Return of the student
Postgraduate study can be a challenging prospect for any student, but coming back to study after a gap of several decades can be both daunting and rewarding.
Frank Stewart graduated from medicine at Edinburgh in 1965, and after a long career practicing as a doctor, retired at the age of sixty.
With an ongoing interest in languages, and having heard good things about the languages department, he applied again to Edinburgh and embarked on a new university adventure.
In October 2003 I turned up for Freshers’ Week. I managed to persuade the ushers on the door of the McEwan Hall at the introductory meeting that I was a student and not a parent, and so was allowed in. It slowly dawned on me that most of my fellow-students were younger than my own children, and on emerging into the sunlight I realised with astonishment that parents waiting outside were younger than I was.
With age comes wisdom
Despite the age difference, Frank found that he was accepted by his fellow classmates and teaching staff and though some of his tutors and professors were younger than him, neither party found this to be a difficult relationship and he developed friendships which have endured.
It was important for me to be myself and not try to ‘act young’ and be one of the lads. I graduated in McEwan Hall in 2007, forty-two years after the fragment of John Knox’s breeches had first touched my scalp.
Ronald Cramond came back to the University after an even longer gap, having graduated for the first time in 1949.
The first time round, Ronnie couldn’t afford to socialise and at most would occasionally go to the men’s union on a Saturday evening after rugby for a half pint.
I put pressure on myself to study hard. I was the first in my family to go to university and the hope was that I would get a white collar job upon graduating.
A curious mind
After retiring from a long career in the civil service, Ronnie approached the History department with a research project to investigate the motivation for creating the Museum of Scotland, and the educational effectiveness of its history content for the visiting public.
He had been involved with the museum as a trustee since its creation and wanted to evaluate its effectiveness. Ronnie carried out 121 interviews in the process.
Doing this research allowed me to study something I was interested to find out anyway, with the structure and support which came with working with the university.
Never too late
With support from academics at Edinburgh including Professor Tom Devine, Ronnie’s advice to current students is to,
remember how privileged you are to attend university and to have access to such an education.
Postgraduate study can be a route down a new career path, a way to progress in a chosen profession or a way to explore further interests after retirement.
Register to come along to our Postgraduate Open Day on 21st November 2014 to find out about our postgraduate programmes and meet staff and students.
Remember that alumni who completed their undergraduate degree at Edinburgh are eligible for a discount on tuition fees.