‘I’m not too young to be here’: Meet the 16-year-old fresher
She’s turning 18 in 2nd year
Uni can be stressful: think coursework, exams and poor job prospects.
Now imagine all of that but you’re unable to drink — because you’re only 16-years-old.
Meet Anna Thomson, an International Business fresher from Falkirk who arrived at uni this year as a young teen.
Instead of doing her Highers, she skipped a year and started her courses aged just 16, living in halls with students at least 20.
We chatted with her about dealing with tutors, sneaking into bars and dodging creepy fourth years.
Anna actually applied to uni while in fifth year before sitting her Highers.
“In school I was friends with a lot of really bitchy girls so I wanted to leave, but I didn’t want to work for a year.
“I knew if I came to uni I could move away from home. I thought I might as well apply and I ended up getting in.”
If the prospect of moving away from home at 16 wasn’t daunting enough, Anna didn’t end up in normal halls: she was landed in a flat in private accommodation with flatmates who are all at least 20.
Some of her new friends were uncomfortable getting to know her as a teenager.
“A lot of people I’m friends with are English, so they don’t really understand. I have to sit explaining why I could leave school at 16. They don’t mind, some of them, but others have a weird issue with it.
“In freshers, a lot of people are like ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter’. But as the year went on I’d make friends with people and they’d ask me if I wanted to go out. If I had ID, it was fine.”
Others have been a bit more hostile towards Anna, because of her age.
“Some people don’t want to be friends with someone younger because they think I’ll be rejected from a club or a bar and we’ll have to leave.
“A guy at a party told me that I was too young to be there and that I don’t belong at uni.”
Although she was able to celebrate her 17th birthday in October, she’s still unable to legally buy booze. And it isn’t just Anna’s social life that is affected by her age: she doesn’t have lots of useful previous knowledge in her courses because she skipped her Advanced Highers.
“You get quite a lot of sympathy from tutors and stuff. My business tutor was really nice when I said I hadn’t done the course at school because I didn’t do Advanced Highers.
“Sometimes I’ve been out and there’s been really creepy fourth years, it’s really good to be like ‘I’m only 17.’
“When I think about the future, I’ll graduate before I’m 21. A lot of people I know are 24 and in third year.”
We can safely assume Anna’s eighteenth in second year is going to be massive.