Why study gets better with age

Education students Annette McCormick and Gabriella WayneEducation students Annette McCormick and Gabriella Wayne

The numbers are in and will not be a surprise: study in your late 20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s is no longer the exception when it comes to university.

40 percent of higher education students are aged 25 or above according to 2017 Department of Education data.

Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students) Professor Nan Bahr said the average student age at Southern Cross University was closer to 30 than 20.

“Many of these mature age students have often already experienced a career and have figured out the direction they want to take and are dedicated to undertaking that transformation,” Professor Bahr said.

“Some students continue to work full or part time to support their families and responsibilities, while others dive headfirst into study to complete it in the shortest timeframe”.

Colleagues seeking his advice about work-related events was a catalyst for NSW firefighter Craig Blandon to look at upskilling. “I found that a few of my work colleagues were coming up to me and just wanting to have a chat about certain incidents,” he said. Craig has just recently completed his Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) at Southern Cross University.

Until recently, he was dividing his time between working as a firefighter and as peer support at Lismore-based Momentum Collective, an organisation that provides support with complex and difficult issues of domestic family violence, homelessness, and mental health.

“I’ve always enjoyed learning. If I knew I could have handled my studies and work as a firefighter, I would have done this a long time ago. I just didn’t think that university was for me at all,” he said.

Craig has recently started working at the Department of Communities and Justice where he is assisting families in his role as a Child Protection Case Worker. When he graduates in December 2019, he will be a qualified Social Worker.

After completing high school on the Gold Coast, Gabriella Wayne embarked on a decade-long career in real estate, starting as an office junior, working her way into sales and climbed the ranks to become an organisational leader, managing seven offices across Gold Coast and Brisbane.

The Robina local, now aged 28, said when she fell pregnant she found her purpose and the reason she wanted to change careers.

“I understood how important it is for every child to have a great education and become the people they are meant to be, and the course at Southern Cross University has been life altering,” she said.

“I chose Southern Cross for the location and for the staff – they were so welcoming of me even when I was juggling with feeding my five-month-old and attending classes. I’ve met an amazing group of friends, including connecting with lots of parents who are also studying.

“The way uni is structured ensures we aren’t just a number and we’re able to develop personal relationships with tutors and teaching staff.”

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