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Love of Learning

Challenges in pursuing post-secondary education as an adult

By ADMIN - January 9 2024

By A. Kerr

A. Kerr is a member of University in the Community. She made the decision to pursue undergraduate studies while caring for her family of four and working part-time. In this article, she passes on some tips for adults who decide to go back to school. 

Pursuing post-secondary education is common for adults even years after they have worked at their jobs. The reasons for going back to school vary. Some return to achieve a second career, some for advanced training specific to their jobs, some to get a higher salary and surprisingly some may attend just for knowledge and interest. No matter the reasons for this decision adult learners as compared to younger students will experience challenges.

The challenges are not always obstacles because adults can learn from them. Individuals travel from near and far for their education. However, older adults are not international students. To gain space in a university or college program it is daunting. 

First, the student has to know the course or program of interest. Then they apply and seek financial assistance or plan how to pay for the course. There is OSAP for paying, as well as awards or bursaries for students. Some students will pay out of pocket which is good. Before applying for a space, the student will choose a specific college or university.

They also have to decide whether it is online or in person. The application process is very challenging if the student does it online. Sometimes the application might suddenly log out requiring you to go back in and start all over again. Some students have to go to the institution to get help.

Challenges faced by adult students going into post-secondary education are different for each individual. There are financial responsibilities, family situations, and stress that this decision to start school may not work out. Some older adult students will experience challenges and difficulties using technological devices and equipment. It is impossible sometimes for them to get the necessary assistance.

After getting into the program the work begins. Students who do in-person study are faced with having younger classmates and it can be intimidating. Older students worry about not feeling welcome. Online adult students are worried about understanding the work and completing it.

Adult students are responsible for getting support groups that can assist and encourage them. The institutions need to find more ways to help their adult student population. Libraries are great places to find resources to help with research for post-secondary education. Librarians will also help to guide individuals on how to research.

Friends, associates, and families are a large group who can provide support and encouragement. Overcoming the hurdles and barriers that can be a hindrance in completing post-secondary education is good. There are some tips to help anyone complete post-secondary education successfully, even if you have a disability. You can find out about your rights as a student and what you are responsible for.

If you need specific help, let it be known. Always remember to ask questions. The Accessibility Services of the institution will provide it. There is also other assistance which includes mentorship, tutoring, academic writing support, counseling services, library workshops through the institution, and academic advising. Much of this information is not disclosed by the colleges or universities. Sometimes it is very difficult for students who are not aware of how to get the resources or information about these services. However, success comes from knowing and applying the knowledge.

In June, 2023, after several years of part-time studies, Ms. Kerr graduated from Brock University with a Bachelor of Education. 

Huge congratulations from all the students at UitC to their classmate and friend!


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