Starting university after 20 at Mac Is it too late for me to fulfil the university experience if I am a year behind to start?

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By: Catarina Gonzalez

For most freshmen, this may not be as relevant. But for those of you who were hesitant to explain why you are older than most at Welcome Week and did not want to go through the trouble of explaining why, this one’s for you.

Recently a Reddit user on r/McMaster posed a question on making friends at McMaster as a 20-year-old freshman — what are the challenges, experiences, and the general consensus regarding the age gap?

McMaster’s subreddit community is a dedicated space for students, staff, alumni and future students to facilitate discussion about various activities, events, disciplines and streams, and ask questions regarding life at Mac or in Hamilton.

I initially missed the thread but I saw it a few days later and it led me to consider the challenges I’ve faced myself as a mature student.

After taking a gap year to focus on working and earning the money to pay for school, I applied to McMaster the following year and faced the same anxieties and concerns as the poster — would I fit in? Would I be too old to relate? Would I be able to make friends?

Though I was only one year behind in the game, the gap gave just gave me more time to multiply the normal stresses that most first years have earlier on.

I didn’t want to feel like an outsider in the first week, and was afraid to come out to the Welcome Week events that I presumed would consist of only fresh high school graduates.

Thankfully, McMaster had several helpful events in order to facilitate social ABC.

After taking a gap year to focus on working and earning the money to pay for school, I applied to McMaster the following year and faced the same anxieties and concerns as the poster — would I fit in?

Welcome Week was just one way to create a networking platform and help create the “life long friendships” that the university experience is supposed to come with

A few helpful Reddit users chimed in and gave their perspective on what it’s like to be a freshman after 20 years old. Most of the users offered a positive outlook and advantageous advice like being able to purchase alcohol for parties (but definitely not for underaged students), and having more life experience than most of your peers.

A few users suggested that most of your peers can’t even tell the age difference usually, and once you get over the initial awkwardness of introducing your age along with your year — people generally didn’t really react or care.

Not unlike high school, the student climate at McMaster is very relaxed and students from different years and disciplines intermingle socially.

Most of us can thnk of a few of our current friend taht we have made in our first year, and for the most part, you are probably unaware of the age gap between fyour group of friends.

Typically when meeting someone, they only ask about your program and not your age, so it wasn’t that difficult to avoid sharing your age and reiterating the reason why you may be older than the bunch.

Above all else, the best advice given in this thread was one user suggesting battling insecurity about your age with confidence — focus on staying true to yourself, and enjoy being able to walk into the LCBO without worrying about whether or not your cousin’s ID looks similar enough to you to pass it off legitimately.

The general consensus is in from this growing McMaster community: people probably won’t even notice, and if they do, they probably won’t even care.

Remember, the university experience is what you make of it. No one needs to know your story if you don’t want to share it.

And to all McMaster freshman of all ages, good luck in your friend-making university experience and remember: it is an experience so don’t be afraid to get out there and enjoy not being ID-ed.

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