Over the years, mature students have been returning to school in greater and greater numbers. In fact, according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, this demographic has tripled since the 1980s (The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, 2011). Today the exact number of mature students returning back to school is unknown at the national level. In 2006, Statistics Canada placed the number of mature students at 25 percent.
While the exact number of adult learners may be unknown, many of their shared concerns and challenges are well documented. According to the Canadian Council on Learning, the most challenging and common barriers faced by older students are “financial constraints, work conflicts and family responsibilities” (Stechyson, N., 2010) In fact, the study noted that “About 28 per cent of the working-age population wanted to pursue training in 2002 but could not because of money worries.” (Stechyson, N., 2010)
In light of these challenges, how can aspiring counsellors make their return to college as smooth as possible? Here are some solutions that adult learners can use.
Financial Assistance Opportunities for Counselling Training
Financial concerns are one of the biggest sources of stress for adult learners (Stechyson, N., 2010). Often, they have additional financial responsibilities such as mortgage payments, childcare, car payments, and more. In addition, mature students with a higher income might be ineligible for student loans (Stechyson, N., 2010).
For these reasons, it can be especially important for returning students to make the most of the financial opportunities available through their college. For example, Rhodes Wellness College offers scholarships that are ideal for student looking to become wellness counsellors. Both the Healthcare Worker Wellness Scholarship and the Fitness Professionals Scholarship are specifically designed for students currently working and looking to supplement their skillset with a wellness counsellor diploma.
However, scholarships, loans, and bursaries are not the only resources adult learners can utilize when completing their studies. In fact, at Rhodes Wellness College, students can begin to establish a client base and earn some income as a counsellor through the on-campus Counselling Center. The supervised Counselling Center is run by second year students, and any client a student receives through the clinic is their own. Because adult learners are often more career-focused and driven than their younger counterparts, this resource can be a particularly valuable asset for mature students looking to transition to their new career and simultaneously supplement their income (Kehler, R., 2017).
How Mature Students Can Navigate Work and Family Responsibilities
Time constraints are another common concern for adult learners. The time demands of pursuing counselling training may require that an individual reduce the number of hours they work. It may also result in less time to spend with a spouse or with children. Both can be difficult transitions to make.
Having a discussion with family about the potential compromises that may be necessary during counselling training can help answer questions and allow families to plan ahead for any potential differences in lifestyle. Discussing solutions like shared study time with children, scheduling inexpensive leisure activities like movie nights, or creating a stricter budget can help with reaching valuable solutions that include every member of the family (Lawrence, C., n.d.).
Discussing this transition with employers can also help students rearrange their schedules and address any concerns that either party might have. These discussions also don’t need to be limited to when an adult learner first begins their studies. In addition to the potential it offers for continued understanding between parties, having this kind of conversation can serve as valuable practice of skills important within counselling training such as active listening, reflection, and emotional management.
Finding Confidence as an Adult Learner Beginning Counselling Training
Practical considerations like finances and time constraints aren’t the only obstacles that adult learners feel they need to overcome when beginning a professional wellness counselling course. In fact, according to the Apollo Research Institute, over 50 percent of adult students worry about their “intellectual ability to complete coursework” (Schepp, D., 2012).
How can adult learners address this pressing concern? One way that students can give themselves an advantage is to choose a program that offers an experiential approach. This approach caters to the different modalities through which students learn. Visual, kinesthetic, and auditory teaching modalities are an integral part of experiential learning and are also known to be most effective for adult learners (Robertson, L., 2016).
In addition, adult learners can re-examine their feelings towards going back to school. For many, remembering that feeling nervous is normal can help them defer self-judgement. It can also be beneficial for adult learners to note that nervousness and excitement are very similar energetically and physically (Robertson, L., 2016). Both are aroused emotions that come with a heightened sense of awareness, elevated levels of cortisol, and a faster heart beat (Raff, J. and Khazan, O., 2016). Due to the similarities between these two emotions, adult learners can reframe their nervousness as excitement, helping them feel empowered rather than intimidated as they begin their studies.
Are you ready to bring your talents to the world of counselling?
Contact Rhodes Wellness College to study toward a wellness counsellor diploma in Vancouver!
Dale, M. (2010, December 13). Trends in the Age Composition of College and University Students and Graduates. Retried October 6, 2017, from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-004-x/2010005/article/11386-eng.htm
Encore.org. (2015). Back to school for Encore Talent. Retrieved October 5, 2017, from https://encore.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/BacktoSchoolv7.pdf
Johnson, G. (2016, October 21). Back to school again as a mature student. Retrieved October 6, 2017, from https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/back-to-school-again-but-with-enthusiasm-purpose/article32460231/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&
Kehler, R. (2017, March 28). (J. Stafford, Interviewer)
Lawrence, C. (n.d.). How Does a Parent Going Back to School Affect the Family? Retrieved from http://oureverydaylife.com/parent-going-back-school-affect-family-37230.html
Ottawa Citizen (2015, August 13). Citizen Arguments: What it’s like to go back to school as a mature student. Retrieved from http://ottawacitizen.com/storyline/citizen-arguments-what-its-like-to-go-back-to-school-as-a-mature-student
Raff, J. and Khazan, O. (2016, July 5). How to Turn Anxiety Into Excitement. Retrieved October 6, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/485297/turn-anxiety-into-excitement/
Rhodes Wellness College (2017). Financing & Scholarships. Retried October 6, 2017, from https://www.rhodescollege.ca/prospective-students/financing-scholarships/
Robertson, L. (2016, 12 5). Returning to learning as an adult. (J. Stafford, Interviewer)
Sagan, A. (2017, August 21). Back to school: How mature students can fund continuing education. Retrieved October 6, 2017, from http://www.ctvnews.ca/5things/back-to-school-how-mature-students-can-fund-continuing-education-1.3551844
Schepp, D. (2012, August 13). Top 6 Reasons Adult College Students Drop Out. Retried October 6, 2017 from https://www.aol.com/2012/08/13/top-6-reasons-older-college-students-drop-out/
vStechyson, N. (2010, September 3) Retrieved October 6, 2017, from https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/back-to-school/kickin-it-old-school-the-rise-of-the-mature-student/article1379061/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (2011). Trends in Higher Education: Volume 1 – Enrolment. Retrieved October 6, 2017, from https://www.univcan.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/trends-vol1-enrolment-june-2011.pdf