Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mature student soars at Douglas College

By Tanis Houghland

Entering school in September of 2010 was definitely a huge life change for me. At the age of 28 I was leaving full-time work, a career I knew well and entering into full-time studies, where I was not going to be making money, not going to have a normal schedule and where I had to be in charge of my homework and life balance.

I had never been a good student in high school. Straight C’s (varying from C- to C+) was my record. I have struggled with learning challenges (dyslexia) my whole life, and without an official diagnosis I never received help. I have fought to be where I am without any assistance, as I did not want to use dyslexia as an excuse for people to think I couldn’t do things. However, this resulted in my being viewed by teachers as a lazy student who just didn't pay attention and didn’t care about her work, when in reality I actually loved learning. I just couldn’t understand like the rest of the students.

After graduating in 1999 from high school I did not continue in academic studies because of my experience with them, and attended only private performing and visual arts schools. Coming to Douglas was a scary experience for me because I had no idea what to expect. I came to the first day of class with my binder and paper and pens and highlighters, thinking I had done my school shopping and was ready to start. However, I soon realized that things had changed, and handwritten assignments were no longer an option – light bulb moment! I had to invest in a laptop so that I could work on my papers and do research.

Being an older student meant that I brought life experiences to class, but it also meant that I brought my life to class, meaning a full daily and weekly schedule with commitments and priorities that conflicted with school. I had a really hard time trying to figure out when it was OK to stop doing school work and when I was taking too much time away from schoolwork for social things or other commitments. It is still a very hard balance, and one that I still struggle with, as school work never seems to end. (I must say that it is much more manageable with a daytimer and monthly task lists to work from.)

But now I can look back on my last three semesters in the Child and Youth Care Counsellor program, with A’s and B+’s as my grades, and realize I can do it. With a lot of extra struggle and stress, I achieved marks to show that I can learn and that I do care. I am so relieved and proud that I made it through (so far, lol).

One more thing. I would highly recommend using the tutoring services, which are free to Douglas students. In the first semester, learning to write papers well is a very good idea. If you don’t tackle in it the first semester then it is one more obstacle to jump as you get deeper into school work.

Anyway, these are a few (or a lot) of my thoughts from my experience. I have lots of good and bad and fun and stressful stories to share, but for now I hope this gives you something to relate to as you enter, or continue in your progress at, school.

Tanis Houghland is a second-year, full-time CYCC diploma student.