Stepping Stones: A Guide for Mature Aged Students at by Scevak Jill Cantwell Robert

By Scevak Jill Cantwell Robert

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I feel very anxious. (Commerce student) This is only a small sample, but these comments can be said to be representative of the concerns and anxieties that many mature-aged students express in their first semester. At the beginning of their university learning journey, the three students quoted above seriously questioned the decision they had made to embark on their courses of study because, for them—as for most students—the transition period involved moving outside their comfort zone in a way they hadn’t anticipated (Dawson 2004).

I travelled to the Netherlands and studied for 3 months, then worked in England for 6 months, before returning to the Netherlands for a further two-and-a-half years. In Amsterdam, I took on additional classes at a Conservatorium in medieval music, and language courses at another tertiary provider to further assist my studies. Towards the end of that year, I applied for a second year of deferment at my Australian university, but due to a one-year limit on deferrals at that time, my appli­cation for extension was not accepted.

Equally, the graduate of an engineering degree would be expected to have an integrated understanding of the particular discipline within engineering, and to be able to address typical engineering problems as an engineer would. In other words, you are entering a program of study whose primary goal is to achieve the level of professional practice in the chosen field. At the same time, we should also remember that this represents the desired exit point, not the expected entry point. Like your experiences in primary school and in high school, this is an intellectual journey you are undertaking which, after three or four years, you may expect to complete.

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