Maybe you didn’t finish your degree the first time around, or maybe you’re starting college for the first time. But you’re a little older this time. And a little wiser too, don’t forget that! Whatever led you back to academia, be it hope for a promotion, interest in a new career, or even unemployment—it can seem a little daunting to be in your later twenties or early thirties and find yourself with teachers who are the same age as you, or with classmates who have no idea what a water heater repair bill costs.
We know you’re committed to your education. Whether you’re taking classes on campus, or getting your degree online, you very much want to be there. Or maybe you’re considering a return to school, but haven’t made the leap yet. Well, we’ve got some strategies for how to deal with feeling a little older than the traditional student.
1 – You’re not alone.
You may not realize it, but you’re probably not the only slightly older student in your class. Especially if you’re getting your degree online, you may not realize that some of your classmates are in a non-traditional age range as well. Be sure to pay attention to any hints people drop during discussions that they may be a little older. Since you may be in classes with these people for the duration of your studies if you have the same major, make a little effort to get to know and befriend them. The best way not to feel like you’re the odd person out is to find other people just like you!
2 – You may be better able to navigate academia if you’re a little older.
Look, those kids who are fresh out of high school may be eager and full of energy, but the few years you’ve got on them have given you a pretty good idea of how the world works. And that bit of extra wisdom may actually help you get through your classes. The great thing about feeling like professors are the same age as you is that you understand that they have things like mortgages and daycare pickups. You might be able to understand what their goals are with assignments a bit better than younger students, and you also may be better at spotting what will be most important to them in the work you turn in. We’re not saying there aren’t trade-offs to being an older student, but it’s not entirely without advantages.
3 – You’re really just here for an education.
In the end, who cares if you’re older than other students? As long as you’re able to do the academic work, your age is essentially irrelevant. You’ve probably got a well developed social circle, so you’re not really there to make friends. You’re there to get a degree! That’s a great thing to keep in mind as you’re working through the little irritations of being one of those slightly older and wiser non-traditional students!