Perhaps for some reason, you did not have the opportunity to continue your education following high school graduation. Many of your friends and associates were “going on to school,” but your plans didn’t include it. Maybe you were going into military service, planning to get married and have a family, or going directly into the work force. The percentage of high school graduates in the 60s, for example, who were going to college following high school was considerably lower than the percentage today.
There is good news for today’s senior citizens – those among us who didn’t go in the 1960s when we were 18. Many are going to college now! They may not just “feel” like senior citizens, some actually are senior citizens in their 60s when they start college.
For some, it is to gain knowledge for the sake of having more of that treasured commodity. For some, it’s to take on more responsibility at a job they’ve held for a long time, or to begin another endeavor there or elsewhere. Some have enough spare time that they are looking for something new and interesting to do with their time. And for others, it’s the realization of a dream that never had a chance during the time their friends were starting college.
No matter what the reasons are, there are some tips for senior citizen college students that may be helpful when classes start whether in a traditional college or in online classes:
* If you are taking classes to earn a degree and have some college credits already, they must have been earned within the past ten years.
* Classes require computer and computer software knowledge, since most online classes rely heavily on material submitted online, covering the learning for that week. These written assignments make up a large percentage of your class grade.
* Most of your classmates will be in their late teens, 20s, 30s, and 40s. Occasionally you will run into someone in your age group, but that will be rare. Don’t worry about this. Often, it works to your advantage. (See the next point.)
* In online classes, most colleges and universities will require a short biography or introduction that you will write on or before the first day of a new class. Playing up the advantages of a lifetime of experience will gain the respect of your classmates and your professor. Your age is really not a drawback, so emphasize the benefits of having many more years of living under your belt, and continue to point out your experience in written assignments when appropriate.
* Don’t be timid about interacting with the professor or your younger classmates. They are respectful of older students and seem fascinated that someone in their 50s or 60s has the motivation and determination to take on a challenge like college!
* Participate to the best of your ability and take a leadership role if possible. Most students and professors appreciate your help.
* Schedule your week ahead in order to have your classes and assignments well-planned and submitted on time. Some instructors accept late work and only deduct a point per day, but others will not accept late work at all. Be sure to call or email your professor if you know you will not be able to complete an assignment on time. Most will be glad to work with you if you speak with them far enough in advance of the due date.
* Online classes or night and weekend classes for adults are generally accelerated. What takes 15 to 17 weeks to complete in a traditional college or university setting will be completed within 5 to 6 weeks. You will cover the same amount of material, only faster. The expectations of your professor will be the same, but it will be up to you to research more deeply or study outside sources in order to get the most out of the learning experience that you possibly can.
* Classes will be much more reasonably priced at an online college than in a brick and mortar building, but the quality of your education will be the same if you put your best effort forth. Design a schedule for yourself and try to stick to that as closely as possible. Do be sure to take breaks away from your studies so that you do not become weary or overly tired.
With these simple and mostly common sense tips, senior citizens who are going to college for the first time or are returning to college after many years, perhaps with a sense of completing some “unfinished business,” can do very well and be a tremendous role model for the “kids” in their 30s, 40s, or older.