Tag Archives: Older Returning Studemts

Older College Students

I remember when I returned to school, it was intimidating.  I had barely made it out of high school because of poor grades.  The last year of high school, I rarely went and I had to go to summer school to make up a History credit in order to graduate with my class.  I didn’t do well in that class either.  I got a D- but the teacher must have felt sorry for me and passed me anyway.  I didn’t think about it until years later – I could have failed my Senior year and not gone back to school at all. That would have left me a high school drop-out.  Thank God for that kind History teacher. 

College, I found, was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be.    I was 36 years old and needed something to do besides stay home with my 3 and 13-year-old boys.    My husband traveled a lot and I was going crazy at home, mopping floors, doing laundry, sorting out arguments between the boys, the usual Mommy things.  I enrolled my 3-year-old in pre-school and I enrolled myself in the nearest Community College.  I took an Art class:  Film as Art.  In class, we’d watch these heavy movies with hard-hitting directors, Wertmuller, Welles, Eisenstein.  We’d analyze the films and write papers about what we’d learned.  The teacher was really cool and let us write about anything we wanted.  We could write about the lighting, the story, the characters, or anything else we chose.  I was really happy when I got an A in the class.  My husband stuck my report card up on the refrigerator with a magnet.  It embarrassed me but he was proud and, I must admit, so was I.  I enrolled the next semester in an Accounting class.

The Accounting class was really easy too.  College was not what I thought it was going to be.  The kids didn’t seem to mind that I was much older than them.  I had been the oldest person in my Art class and also in my Accounting class.  I discovered that the teachers actually like returning older students in class because we were more serious.  They didn’t seem to mind if we had to take an extra absence day because they understood we had families to care for.  I remember in my History class, the Professor giving a warning that his class was not high school and he expected us to act like grown-ups.  I don’t remember any of the kids acting up in class, but I’m sure it must have happened or the Professor wouldn’t have said that.

I went on to take American History, Western Civilization, Psychology, 3 English classes, another Art class, with the same Art teacher, Journalism and a Speech Class.  The Speech class was one of the best things that had ever happened to me.  It changed my life.  It wasn’t a class where we gave speeches.  The instuctor was an older hippie woman named Patrice who gave us advice about life. She was very particular about one thing – that we be specific.  Specificity was her favorite word.  There was a long waiting list for her class and, because I had been in the system for a while, I got first pick of any class I wanted.

I managed to get A’s in all my classes except for one,  American History.  That bummed me out.  I was having issues at home.  I had to study hard in several of my classes but I loved the learning.  I would encourage anybody who is older not to worry about returning to school.  We have advantages:  the automatic respect of the teachers, and the fact that we’re serious about school and more apt to do well than a lot of the younger students.

My son is 25, and he’s planning to go back to college.  He’s learned that it’s the only way to get a good job in the future.  That degree is going to mean everything when he goes job hunting.  He was hesitant at first but his Father went with him when he took his placement tests and he aced them.  That gave him confidence.  His Father also went with him when he had to talk with his Advisor.  With his Father by his side, it wasn’t so intimidating.  Now he is trying to get into the Community College for the fall semester.

If you’re older and thinking of returning to school, don’t be afraid of what others may think.  Most likely they’ll think you’re a go-getter and want more knowledge.  Most students don’t give you a second glance, the teachers appreciate you and you’re doing something good for yourself.  It’s a win win situation.

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