor that was quite obviously there in this article. There were more than a few people like Mr Travett in my art history classes, so complain all you like, there is some truth to it!

    • Lol, that’s great. So there were lots of mature aged students who sat through a lecture without asking any questions – like Mr Travett.

      • Gazza, it’s funny how you think you’re funny, or that anyone gives a fuck about your comments, you’ve posted so many, all of which are about a year fucken late. I myself doubt you’ll read this but hell, thought I should let you know you are an idiot.

  7. I’m 47, and have worked in a management role in media for 15 years. (You know- when your professors tell you there are ‘lots of opportunities’ in the industry? Yeah… I’m one of those ‘lots’ of ‘opportunities’) Thanks! I knew there was a reason I don’t employ young university graduates. Well. The whole ‘intern’ thing is good. Once they can make me good coffee and suck up enough, maybe I’ll pay them. Older people, however, get paid! Life sucks, right?

  8. Very amusing post. I had made the same observations about tendencies of some of the vocal mature aged students in lectures when I was in undergrad myself.

    Imagine my horror when, going back to uni as an older-student in postgrad classes (at least, older than thise who had gone straight from undergrad to postgrad) I began to notice myself doing some of the same things! Refering to my experiences in the working world when making comments in class possibly more than was strictly necessary, for example…

    Upon recognising the similarities, I made a concious effort to avoid this in the future!

    • How is it bad that you used life experiences in forming questions?

      The only reason younger undergrad students don’t do this is because they don’t have any experiences to speak of. It’s not their fault of course, by definition they’re young and therefore have experienced less life.

  9. LOL. God, I remember the very annoying middle age students when I was at uni. And I have sense enough to know that if I was to go back now, I’d totally be one of them! From the back seat of the lecture hall mucking around and writing notes to my friends (pre smart-phone days), to the front-seated question-asker. However, I’d be more than happy to have the piss taken because of it! Anyone who makes lectures or tutes last longer than necessary deserves s good ribbing!

  10. You see, when these young people leave university and turn up at their first job acting like they’re Karl Marx because they plagiarised the communist manifesto in their dissertation, most of us just roll our eyes and cringe at the thought that we were too once that immature,naive and self centred. That’s not enough for everyone though. Some of us want revenge on these little Hitler’s and that is when the mature student is born. With the professional arrogance of a 21 year old graduate combined with the dress sense of a 65 year old right wing politician, the mature student exacts his revenge by highlighting what it would be like to be at university with your dad. Of course if young people could just pull their heads out of their backsides for 5 minutes and grow up, mature students would not be necessary.

  11. To be honest on balance if I think back to when I was at university as a non mature student, the majority of the mature students were more organised, committed, helpful, didn’t interrupt when it wasn’t necessary and were considerably easier to deal with than students my own age (other than one exception, and an alcoholic). They got higher marks as well..

    On the other hand, I had a good time, passed, found a decent job and am now of mature student age myself (but have no intention of returning).

  12. Mature aged students actively taking part in lectures and the learning process eh? Who woulda thunk it? Guess they should just quietly nap, check their facebook, or try to recover from hangovers like all the immature age students eh?

    The major difference is that the older students are there because they want to be and worked to get there. Many (not all) of the younger ones are there because mummy and daddy expected it of them and would much rather be elsewhere.

  13. young people should be banned from university until they are 30 and can appreciate the opportunity and learn to participate and contribute. ..the sense of entitlement is appalling

    • Wooooooah, we all need to remember this was just light hearted humour. Also having just graduated and worked damn hard, I would like to remind all the “youth haters” on this comment list, that not all of my generation are time wasters, or spoilt. I have had to work during my education since I was 16, and had many difficulties, I have worked my butt off fr my degree alongside many diligent “old” and “young” students. I see the stereotype made for both sides here, but it is just that, it’s not a written rule for everyone. Think people need to calm down, especially seeing as mature students are getting angry and commenting on here with sweeping statements on my generation about how we are all “spoiled” and immature. That is kind of hypocritical for you to then whine about being slung in with a stereotype.

  14. They nailed this perfectly. All the comments just show who the mature age students are. They are worse in tutorials. However they redeem themselves when the answer lecturers questions

  15. Wow, as a normal 19 tear old student from the U.K I can on one hand confirm that the mature students on MY course fit all the stereotypes in this article and then some. Some of the comments made here, namely the ones which mention that students of my age feel ‘self entitled’ to a good standard of higher education prove exactly why many people think mature students should be in separate classes or have different schedules/timetables (depending on what side of the the ‘pond’ you hail from). I’m sorry but to you I say that it is now harder than ever to secure a place in University than ever before, so you can take your bollocks about selfentitlement to your private ageist gatherings. We have to fight for places in higher education, so please leave us to it. On the other hand I also feel like there is a lot of real world experience that mature students can offer someone of my age, and I’ll welcome that experience and take it on board (as long as it is given as general advice rather than condescending and patronising quips at my expense). And to the commenter who said that they don’t hire ‘Young university graduates’, it is narrow minded people like yourself sir who are aiding in making the graduate employment line, thus your nations employment line grow evey year (think about that next time you have a great ‘coffee’ made by a young intern struggling with bills which they have to pay with their night shift job, like me) just realise when you are old and grey(er) they’ll be in your seat furthering the potential of that business by employing fresh minds and mixing that with the experience of older workers.

    Peace from Northern Ireland.

