Several people sit in a semi-circle around a table while three people stand behind them.

Meshanda Phillips, project coordinator with the Office of the Dean of Students, is doing important work when it comes to engaging and supporting Humber College's mature learners. Mature learners come in many different forms and often require different supports. For example, in some cases, they could be a student who’s 19 years or older who didn’t complete high school. Or, it might be someone returning to school after years away.

Humber has many different resources and supports in place to help learners succeed on their post-secondary journey.

“It can be very challenging as mature learners may have to relearn study habits or how to be back in a classroom while mixing with other students, some of whom are direct from high school and can be much younger than them,” said Phillips.  

After starting with Humber in May, Phillips reviewed student support resources and a research literature review. One of Phillips’ first initiatives was to create the Mature Student Hot Tips for Success brochure. It focuses on learning and life supports as well as ways to build community and increase a sense of belonging while at Humber.

A series of pamphlets and pages with information on them rest on a table.

Phillips also has a mature student mailing list to send information tailored to the interests of this group.

Jacqueline Morgan, director, Strategy and Innovation with the Office of the Dean of Students, said they’re engaging with mature learners to hear directly from them about what areas and topics they could use support with. One example mature learners shared with them is how to use APA citations as many who haven’t been in post-secondary before may need help with using that style in their assignments.

Morgan said it’s been a valuable experience hearing from mature learners as taking a youth-centric approach might not always reach all students. This project is taking the feedback received and incorporating it into outreach and support efforts.

“We want them to feel not just heard but supported,” said Phillips.

While Humber is making strides towards a universal approach to access when supporting students with their needs, Morgan and Phillips are refining their messaging and programming to be relevant to mature learners.

Phillips said they heard from mature learners that they may need a little extra help with technology. In response, the @LifeatHumber social media channel for current Humber students, created Tech Tip Tuesday where, every Tuesday, a tech tip to better utilize a technology tool that is available at Humber is reviewed.  

“It’s the idea that, as a mature learner group, they’re being seen and heard and we’re saying thank you for helping us learn about your needs,” said Morgan. “We’re looking at our supports and asking ourselves ‘are we engaging with this group in a way that’s meaningful and relevant to mature learners?’”

A group of smiling people pose for a photo.

At Humber, more than 65 per cent of students are non-direct, meaning they’re not coming directly from high school. That includes mature learners and transfer students as well.

Those looking to access supports can visit the student services webpage