Youth is definitely wasted on the young, including the fact that when we’re young we don’t appreciate the value of education or the satisfaction of doing well in school. By the time we do, there are some serious impediments to pursuing that degree.
The first one most people think of, and probably the biggest one, is the need to work. Almost no adult can go back to school without having to work full-time at the same time. Some adult students have employers who’ll reimburse them for the cost of education and arrange their work schedules around classes. This takes a lot of pressure off the students, although they still have to pay their tuition up front.
But these adult students are the fortunate ones. Most have to schedule their classes around work, and some semesters it may not be possible. This puts students behind one or more semesters, and delays the degree and increased earnings they’re hoping for. Some students have the bad luck of having their work schedule change in the middle of a semester.
Education is very expensive, and even when paying in-district rates at a community college, costs add up fast. It’s often difficult for adult students to get financial aid. It’s especially difficult to get financial aid for a second bachelor’s degree, so if the job market changes, a professional or semi-professional person will have a tough time changing careers. It’s unfortunate, because these are some of the brightest and most motivated people.
Sometimes adults returning to school face challenges with technology. I’m a writing tutor at a community college, and even five years ago most older students came to class with almost no computer skills. Now things have changed, and most older students have at least basic skills. But there are still a lot of students who struggle with learning word processing programs. This means they quickly fall behind in their English class. Sometimes adult students have older versions of Microsoft Word at home and they’re proficient in them. But at school they have to learn a newer version before they also fall behind.
Often the combined pressures of work, money, scheduling, and new demands in an unfamiliar environment make it really hard to concentrate on school. Students wonder if they bit off more than they can chew, and their confidence wavers. Anxiety, uncertainty and stress have undermined a lot of people’s education goals.
It takes determination for adults to stick it out in school, especially given all the difficulties they face. But a lot of people do it, and more power to them.