“How the heck did I get here!” This is the question that brought me back into the classroom as an adult student. My lifestyle became more important than the color of my parachute, for my parachute was crowding out the important things in my life. I finally decided my career should facilitate my family and life experiences, not the other way around. These are the challenges that I faced, and how I overcame them.
I’m twice your age!
I was old enough to be a father to many of the students in my class. While the current economic crisis has shifted that in my favor a little, the culture is still a young person’s culture. I finally decided that I am in school for my family, and began to see my age and experience as an asset to a diverse classroom.
I’m twice your age, too!
Many teachers were significantly younger than I am. This made it difficult at first. Although they were proficient in their field, they lacked the wisdom that comes with age. Once again I remembered why I was there, for my family and my life. Once again I found that my wisdom and experience, if offered respectfully, could be a useful contribution to the class. Humility is very important when returning as an adult student!
That’s not the way they used to teach it!
I found that many of the facts that I learned were not really facts. This opened my eyes to the fact that wisdom is more important than knowledge, as knowledge may change over time. Information is a tool to be used to make your life and the lives of those around you better.
Its about relationships!
How well I related to those around me greatly affected my success. I understood the material better if I developed a good relationship with the instructor, and proved that I really wanted to know what they knew. I enjoyed the process more if I cared about the other students and whether or not they got the material as well. I began to love the process when the process became about the people in my life. Once I began to love the process, I did great academically.
The reason that I returned to college as an adult was to enhance the relationships of those around me. I didn’t want to work 60 hours a week. I didn’t want to always be struggling over money. I wanted time to spend with those I cared about, and have extra money to do things with them, to make memories. What I found was that started now, not after I completed college. Once I began caring about the people around me in the classroom, it didn’t matter how old I was. It didn’t matter how old they were. What mattered was whether or not our lives were better because we met.