The will to change: Why deciding to return to study is tough, but rewarding

by Noted / 26 June, 2018

Retraining or upskilling can be scary - but rewarding.

RelatedArticlesModule - Unitec

Studying is a transformative experience. It transforms attitudes, it changes work prospects and opens up interesting new pathways. All you have to do is make the jump – and that can be the hardest part.

The idea of starting something new is both appealing and frightening. Making the leap into retraining, upskilling or a complete career change takes bravery, but the rewards that come with pursuing that dream job are what make the effort worthwhile.

Unitec campuses are swarming with students who have taken on a programme of study after years in the workforce – often in a totally different occupation. For many it’s about improving their quality of life through higher earning capability or future-proofing themselves in the face of fast-changing employment prospects. For others, it’s meeting the challenge of returning to work after caring for children or family members, or they’re simply looking for a new direction.

The main hurdle for most mature students was first identifying what they wanted out of life and then taking the plunge to enrol in study.

Often it’s the idea of doing something new that’s more intimidating than the reality. It took Jo Maireroa over a decade and a lot of personal sacrifice to begin her studies in Youth Development – an area she had wanted to work in since leaving school at age 16.

She says it was Unitec’s Bridging Education course that gave her the confidence she needed to return to study. Jo then took on a Bachelor of Health and Social Development majoring in Youth Development. As a mother of twin boys and a teenage daughter it was a big effort, but with support from Unitec and her family, Jo made it happen.

Jo Maireroa left school at 16, but always wanted to work in the field of Youth Development. Photo / supplied

It’s a familiar story among mature students at Unitec, returning to study inevitably means a few changes. And it often means major changes. But once the decision is made, you’re not alone. Unitec is very aware of the juggling act its students have to maintain with work, family and study, and offers a range of services to help students manage the challenge.

Campus childcare, practical study support for every student as well as Māori and Pacific study support, and counsellors or Student Advocates are available to discuss any aspect of study – whether programme-related or personal.

The Student Advocates are highly resourceful and have seen it all when it comes to student life – many are past Unitec students themselves.

Above all, Unitec’s flexible study options are key for mature students, who often plan to continue working while studying.

The process of studying is also a little more exciting than many mature students might remember. Unitec’s learning approach of thinking and doing provides the opportunity for students to get out of the lecture theatre so that when they graduate they’ve already had a taste of their chosen industry. Relevant work experience is part of every programme, from certificates through to postgraduate degrees, so the chance for students to earn while they learn is also a real possibility.

Working and learning in the field was an attractive option for Ripeka Page. Photo / supplied

Ripeka Page is in her second year studying for a Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood Education (ECE), a course constructed as a field-based qualification. Students attend tutorial-style lectures at Unitec two days a week on top of their placements, and work 12 hours each week in a licensed early childhood centre, either on a voluntary or paid basis.

For Ripeka, this was part of the appeal. She started out volunteering at the Kids Domain Early Learning Centre but now works there part-time as a permanent relief teacher. “I chose Unitec because of the work-based experience, because it gives me the opportunity to work within the field and learn alongside other qualified teachers in the profession I’m studying in.”

Importantly, it meant that she could earn a living while studying. “Being able to work and provide for living costs but work in the area that I’m studying in was one of the reasons I chose to study at Unitec,” Ripeka says.

Unitec is New Zealand’s largest institute of technology, with more than 150 work-oriented programmes and campuses in both Mt. Albert and Waitākere. At Unitec, it’s about offering employment-focused education and the right combination of support to help students transform their lives through study.

Have you been thinking about it?
Apply now for semester two, enrol.unitec.ac.nz.

 

Latest

The enduring sandwich: What's not to like about bread and fillings?
94342 2018-09-23 00:00:00Z Food

The enduring sandwich: What's not to like about br…

by Margo White

Despite an apparent backlash against bread – against carbohydrates and gluten – the sandwich endures.

Read more
Humanity is on 'the highway to digital dictatorship', says Yuval Noah Harari
96527 2018-09-22 00:00:00Z Social issues

Humanity is on 'the highway to digital dictatorshi…

by Andrew Anthony

The author of worldwide bestsellers Sapiens and Homo Deus says our free will is at stake. We talk to Yuval Noah Harari about his new book.

Read more
Why there's no 'clash of civilisations' between Islam and the West
96558 2018-09-22 00:00:00Z Social issues

Why there's no 'clash of civilisations' between Is…

by Yuval Noah Harari

There is just one civilisation in the world, writes Yuval Noah Harari, and the West and Islam are joint participants in it.

Read more
The Kiwi cicada expert who's just 11 years old
94985 2018-09-22 00:00:00Z Science

The Kiwi cicada expert who's just 11 years old

by Ken Downie

Hamilton entomologist Olly Hills isn’t in high school yet, but he’s already a world expert – and he wrote a book.

Read more
Thackeray's Vanity Fair gets a clever update for the millenial age
96633 2018-09-22 00:00:00Z Television

Thackeray's Vanity Fair gets a clever update for t…

by Russell Brown

A new TV version of William Makepeace Thackeray’s 19th-century satirical novel taps into today's celebrity-Instagram culture.

Read more
The debate over the Serena Williams controversy was a dialogue of the deaf
96659 2018-09-22 00:00:00Z Sport

The debate over the Serena Williams controversy wa…

by Paul Thomas

Serena Williams’ US Open outburst was unbecoming but the umpire made a mess of his response.

Read more
The classical blokes saluting unsung women composers
96670 2018-09-21 14:16:06Z Music

The classical blokes saluting unsung women compose…

by The Listener

The suffrage celebrations get a soundtrack from all-male ensemble NZTrio.

Read more
Labour MPs stand behind Jacinda Ardern's action on Meka Whaitiri
96630 2018-09-21 07:31:30Z Politics

Labour MPs stand behind Jacinda Ardern's action on…

by Gia Garrick

The public will have to wait to see a report into an assault claim against MP Meka Whaitiri, who was yesterday stripped of her ministerial portfolios.

Read more