York University is home to almost 60,000 students. I love the diversity of students one is able to find as you walk the halls of York University. As a mature student, I didn’t think I would be able to find many people coming from the same path of life as me, but I was wrong. This week I am bringing to you interviews with two mature students at YorkU. I met Jamila recently, as she joined our team as a YU-Blogger, and Morgan who is Red Zone Ambassador. Check out their interviews below.
Interviewee: Morgan Shuker
Program of study: Bachelor of Administrative Studies, Honours Management.
Graduating In: Undetermined, but soon! I’ll be back this September for sure. I have a handful of credits left and am still figuring out the best way to finish the credits and work.
S: Were you working prior to joining York U? if yes, then what sector and for how long?
M: Before I came to York I was working in the cosmetics sector. I started in the industry when I was 16 and then completed a two year diploma at Sheridan College. The last role I was in before I left was as a Store Director at Sephora. I had done many roles over the years including make-up artist, manager, and trainer.
S: When did you first join York U?
M: I started in January 2011 as an undeclared major since I was missing prerequisites needed to get into the program I wanted.
S: What was your deciding factor in going back to school?
M: I had started this degree part time through Athabasca University many years ago but it was seemingly impossible to work (more than) full time and work on part time credits too. It started to feel as it if I would never finish and I was thinking about walking away from the idea altogether. My boyfriend and I sat down and thought about what it would take for me to leave my job and go back full time.
S: As a mature student, what made York University the right choice for pursuing your undergraduate degree?
M: Moving was definitely not an option so I was only considering Toronto area schools (I live down-town). The Administrative Studies program has a lot of mature students so it felt like it would be a safe place to be. Also, York actively promotes their January intake and it was one of the few schools accepting applications at that time and I wasn’t willing to wait for the following September.
S: Tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a Red Zone Ambassador. ( how long have you been doing it? Why did you want to be a red zone ambassador?
M: Actually one of my biggest regrets as a student is not becoming involved on campus sooner. It wasn’t until second year that I decided to get into student activities. My first role was with Health Education and Promotion (also at SCLD) as the Team Lead for the Active Living Team. I then switched over to RED Zone because the role includes many social media activities and I was interested in getting more digital experience on my resume for graduation.
S: What advice can you offer to mature students who may be nervous about returning to school?
M: When I was considering if I should come back to school I was trying to seek advice from anyone who would give it. I was looking for the “right” answer. The right answer never came, I just had to have faith and make the leap. But also, I did a lot of planning. My boyfriend and I had looked at our family finances and developed some plans for savings and possible loans, etc approximately 6 months in advance of my intended start date. The application was somewhat daunting and I had a mentor help to keep me on track with deadlines and pushing me to visit schools, etc. I guess my biggest piece of advice would be to get help. Ask your friends and family for support, it makes the process a lot less scary.
Interviewee: Jamila Kyari
Year of study: Fourth year
Program of study: Honours Degree in Communication Studies
Graduating: In June 2014.
S: How long you were working full-time and what sector?
J: I had been working full-time for a few years doing communications/marketing for an educational institution.
S: When did you first join York University?
J: I first joined York University in 2010 and was going to school part-time during the first year.
S: What was your deciding factor in going back to school? Were you toying with this idea for a while?
J: Yes, I was toying with the idea for about two years waiting for the right moment. I already had a diploma in public relations from college but I felt like something was still missing. The deciding factor was the aspiration to make a major advance in my career and I felt fulfilling this degree would make me feel equipped. It was mainly for self-actualization.
S: Did you have any doubts/fears about going back to school?
J: I had concerns about how much time and money it would take to complete, so I started part-time first. After figuring that the part-time would take forever to finish, I took the plunge and became a full-time student.
S: What has been the hardest part about going back to school?
J: Making that shift from a working professional to full-time student life is quite interesting. One suddenly has to budget like a student and live like one. Not to mention the workload and studying. When you are working, there is some reading involved but nothing as academically intense as when you’re in school. Most of professional work is applied knowledge and skills. When you are already used to that, changing to something else can be quite challenging.
S: What was experience like at York University? Did you find there is enough support for mature students?
J: My experience has been a good one. In general, there is more support for undergraduate students. I kind of consider myself an undergraduate student. For some reason, I compare mature students with graduate or continuing education students (meaning students who are not in an undergraduate degree program). This is probably because I think there is not a lot of information provided that defines who a mature student is and what resources are available to them.
S: It is funny, because I forget I’m a mature student too. Nonetheless, I was curious to find out the resources YorkU offers to mature students so I started researching. And, great news for all mature students there is plenty of support such as orientations, part-time studies, a mentor program, Atkinson Centre for Mature and Part-Time Students, and may different events. There is even a Student Association for Single Parents. I think it is just a matter of whether you are looking for a certain support system or not. This brings me to my next question. Have you worked on campus prior to being a yu-blogger? If so, what positions?
J: I worked as a Communications Assistant for the Faculty of Health at York University.
S: Are you involved on campus too? If so, what activities?
J: I am not as involved as I would like to be. I joined the Communications Studies Student Association for a year but have not renewed my membership since then.
S: What advice would you give to other adults who are thinking of joining us at York University?
J: I would advise them to do their research and make sure that they know everything about their program and how it will help their career years from now. The last thing you want to do is invest time and money into something that you are not sure is right for you. Everyone’s experience in school is different but when classes begin, it is your passion that will help you pull through the challenges being a student. Once you know this is the right path for you, everything else will fall into place to create the right conditions for you to be successful.
A big thanks to Morgan and Jamila for the interview!
Are you thinking of joining us as a mature student at YorkU? If you could go back to school for anything what would it be, and what are your worries? Comment below to start a discussion, maybe we’ll find out how many other people are thinking of taking the same path as me, Morgan, and Jamila! Because, It’s never too late to go back to school!
Be sure to mark your calendars and visit us on Saturday, April 5th 2014, for our annual Spring Open House!
Safe travels till next time!