Returning to college later in life brings with it a unique set of concerns and anxieties. No longer an exuberant, idealistic youth, adult students must balance work and family responsibilities with memory and stamina issues, financial concerns, along with social aspects of college life.
Nearly all college students have concerns about fitting in, feeling accepted, and finding their place in college culture. Add to those natural concerns the fact that the adult student is significantly older than their peers and some anxieties can occur. Finding social groups with shared interests, joining study groups, and maintaining current friendships can help alleviate these concerns.
As we age, we lose much of the stamina we took for granted when we were younger. Adult students frequently have concerns about their ability to physically and mentally keep up with their younger peers. Staying physically fit and mentally sharp requires diligent effort and reasonable plans of action. Most adults are self aware enough to create the right plan for their needs.
Like it or not, loss of memory does occur as we age. Adults students often find themselves needing to create memory prompts, having to study more effectively, and to review their studies more frequently. Puzzles, problem solving, and word games can help stimulate the mind and consciously deciding to recall information can help. Luckily, most adult students have the self discipline needed to counteract memory loss.
Footing The Bill
Adulthood brings with it an avalanche of financial responsibilities: rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, transportation costs, insurance, health care, family, technology, toys, and parenting expenses. Add the cost of going to college and anxiety may be an understatement! The only way to maintain control of finances is to create a reasonable budget and stick to it.
Is It Worth It?
The biggest source of anxiety among adult students is the worry that their investment of time, money, and effort will be for no good use. Adult students fear that jobs may go to younger prospects, that they will end up left behind in spite of their efforts, or that they will miss out of other important events, family or friends, for example, while they attend classes and study.
The good news is that returning to college as an adult means that you also bring more realistic expectations, better self control and discipline, and a wider knowledge base with which you can connect what is being studied. Adult students generally find that their concerns about being accepted by their younger peers are unfounded. Younger students recognize the wealth of information and experience older students bring with them and they quickly overcome any obstacle that age may initially present. Returning to college as an adult has the added advantage of stimulating your mind and body, improving the quality of life in a variety of ways.