This book draws on interviews with forty-three mature women students at two East Midlands institutions of higher education. Women returners gave eloquent accounts of constraints and opportunities, aspirations about careers, anxieties and excitement about change. Just over half were traced and re-interviewed eight years later. These later interviews focus on public and private views of the impact of education: accounts of subsequent careers, and re-assessments of the educational experience in terms of personal self-fulfilment. The work is an account of the way women perceive their educational experiences drawing on their own interpretations. It also connects with several theoretical traditions: work on why adults return to education, on womens relationship to education systems, on the relationship between women's paid and unpaid work. As these students were a pioneering group for a much wider expansion in higher education, the book is a timely contribution to debates about widening access.