When attending school again after years of graduating, it can really be a frightening experience. You may wonder where to go for your first class, how to navigate the grand halls and sneaky corridors that make up the college building. You will wonder where the elevator is or which set of stairs is the closest to your classroom, or even where in that vast parking lot you should park. These are just the minor anxieties when returning to college when you are far beyond the age that you think you should be. You might worry that you will be the oldest person in your classroom, and that might even include the professor! Though it sounds less than appealing, and even daunting to think about going back to school, you can set some of those fears aside. Believe it or not, you are not the only one that will have any of those worries to begin with; every student does, despite their age and experience with the school. There are many ways to ease your anxiety, and make yourself not only comfortable with attending college; you can even excel as a student.
~You aren’t the only adult attending
No matter your age, you will feel that your classmates might look at you with astonishment because you are much older than they are, or you are ‘old’. This fear, however, is unfounded. It is quite likely that you won’t even be the oldest person in class, and beyond that, there will be a great deal of others along with you. These days, a college classroom is full of people from all age groups. There are fresh out of high-school students, there are working mothers and fathers, there are even grandparents that fill classrooms these days. Being an adult student is not a hindrance. It is an advantage. You have had far more life experiences than the 18-20 year old students sitting next to you. Life Experience comes in quite handy when attending college. Your teacher is an adult, as you are, and you will be more apt to feel a sense of companionship with your teacher. You both may have young children, and jobs and responsibilities that you must deal with outside of class. Some younger students might have more time on their hands, but since they are young, in many cases they are less likely to relate to some of the subjects that you will be learning in class.
~There are people that will help
On Campus, there are so many people who are there to assist students with anything that they need help with. There are people that work in the Financial Aid office that can answer your questions, provide you with forms, and even give you step by step instructions on how to do what you are supposed to do. As an adult, you are aware of deadlines, so you will be less likely to ‘forget’ to turn in certain copies of paperwork than younger students are. As an adult, you know which tax form you need to supply the office with, or how many dependents you are able to claim for your financial aid. These people will ensure that everything is done correctly, timely, and in the correct manner, so that you may rest easier. There are counselors that can help you pick out the correct courses that you need, and also talk to you if you need an ear. There are usually psychologists on staff as well, that are free for any student to use. If you are having any type of troubles, these people will help you. There is also a center for people with disabilities, both mental and physical, and counselors that work in these offices for people that do have troubles. Even speaking to one or two of these people will make you feel better about your anxiety. In some cases there are Men’s and Women’s centers that cater to issues pertaining to both that you may turn to in times of need.
~Real life experience is a plus
No matter what subject you choose to study in (Math, Science, Philosophy, Sociology, etc), there will be parallels between the subject and real life. This is a bonus for anyone continuing their adult education. You are going to identify with facets of any subject in a manner that is from experience or basic knowledge, younger people may not. For example, in Sociology, you already know that there are certain things that guide our behavior (like your social status, church/Religion, your gender, or your race), but some younger students may not have a place in society that is beyond a student level. They may have not experienced voting, for instance, or living in their own home or apartment, but still live with their parents. They cannot answer for the ‘real world’ as an adult can. Adults know how to act at a job or in a place of business, and when one should act formally, or one has an opportunity to relax. Many adults are already well versed in common sense, while some teenagers have yet to even mature or pay a bill. Here, you have the advantage.
~You will become friendly with technology
Whether you often use a computer or not, in college you will have to perform certain tasks with the use of a one. You will be asked to write reports that are printed, and have a certain format (APL, or MLA, etc). This means that you will have to write a certain amount of pages, a 12 point font, double spaced lines, etc. You will learn this, and know that you must print your paper out. If you don’t own a printer, you will learn how to save your essay onto a USB memory stick and take it to school where there are plenty of computers and printers that you may use. You will also (in most cases) register for classes online. You will want to learn this as quickly as possible, because many classes fill up rather fast, and you might get stuck in a class that you would rather not take when there are courses that are far more interesting, or more important to your degree than that of the classes that are left. Because of time constraints, you may even take a few classes online, which is an entire article altogether.
~You will be more responsible with money
All colleges require payments for each class that you are registered in. Also, each class you take requires certain materials to use with it. This may be books, workbooks, notebooks, online help centers, pens, pencils, software, or even things like calculators and laptops. If you are getting loans, you know that a loan must, in time, be paid back. Many younger students will get loans that are far higher than they actually need and use the extra money for things that they want (like a great new cell-phone, new clothes, or whatever suits their fancy when they are shopping. It is easy to forget when you have money loaned out to you that it is not just ‘free money’, as many students use it for. As an adult, you are more cautious with the money that you are given and in the end you will most-likely owe less money or will not be buried in debt like many students are. You will be far more careful with the money that you are given than an eighteen year old will be.
Going back to college does not have to be an anxiety laden hassle that will yield nothing but ridicule from class-mates. In fact, it is a very rewarding experience that will turn you into a brighter, more responsible adult that has a clear vision of your future. Even if you already have a good job and are taking classes to further your career, that is one step that many other adults don’t take, so you will have an advantage. It is an opportunity to make new friends, become more engaged in society, and give you something to immerse yourself in like you have never done before. You may even get a career out of it and then occupy a fulfilling career instead of a job that gets you from paycheck to paycheck. In exploring all of the subjects necessary to a degree, you might find the one career that you love and gain something that you never had before. So, set your fears aside and jump right in. The world is waiting for you to contribute to a profession that you love and can add your knowledge and special touches to.