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Graduation stories - life as a mature student

18 August 2015

Mature student Louise Johnstone joined Abertay in 2011 to study for her BSc (Hons) in Physical Activity and Health.

She already ran her own successful personal training business – Louise's PT 4 U – but wanted to help more people become more active and felt that university was the way to do this.

Here, she tells us what life was like as a mature student, about a few challenges she faced while studying for her degree, how she managed to achieve a healthy work-life balance, and what she plans to do next.

Louise's PT 4 U

“Before I joined Abertay, I had been running Louise’s PT 4 U for seven years – a business that I’m extremely proud of.

“I specialise in helping women through the passage of life, at all ages. This means working specifically with women from pre-conception (of the baby), through the pregnancy, postnatally (I created 'Mums On a Mission' – M.O.M – where new mums can bring their new babies along with them to their exercise sessions), following this all the way through to the perimenopausal and post-menopause phase. 

“I run pregnancy M.O.M and post-natal M.O.M classes, and will also be running Dundee's first seminar on pelvic floor health in the near future to help women stay strong for life. 

“In addition, I take personal training sessions – these can be indoors or outdoors depending on the clients’ needs.”

A juggling act

“I took the plunge to go to university as a mature student, as I wanted to help more people.

“Balancing work on my business with studying full-time took a lot of time-management and was very much a juggling act. 

“Unfortunately, due to several personal difficulties and an injury, I had a reoccurrence of some mental health difficulties during my studies. These at times led me to struggle with my commitments and I almost gave up on my degree.

“However, I am known for being stubborn and tenacious, and I believe these qualities helped me get to where I am today: the owner of a successful business with a university degree under my belt.

“This year I was also awarded 'Independent Business Woman of the year' at the Women Ahead awards in March, which was a great privilege. 

“As well as my own perseverance, however, it was undoubtedly the understanding, commitment and patience of the lecturers on my course that led to me being successful and gaining my degree.”

Sports Project 

“The most enjoyable part of my course was the practical elements, more specifically the lifestyle management techniques. However, the theoretical aspects provided the background and explanation to these practical elements.

“The Sports Project involving the dissertation research was a huge learning curve for me, and was challenging in a positive way. Mine was on 'The knowledge, beliefs and attitudes of midwives to pre- and post-natal exercise'.

“I’ve submitted my Masters by Research proposal on a related topic, looking at the beliefs and attitudes of primary healthcare providers toward the provision of physical activity, and I'll be coming back to Abertay in September to get started on that.”

Abertay support

“As I mentioned earlier, I had a few personal difficulties while studying for my degree and the staff at Abertay were extremely supportive.

“For instance, after a particularly upsetting time I had a meeting with one of my lecturers, who was incredibly understanding and patient. A second example would be just after my Dad died in a work accident, where Andrea Cameron - the Head of the School of Social and Health Sciences - supported me to make the best decision within the constraints of the course to move forward.”

Come to Abertay!

“I would encourage anyone thinking of studying at Abertay to do so. I have found the staff to be crucial in their support to help students achieve their desired outcome. The university has extensive networks to help you find work experience relevant to your area of focus. In addition to this, the modules have practical applications that may not always be obvious at the outset. So come and speak to the staff to find out more!”

Being a mature student

“If you’re thinking of going back to uni as a mature student, I’d say go for it!  Use being a mature student – the benefit of your experience and background – to help get you through it!

“Graduating after all the ups and downs I've had has actually made it feel a little surreal, but in reality I am ecstatic to have been awarded my degree. I am lucky to have been surrounded by such positive people who remind me to stay positive and realistic.”

Many congratulations to Louise on gaining her degree! We look forward to seeing her back with us in September, and wish her continued success with her innovative business.

As well as the BSc (Hons) Physical Activity and Health, we offer the following sports degrees:

  • BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise - leading to named routes
  • BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science
  • BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching
  • BSc (Hons) Sports Development
  • BSc (Hons) Strength and Conditioning
  • BA (Hons) Sport and Management
  • BSc (Hons) Sport and Psychology


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