This is about finding out if I am capable - I am proving my own personal theory.

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Be Prepared for Mixed Emotions / Reactions

It does give you an experience you will never gain any other way. It comes at a cost, and are the young people old enough to make a decision about which career option to take, especially when undertaking such a large loan to cover not only their education but also their living expenses away from home. Would it be better to wait a couple of years before making this decision, but what options are open to them during this period? (FM#215, 58 year old mother of student)

Students mentioned that often family (and friends) had mixed reactions towards their decision to pursue university studies, and with the many changes that go with this decision, these are often real and valid concerns.

Here’s what some students said:

My family are scared of the unknown … that I might not finish … that’ it’s a huge commitment … (Survey#25, Female student, 50+ years old, mother of 4 adult children)

My parents felt general unease towards University. As they have no prior knowledge of it, they felt that I was setting myself up for failure (financially) … (Survey#91, Female student, 30-40 years old, single mum of 2)

My family are worried about my workload, with such a young family, and all are amazed I am managing to fit everything in … as a single mother with three young children, a full time study load is a lot to take on, and I work very hard. It is mentally draining and physically demanding. (Survey#23, Female student, 30-40 years old, mother of 3)

They were all really happy and proud that I had decided to go, worried for me and if I was going to have time … I have spent so much of my life helping other people and raising my children they were happy that I was doing something for myself. (Survey#102, female student, 30-40 years old, mother of 3)

My friends … think me a bit odd to be enjoying homework at my age. My mother was delighted and is very encouraging. My sister I suspect thinks I should be earning a proper income by now. I have been told … that I am too old to benefit financially from an education, so I should stop fluffing about and get a real job. This person obviously misses the point. (Survey#138, female student, 40-50 years old, mother of teenage daughter)

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    I think as I am from a migrant family, people would think that my first job would be to help in contributing financially to the family. Undertaking the studies at this age may make them impatient and insecure about me wasting my time for doing something that may not help in adding the income but losing money for transportation, books and other things. (Survey#75, female student, 40-50 years old, mother of 2)

    My family are proud because I am making something of myself. But get disgruntled when they can't help with my university problems. (Survey#92, female student, 18-21 years old)

    My husband was a little concerned at the beginning that I was taking on too much and that I would burn out. However, he now sees how much I enjoy what I am doing and he is very supportive - especially when he sees that my marks reflect my work … He was concerned to begin with because I have a full life. We have six children in our blended family. They take a fair bit of time. I also work part time. (Survey#27, Female student, 40-50 years)

    My children can be supportive because they are self-sufficient and don't need my continuous attention any more. My husband I believe felt a little threatened but also concerned that I wouldn't have time or that I would get bored of the study and give up. I think he was also concerned that it would rob us of our time together - which it has quite a bit. Working full-time and studying is a huge commitment so I can understand his concern. (Survey#29, female student, 40-50 years old, mother of 2 adult children)

    My husband thinks I'm pushing myself too hard but is supportive, everyone else is proud and supportive. (Survey#52, Female student, 25-30 years old)

    My family were just concerned about how I would juggle study and full-time work. (Survey#1, Female student, 30-40 years old)

    A friend said to me "are you sure you’re not taking on too much" because I have three young children and a husband who also need me to spend quality time with them. (Survey#10, female student, 30-40 years old, mother of 3)

    Many people wondered whether I would be able to manage the workload. As I also have family commitments/community commitments, there was compromise required to get the right balance. (Survey#18, Female student, 30-40 years old)

    I think for the people that don't understand they’re like “Why are you doing it? You’ve got everything that you want… …you don't need money, you don't need a job, you don't need another set of social situations to be in and, as far as we’re concerned, you’re really smart” (Vicky, 41 year old student, mother of 3)

    I think my mother perhaps is sceptical about employment which will result from study ie. outlay and time versus results/benefits … My partner is extremely motivated by my choice to study because he is very interested in the discipline I am studying also … (Survey#5, Female student, 30-40 years old)

    My daughter is struggling financially … which sets up a stressful environment in which to study (FM#219, 54 year old mother of student)