Unmet Needs: Challenges to Success from the Perspectives of Mature University Students
Keywords:mature students, non-traditional students, barriers, multiple roles, attrition, persistence
An in-depth understanding of mature students’ experiences as non-traditional learners pursuing post-secondary education is crucial to supporting this growing and traditionally overlooked population. This study explored issues affecting the success of mature students engaged in university study. A thematic analysis of text responses from 270 mature undergraduate students in Ontario was conducted to discover unmet needs and challenges to success. Findings demonstrate that mature students struggle with accessing needed resources, supports, services, and flexible study options. Furthermore, mature students face significant challenges with balancing their multiple roles and responsibilities and experience social exclusion as non-traditional students, feeling that they are not understood by their peers or institutions. Recommendations are made to better support mature students in three areas: changes to institutional policies and practices, the creation of social support networks, and increased access to financial support.
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