At the UNIVERSITY OF CANTERBURY, mature students are finding the flexibility and support they need to succeed, even while juggling busy family life.
Changing careers can be daunting, particularly when change requires university study. Starting, or returning, to university as a mature student can be overwhelming for some people.
It may be surprising to know that approximately half of the students at the College of Education, Health and Human Development are over the age of 25 years. This is particularly evident in teaching programmes. Teaching is a profession that attracts a lot of mature students, as it provides an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children, families and the community. Teaching is also a profession to get passionate about.
Strong support from the lecturers was a major benefit to studying the GradDip(Secondary) for Fariya Naseem. Not only was Fariya a mature student, but she was also an international student who moved to Christchurch to become a teacher.
“It was a big decision for me to come here, and the staff and other students were very welcoming,” Fariya says. “I love the connectedness I share with my teachers. The support and guidance provided by them has really helped me make the right choices as a student teacher.”
The deciding factor for many mature students choosing university study is flexibility. The opportunity to study part-time, by distance, or both, can mean mature students can juggle study with their many other obligations. For primary degree graduate, Dayne Gardner, flexibility
gave him the chance to change career and
become a teacher.
“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have without the option to study via distance,” Dayne says. “I chose to study at UC because it offered the FLO distance learning option which was important if I was to complete a degree. I have a young family and I was still working full time when I first started studying,” he says.
Similarly, early childhood degree graduate Rachael Houde identifies strong support and flexibility as key to her success, in particular the helpful librarians and the ability to watch videos of lectures online when she was ready.
“I loved flexible learning. Knowing I could be a mum when I needed to be, and watch the lectures when it was convenient for me, allowed me to structure my days so that I could achieve all that
I needed to,” Rachael says.
It’s not only teaching students who are enjoying the flexibility and support. Fiona McKay is a final year Bachelor of Sport Coaching student who is also in her mid-30s. She notes that the support from library staff with things like essay checking has been particularly useful. She also notes the benefits of “having fantastic lecturers, like Jenny Clarke, who are very good at their job and go out of their way to help you out, along with all the rest of the Sport Coaching staff.”