The college classroom is changing. What was once primarily the next step for students graduating from high school has now become a stimulating and diverse learning environment for students of all ages and life experiences. Many are returning to college to update their skills, prepare for career changes or increase their opportunity for advancement. One of the School of Skills Training programs at Loyalist that is proving to be a positive and rewarding choice for mature students is the one-year Mechanical Techniques certificate program.
“I have my Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Bachelor of Science in Christian Education from Bethany Bible College in New Brunswick and worked for a number of years at Invar Manufacturing as a Machinist C2,” said Dan Duncan. “Following company restructuring I found myself without a job, and being the only income earner in our family it is imperative for me to be employed. I determined that the Mechanical Techniques program would provide me with the best opportunities and I hope to apprentice as a millwright when I am finished. As a mature student I think that we give balance to the class by setting a very focused example. My marks are in the high 80’s and 90’s. It’s exciting to be here because I feel like I am regaining control of my life. This has been a very positive experience for me and I can’t say enough good things about the faculty and the support they offer.”
Twenty-eight years ago Bruce Petrie went directly from high school into the work force. “At that time I could walk directly into jobs that paid really well. You can’t do that now. Employers are looking for certificates, diplomas and degrees. At first I was nervous about returning to school after so many years but I have done much better than I expected. I’ve been able to apply many things that I learned over the years as a fuel truck driver, only now I am learning how to do those things properly and safely. I have a goal to do underwater welding and construction and I think that the younger students motivate me in that I want to make sure I am as competent and prepared as they are when I graduate. It must be working because my average is over 90%. I think that the best part of being a mature student is that I know what I don’t want to do. I know where I want to go and I’m working hard to do that.”
“The college has a wide range of support services for students which include a mature student group that meets approximately once a month,” said David Beer, a Student Success Mentor at Loyalist. “This group is self driven — they determine what they want to discuss — and if they identify particular concerns or areas they need assistance with, we work with them. The math and English drop-in peer tutors are also a valuable resource. We try to be proactive in recognizing and addressing the unique needs that mature students may have.”