Perhaps the biggest issue with going back to school is interacting with those whom are younger than you. Actually, just the thought of it is enough for you to get cold feet and call it off. However, once you arrive you will see that you have little to worry about. There will be plenty of other students, who are not young, as these days, college is definitely a mixed bag. In fact, there may be older students than younger ones, depending on the campus and the school itself. How do you get along with complete strangers that are either older than you or younger?
~Small talk goes a long way
You are all in the same class, so you already have a few things in common. Make small talk with whomever you feel comfortable with, and you might just find a friend. You can start off by talking about the class, or sharing notes, discussing topics related to the class. This is a great ice-breaker for any class-mate. After a time or two, you will feel much more at ease with your class-mates and won’t be self-conscious.
If someone has missed a class (or minutes of one), and they ask you what they have missed, offer up your notes or the information that they have missed. This could help two things; you can gain a friend, or gain a partner with whom to share notes if you miss a class. If you are kind to others, they will reciprocate, and the camaraderie in the class may change greatly.
~Listen to them
In many classes you will have to analyze anything from a reading to a scientific equation. Basically you will be learning the same things and will have far different point of views on things because of your age difference. You may meet someone from another country and find yourself empathizing with them and some of their stories. You will also learn new things from a different perspective.
~Learn from them
Younger people tend to be rather stylish, so they can show you what type of clothes or shoes are ‘hip’ right now. Pick up a thing or two (within reason of your age and what you can pull off), and you will be more noticed by the younger students. This may make them feel good that they inspired you a bit and they may reciprocate back with respect and friendliness.
~Work along-side them
In most classes you will be asked to do some sort of project and you may have to have a partner, or several. The teacher may assign your partner, or you may pick your own. Either way, you can get with these people, in or out of class and get to know them better. The subject matter that you will be working on will bring you all closer together anyway. Exchange emails or phone numbers for the project and you might keep in touch even after the class has ended.
Remember, everyone has a certain level of anxiety when attending college. This is not just for older students but younger ones as well. If you are having difficulty fitting in, you can seek advice from a school counselor or psychologist because that is what they are there for. It is normal to feel trepidation in such an environment like a new class or going back to school. Or, you may handle it your own way be keeping calm and just going with the flow, and eventually you will be able to relate and integrate with almost anyone.