"They’re a breath over 21 and too young to realise that actually, 21 is still incredibly smol"Jasmine Charles with permission for Varsity

Half of my personality during my time at Cambridge has revolved around me being a mature student. I entered university as a fresh twenty-seven-year-old and I will leave at a fermented thirty (flirty and thriving, goddammit!) And during my time here, I may not have been able to top the Who-kins whatever, excel at sports, write an essay of even average skill, be mentally stable or remain consistent with basic hygiene. But what I have been able to do is identify six different types of Cambridge mature students, and really, who even needs a BA when I could just cite this article on my CV sixteen times instead?

The im(mature, I swear!) student

They’re a breath over 21 and too young to realise that actually, 21 is still incredibly smol (babe no, you don’t have your full frontal lobe yet) but too old to not have a complex about it. They’ll gaze at their 19-year-old peers, cheeks aflush, wondering…can the teens smell all that rot on me? Maybe they’ll drunkenly confess to you in the Cindies smoking area…I’m actually 21 *sqee*. They’ll have a quarter life crisis when they graduate at twenty-three and to that, I say, oh hun — wait until you hit twenty-five.

“Who even needs a BA when I could just cite this article on my CV”

The Steve Buscemis

 A supposed twenty-year-old sits beside you and chirps: “how do you do, fellow kids?” Oh, look at that person, their face, you think, how collagen-filled and sprite, just like I. They smile and rivulets of crows’ feet carve across their skin, then they’re opening their mouths, gabbering millennial things, like how SexyBack by Justin Timberlake was a cultural reset. Pre-Cambridge, Buscemis probably failed to live out sixteen different life fantasies until they realised a degree would probably be useful to, you know, get their parents to stop crying themselves to sleep with disappointment each night.


Mountain View

The two faces of Cambridge

The overachieving career changers

 They used to be an astronaut-painter-mathematician until they woke up one Wednesday and decided that Greek theology was their calling. They’ll be so paranoid that you’ll mistake them for your new DoS that their backstory is permanently quivering behind their lips, in wait. They’ll be twice the age of a typical fresher but have more spark than all the youth of five standard age colleges smushed together. They will outfox all of their peers because their brains are throbbing and carved with experience and real-world knowledge, the kind the rest of us could only dream of.

The parents

 They will get their essays in on time, ferry their A grade kids to their A grade schools, clean the house, and cook a six-course meal before you’ve even rolled out of your unwashed bed. Just stand on King’s Parade at 3pm and see who is dashing through town having realised Ollie needs picking up, absolutely beside themselves that their supervision ended one minute over time. If you want to attract a parent, start complaining about something innocuous, and they will proverbially punch you in the face with perspective, reminding you that they begot other humans from their flesh, and all you, the pathetic adult-child, managed to do today was cook a throbbing plate of filled pasta.

“Half of my personality has revolved around being a mature student”

PhD Peter Pans

Jittery. Pale. Tender. Often found lurking in the backs of coffee shops. The PPPs, they know the real world is out there but they’re still wanting to be shielded from it. PwC recruiters lie dormant in their inboxes like sleeping lions, paws beckoning them towards overpriced London flats and coffee breaks with Jill from finance. By now they thought, I dunno, they’d have discovered the next big neutron statistical literature theory and they’d be doing, like, Ted Talks and podcast interviews but — I mean no, honey, it’s okay, don’t start crying. Let’s go to Town and Gown and I’ll ask you nice, niche questions about nice, niche things.

Master cowards

No, they didn’t want to do a Master’s for the AcAdEmIc RiGoUr. They’ve just gotten old enough to know better and don’t want to face things like council tax and annual leave and line managers, so they’ve jumped into a masters in the anatomy of the ideological biological makeup of female left toes, or something. MCs feel at the top of the university hierarchy. Experienced enough to have academic ease in their bones, but not so old that they can’t party like it’s 2019 and get weird looks in clubs. The decision awaits. Paths diverge. Stay the course and end up a PhD Peter Pan or wipe a single tear from their eye, get on that one-way train to London any go for a brew with Jill from finance? Your coffee is ready. Jill awaits.