  16. Its the holidays. I’m surprised you kids have the time to post on threads such as this. Shouldn’t you be checking on my fries or preparing my next coffee? I actually try to keep my mouth shut in lectures so I can hear all of your insightful stories on how the world is or how it ought to be. Unfortunately I dont get to hear much from you kids anymore because no one made it past 1st year except the mature aged students. Perhaps you guys should take some of your own advice and shut up and listen every once in a while and you might actually pass a subject or two. Believe it or not but people actually communicate using thier mouths in the real world so you may eventually have to consider listening to what someone else has to say. In the meantime enjoy the shit sandwich fucktards. Oh and yes I would like fries with that.

  17. A friend emailed me this article as I am a 47 yo student (psychology, no less). Laugh? I nearly cried. The number of times I have bitten my tongue in order to avoid imparting my considerable perceived wisdom! It’s hard for us oldies, we are compelled to talk; mostly about ourselves. I am lucky in that I have a world-weary 19yo daughter who I can run things past and she assures me it’s cool to keep my mouth shut so that is what I do and we’re all happier for it. Seriously, this was a very funny article and I loved reading it.

  18. In my OU tutor group we have a young student who does not shut up, she interrupts constantly and thinks she knows everything and spends her time telling everyone she has chosen not to go to ‘proper uni’ ( yes she even does the finger commas) it’s so bad very few people go to out tutor group! So what I’m trying to say is there are people like that in all walks of life and we all have to learn to live with each other!

  19. There is nothing wrong studing when you are older.Everyone had dreams and one learn from cradle to grave.

  20. Meanwhile in every class, all the kids are looking up facebook or where to find the microwave on campus.
    Who wud u rather as ur nurse or health professional, the person who asked all the questions and knows their shit to a tee, or the 18yo whos super good at updating their Facebook

  21. Oh wow I love it when I go to uni and everyone is so quiet and can’t be arsed being there- good luck in the real world where you actually have to contribute to society and surprise, surprise…. EARN A LIVING!

    You’ll all be whittled out when your employer realises you a) can’t think for yourself b) show initiative c) give a fuck and show some commitment. Trust me, I work in HR and I see it all the time!

    But what would I know, I’m only a mature age student!!

  22. As a MA student myself, if I didn’t answer the lecturers questions, chances are nobody would. Every time the lecturer asks a question, I wait 10 seconds for the vacant eyed juniors who never read their readings to speak up. When they invariably squirm under the scrutiny, I generally attempt to answer the question. This is how we learn after all, by testing our knowledge and theories. As for life experiences… Lol. As if I would want to share those with a bunch of people who don’t even care about what they are supposed to be studying enough to actually put some effort into it and not settle for “Ps get degrees!”

  23. As a mature age student (dont know if you would consider mid 20s as a first year “mature” in the sense most people are talking about), I’ve found that the kids fresh out of high school tend to be unattentive and cliquey. I don’t comment on my children or lack thereof, work, or anything of the sort, because it’s unnecessary. I know the older ones do, and it does slow our classes down, but hey, I’m not there to judge. I’m there to study and get out, so I can spend less time feeling like I’m at pre-school because I went back to get an education.

  24. A friend of mine sent me a link to this article a few days ago. I’ve printed out a few copies, one for each of my ring binders I use for each subject. I hope that a few of the preppie kids will get the subtle digs at them in there as well when they read it over my shoulder as I sit my mature arse in the front row of the lecture theatre. Whilst the digs (valid in many cases I have seen anecdotally) at mature aged students are plain to see, the digs at the preppies are nuanced. But then if you haven’t read the article critically you wouldn’t see that. I’m almost sad that I don’t have any spawn to relate pointless anecdotes about to drive the kiddies to distraction. It’s probably a kindness on my behalf not inflicting continuing my line on the rest of humanity.

    Mr Parker, thank you for the laughs 🙂

  25. Perhaps I am not fully appreciating the ‘tongue-in-cheek’ tones here and I dare not ask a question in order to (as a mature age student), however, surely we shouldn’t be discouraging ANYONE from bettering themselves through education? There are annoying people everywhere….get used to it!

  26. It was a long time ago but I found being a mature-age student very hard… mostly for the reasons this article jokingly highlights. When you have considerable life experience, accumulated knowledge and the confidence of having worked with and for or even employed a wide variety of people, dealt with children, spouses, teachers, government departments, businesses and everyone else adults learn to deal with it’s hard to be humble enough to except that someone standing at the front of a lecture hall (who may be your age or younger) has to treat you and your opinions as if they exist in a vacuum. The hardest thing was understanding that my experience cannot be referenced in a paper. “Because I said so” only works with your kids (sometimes). Every opinion I expressed had to be based on someone else’s expressed knowledge and referenced accordingly.

    Have a bit of sympathy for those who have to go back to a place in their lives where they suddenly have to justify every idea. It’s an enriching experience… it taught me (and I suspect most other mature-age students) that opinions are just that…not facts. No if only our politicians could go back and learn that.

  27. Turns out mature ages students like to put their boring two cents in comments sections too.
    Yeah it is a bit of a generalisation but I can honestly say that there was always one mature aged student like this in most classes I’ve had. Being old does not make you the smartest person in the room.

  28. I have been attending on and off campus for the last fifty years, moving with the demands of technology, ideas and obtaining new skills and of course qualifications. When I first started out in my teens I was keen student, asked lots of questions, in short interacted and connected well with the lecturers. I wanted to do well, stay ahead of the pack – I did. Today, at sixty – five I feel no different, though, I confess now, I do what I want, when I want and can afford it. Furthermore, I now mentor students and when in group situations I like to believe they see me as an asset rather than a liability.

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