Okanagan College Mature Students Benefit from Confidence and Credentials
Maria Otting knew something had to change. Having relocated to Salmon Arm, she found herself in need of a new work environment – but quickly realized she had plenty of experience working in offices, but not the credentials listed in ads.
“I noticed a lot of the jobs I was interested in wanted the Administrative Assistant Certificate,” she recalls. “I had years of experience, but didn’t have formal training. I just trained on the job.”
Otting investigated the program, and realized that she was familiar with some course material as a result of her experience – but the program also touched on subjects like payroll and accounting that would broaden her skills.
“I realized that this was something I could do without leaving Salmon Arm, it’s only 10 months and then I can get working,” she says. “I’m really glad I made the decision to go back to school, I’m learning so much.”
Turns out, Otting wasn’t the only one considering a change later in life.
“There’s a lot of mature students in our program. There are stay-at-home moms who have come back after being out of the workforce for a number of years, and people just simply upgrading their skills. We fit right in with the students right out of high school, and everybody gets along,” she says. “It’s great being a mature student. You feel a little bit more confident because you have those life skills and you’re just ready to dive in, get to it and learn.”
The Shuswap has proven very attractive to mature students, with demographic reports indicating the average age of students at the Salmon Arm campus is 27 years old – compared with 25 in Vernon and Penticton.
“Adult learners have unique needs, from financial aid, childcare, and academic requirements, and the Salmon Arm campus has built a supportive network that helps remove barriers that prevent people from returning to education,” says Joan Ragsdale, Regional Dean Shuswap-Revelstoke.
Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus is holding a seminar called Returning to Education on Wednesday, April 24 to help mature students investigate their options. Instructors will provide an overview of specific study areas, helping people make decisions about what program is the right fit for them. Staff will outline academic requirements and available options for upgrading, in addition to financial aid supports available. WorkBC will also be on hand to discuss funding eligibility.
Returning to Education will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Room 136 of Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus, 2552 10th Ave. NE, beside the Shaw Centre. For information, call 250-832-2126, ext 8259, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visitwww.okanagan.bc.ca/salmonarm.