When it comes to continuing education, some people might experience more stress than others because of commitments they face outside of school.
That can be especially true for mature students.
According to Alberta Education, a mature student is anyone who waited at least a few years before continuing their education after finishing high school.
“Technically, many students may be mature students, but whether you identify as a mature student is different,” said Maureen Dockery, 49, the head of the Mature Students Club at SAIT.
“People who identify as mature students are likely to be married, have mortgages, full-time jobs, kids and all sorts of other commitments outside of school, as opposed to someone who just got out of high school.”
The Mature Students Club was established in 2016 to provide support for students who were struggling with fitting in to an educational system after being away for a while.
“Our club is different from other clubs,” said Dockery.
“We don’t require our members to commit to anything, as they already lead busy lives. We use our Facebook group simply to let people know that they are not alone.”
While some students have a better experience with fitting in to a younger demographic, others can have a hard time.
Dockery said she has known some people who were on the verge of being homeless, but thankfully, with the support from people in the group they were able to find resources at SAIT that were life changing.
“Being in the third year of my four-year program, I have gotten used to this environment.
“However, I remember struggling with completing group work in class, because people in the younger demographic tend to stick to their own groups,” said Dockery.
Fitting into an educational system might be harder for people with more commitments outside of school, but SAIT provides resources available to all students to help them succeed, said Jerry Rollick, learning coach for apprentices at SAIT.
“I can see how there could be a sense of disconnection in the classroom if there is a significant age difference involved,” said Rollick.
“Whether you are the oldest in the classroom or the youngest, we all have a responsibility to get to know each other and seek out commonalities while showing respect to one another.
“It is amazing what we can learn from one another by setting prejudgments aside,” said Rollick.
Learner Services provides resources, tutoring, and essential strategies for all students. Rollick said if he had known about the Mature Students Club, he would have promoted it to more students who felt disconnected and needed a friendly face.
Some of most useful resources on campus, according to mature students at SAIT, are the employment services.
“I struggled with being the oldest and the only woman in my group,” said Yvonne Cottrell-Lundeen, 43, a second-year student in the Power Engineering program.
“I was hoping to see more meetups in the Mature Students Club to find some friendly faces.”
Cotrell-Lundeen said finding a new career at her age was essential for supporting her family, and even though she sometimes wishes that there was more gender and age diversity in her industry, she feels confident in becoming successful thanks to all the resources available at SAIT.