Going back to school if you’re over thirty can be a frightening experience. It has been years since high school and surely you have forgotten all your math skills. You have responsibilities, a household to run, a mortgage, perhaps kids and you fear that your brain is full of cobwebs.
Yet, going back to school can be exciting, if you use the right approach. And with the right tools, you can be quite successful. You may not realize it, but you have an advantage over the teenagers that are crowding the desks beside you: You have experience. After you spend a few years in the workforce or juggling a family budget and a hectic schedule, you gain a different world view. And that world view will help you to greater college success.
You see the big picture. You have learned the value of goal setting and have achieved some of your goals. You have learned that small steps and small accomplishments eventually add up to large accomplishments and you have acquired the patience to take it step by step.
You realize that you learn for no one but yourself and you don’t blame the teacher when you make a mistake. You have learned to take responsibility for your actions and to own your successes and your failures alike. Teachers respect and appreciate that.
You understand the mystery of preparation and you know that reading ahead keeps you abreast of new material. You come to class with an idea of what will be discussed that day. You are prepared to ask questions and discuss facts and ideas. You communicate well and without undue aggressiveness. Teachers like that too.
You know that learning takes more time as you get older, so you review often and study daily. You don’t wait until two days before a test to cram. When a teacher tells you that you are responsible for the material in the book, you read it. And you apply what you read to the test questions because you have learned critical thinking.
As you get older, you gain a deeper understanding of connections. You become an expert at linking facts into complex bits of information. You craft a concept of how things work and are able to put it into your own words. Rather than memorizing strings of information, you create associations and get a solid grasp on the subject matter.
You treat your college classes like a job, which means, you show up for classes and you show up on time. You dress appropriately and professionally and you keep your cell phone turned off during lectures. You take good notes and re-write them when you get home, while the information is still fresh. You take advantage of teacher office time and are unafraid to ask questions if you need clarification. You develop a friendly, but professional relationship with your teachers.
Lastly, you know how to prioritize. While your family may come first when you are at home, you know to make school your chief concern while you are in class or studying for a test. You are capable of placing your social life on a back burner. You know that your success is much more dependent upon grades and learning than upon your popularity with your classmates.
If you approach college, using your life experience as a guide, you stand a good chance at doing well, even excelling in your classes and your chosen field. Don’t let age stand in your way to a better future. Yes, you may be forty or even fifty by the time you finish, but remember, if you don’t go to school, you will still age, but without the benefit of a college education!