Older Adults in College – Yes

Having been an older student at college, I feel that I got more out of the college education then, than when I first went to college in my teens. During that first college experience at eighteen I was not necessarily interested in the books and labs. The dictates of my professors were not the first things on my “to do” list. I wasn’t really ready to buckle down and get into the studying mode. I was fresh out of the loving arms of my parents and their strictures. I went from country mouse to city cat in the blink of an eye and was up to enjoying every unsupervised minute of it as I could.

The college education I got at eighteen and nineteen was about life, love and the pursuit of higher self gratification. This was totally different from the college education I got at thirty. Later in life you know yourself better if not best. You have had a chance to possibly find love and understand better the obstacles that life can throw your way. You have had several jobs and are now looking for a career. The pursuits of a nineteen year old are vastly different from those of a thirty year old. Your mind is now ready to accept the concepts that a college education has to offer.

At eighteen years of age, you don’t think about all the things that really go with maintaining an acceptable grade point average and frankly at this tender age you don’t care. College for me, as it was and is for a lot of people, an opportunity to experiment, hang out and get fresh with all the things you couldn’t do at home. I stayed out as late as my dormitory allowed. I was in the big city and ached to get to know all its haunts. I wanted to know love and all that entailed and I wanted the freedoms that came with being away from my parents’ home and their guidelines. Yes, college has many mandates for underage teens, but there are always ways around them and I learned them all.

I had never been away from home for any length of time and therefore was a novice at taking care of myself. Everything that I was doing was new, different and oh, so grown up. I think I was blinded by all the glitz and glamour of being one of a very few girls at this particular engineering school. Males were everywhere you turned and they definitely were interested in the opposite sex. I was not that interested in course work and hadn’t really concentrated on any particular area of study enough to really pick out anything of consequence. My major was partying and socializing. Coursework was secondary at best. My one concern about my grades was maintaining an acceptable level to maintain my grants and scholarships; therefore I took what was easiest to get a good grade.

I found that love at an early age. I married and started a family. My husband finished his college education, but I fell into the trap that many a young married couple find. I worked to support us. I gave up my college education until later. After all I wasn’t that serious about it in the first place. I had played, danced and had great fun times, but it was at the expense of that higher education.

Completing my college education became an obsession. I was older now and several dead-end jobs later, decided that I needed that piece of paper, that diploma. I decided at the age of twenty-seven to go back to school. Lucky for me I was still within my ten year limit of completing that degree. I could use the course work that I had completed in my teens to now finally get that secondary diploma. I was serious now and wanted that degree on so many different levels. I buckled down and with small children at home, studied hard. I took night courses when offered and tried to maintain a job during the day. I did everything now, when it was so much harder than when it was practically handed to me on a silver platter. I finally understood what it meant to want to learn more and what happens when you don’t.

Getting a college education as an older adult is a much harder thing to obtain, but I believe it means so much more than if I had earned it at twenty-one. With age, comes wisdom, be it in life or on a college campus. It brings a lot of insight into most everything and I believe it definitely adds a certain sweetness to finally getting that college degree.