The first day of school is always nerve-wracking. There’s so much to learn—from class rules and school policies to new technology. But when you return to school as an adult, you may be asking yourself: am I too old to go back to college? When you feel like the oldest person in class, you may face challenges that your classmates don’t seem to have. But you may also find that your age and life experiences can work to your advantage.
Advantages of Being Older in College
- You’re More Focused as an Adult Learner: While some students may be focused on the social aspect of college, you’ll be focused on your academics. You know that the effort you put in now will pay off later, so you’ll make your schoolwork a priority. You also won’t be afraid to work hard and persevere through the tough assignments—after all, you balance work, family and classes. How hard can those homework assignments really be?
- You’re Motivated as an Adult Learner: Younger students may enroll in college and career training programs because someone else is telling them they should. Your choice to go back to school is yours. You have lots of reasons for going back to school, from career switches to advancement opportunities. Your end goals will keep you motivated to start and complete your program. And because you’re self-motivated, you may do better in school and in your future career.
- You Already Know How to Solve Problems: With more of life under your belt, you also have more experience tackling challenges and solving problems. Whether it’s an actual assignment or a scheduling conflict, you’re less likely to get flustered by a few obstacles that might get in your way. Your younger peers may be used to being told what to do and relying on mom and dad to fix things. That’s not you.
- You Have Experience: Your previous life and work experience will provide a richer context for the lessons you learn in the classroom. When your instructors discuss professionalism or the work environment, you’ll understand what those concepts mean and you’ll take the advice of faculty seriously.
Challenges for an Older College Student
Entering school as an adult will have its challenges. It’s probably been a while since you’ve hit the books, sat in a classroom, or taken an exam. Add to that, new technologies and online learning, and you might feel a little intimidated. But you can easily overcome back-to-school stress with a little planning, a positive attitude, and a bit of hard work.
- You Have a Full Life Already: Adding another commitment to an already busy life isn’t something you should do lightly. Are you ready to do the work? To juggle your family, work and classes successfully, build a routine that incorporates all three. Create a weekly schedule that’s easy to stick to so you don’t fall out of balance. And don’t be afraid to ask for support from family and friends.
- New Technology Can Be Intimidating for Older Students: Whether you choose to learn online or in person, you will use computers and technology in your courses. It’s the way of the world. But you probably already use technology every day! To prepare for your return to school, find out what the technological requirements are and make sure that you meet them. If you take online classes, spend time familiarizing yourself with some computer basics. Test out applications that you haven’t used before or watch some tutorials to learn more. You can also reach out to your school’s IT team with questions.
- As an Adult Learner, You May Feel Isolated: You may be the oldest student in class—but then again, you may not be. But even if you are, lots of students feel like they’re the “only one” experiencing some back-to-school jitters. One way to feel less isolated is to make connections. Get to know your peers through study groups or class discussion forums. Share your experiences and your wisdom with them. Let them teach you a thing or two about technology. Together, you can get through it!
Are you a lifelong learner? Why not get back in the classroom and learn something that could help you start a new career? At Charter College, we offer a variety of training programs in Business, Health Care, Information Technology, and the Trades. Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form for more information.