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Home > Blog > 2024 > Mature students bring unique skills to the classroom

Mature students bring unique skills to the classroom

Picture of Anna Cudmore

Recent Accounting Technology graduate Anna Cudmore

If your studies were interrupted after high school and now you’re wondering how to get back on track, you are not alone! The average age of a Holland College student is 24 years old, and over 30 percent of our students are between the ages of 25 and 50.

Mature students bring unique skills into the classroom. Their life and employment experiences provide them with valuable insights. If they’ve been in the workforce for a few years (or more), they have a strong sense of the kind of work they enjoy – and the kind of work they would prefer not to do! Having been out of in the work world can also mean they understand the value of a post-secondary education and they want to get the most out of their investment, making them engaged learners.

For some people the decision to return to school is very straightforward, for others, the choice is complicated by their personal situation. Anna Cudmore wrestled with low self-confidence after the end of their marriage, but family and friends encouraged them to consider Holland College.

“Four years ago, I was down on my luck in the worst way possible. I was at the beginning of a divorce with no job, no money, and no post-secondary education. I was facing either applying for a terrible minimum wage job, as my only experience was in retail, or I could return to school,” they told the Accounting Technology program advisory committee recently.

“This was a frightening prospect for me. I'd been out of school for over 10 years and wondered if it was too late to even try. Not only that, but I didn't think I was smart enough to return to school and do well. My self-esteem was gone from a horrible marriage, and I truly believed I wouldn't be able to succeed. What I didn't know at that time was that not only was I wrong, but that returning to school, specifically Holland College, would return my confidence in the best way possible.”

Anna’s concerns are not uncommon in mature students. After being out of school for so long, the prospect of returning to the classroom can be daunting. Mature students sometimes worry that they won’t fit in, but working together on projects or helping other students breaks down the age barrier. Although there may be an array of ages in the classroom, the common denominator is the drive to learn, and it doesn’t take long for friendships to form.

“My first few weeks at Holland College were a little tough,” Anna recalled.  “I was shy and anxious, feeling like at some point someone would realize I shouldn't be there, but over time I realized and took advantage of a unique ability I believe Holland College has. Its ability to appeal to students that are just like me. People who have taken long gap years between their education or who are ‘mature’ students. The school itself along with the faculty there are all extremely welcoming allowing for any sort of anxiety to melt away quickly and very soon without me even realizing it, the school slowly but surely became a place of comfort for me.

Holland College has a student-centred philosophy. Empowering student-focused learning is engrained in our mission, and making sure our students feel welcome, supported, and seen is the primary motivation for all that we do.

“Never once did I feel unwelcome at Holland College and I began to feel less and less anxious each day. I started speaking to people and having chats with faculty I never thought I would. They were not my direct instructors or even teachers at all, but they were people I still spoke to each day, such as the lovely ladies working at the cafeteria. They were welcoming, kind, and funny. They provided a wonderful experience during my time there and never once did I feel I bothered anyone when I spoke to them,” Anna told the committee.

Anna said the commitment of the instructors was evident throughout the two-year program.

“Their doors were always open for us when we needed them, and they made sure to make time for us if we required their aid or attention. I was always left with, and still have, the profound sense that as their students, we mattered and so did our success,” they recalled.

Education can be transformational and empowering. Not only do we learn new skills and concepts, we can change the way we think, the way we view the world, and even the way we view ourselves.

“Over the last two years, this school has provided me with such an intense feeling of belonging and not only that, but it gave me my life back,” Anna told the committee. “I'm now divorced, I'll be graduating in a few days, and I have a stable job that came from my work integrated learning. None of these things could have happened without this school and the amazing experience I found there. My confidence has returned, I've made irreplaceable friends, and I was able to do something incredibly satisfactory – which was to prove myself wrong. I was smart enough; I was good enough to do this and Holland College helped prove that. Holland College will forever have a special place in my heart and I'm going to greatly miss it.”

If you think you may be ready for a transformational experience, check out the program pages on this website or contact a recruitment advisor to find out which Holland College program is right for you.

For more information, please contact:
Sara Underwood, Media and Communications Officer
Tel: 902-566-9695
Date: July 04, 2024