The Benefits Of Being An Older Student
The Perpetual Student
I recently became a student again for the third time.
I did my first degree many years ago, and then a few years later went back to school part-time to do my Masters, whilst working full-time.
And now I'm lucky enough to be doing another college course! This time I'm studying part-time and working part-time too. I love studying, and hate to think that any course I do will be "my last course". In fact I'm always searching for the next one.
Right now I'm relishing the new things that I'm learning each week and I'm excited about the new career opportunities that this new knowledge may bring. But beyond that, I'm discovering lots of additional benefits of being a student. And some of them come from being an older student, as there are things that I just didn't appreciate when I was younger.
Firstly, this course is something that I've decided to do, for me!
As a teenager I felt a bit pushed in certain directions by my teachers and by my parents. Now that I have lived a bit and experienced life and work and tried out a few different things, I know who I am and what kind of work I want to do.
This course was my choice, nobody told me to do it, and nobody else is paying for it! So I don't feel obligated to attend, I'm there simply because I want to be.
I Really Appreciate Good Teaching
When you're young you tend to see teachers as these "old fogies" who tell you what to do. (To a young person, even young adults may seem old!) You may recognise that some teachers are better than others, and some you love, some you hate, but it feels as if there's this "them and us" divide. There's often a real barrier between teachers and their young students.
Now that I've done a little teaching myself, and I'm also around the same age as my teachers(!!), this whole relationship feels different. I respect my teachers so much more for what they do every day, and I understand them. They are people who are a lot like me! They have lives outside school, they have families, and they have to to juggle. They're normal, and human. Most importantly they're not trying to test me out, they're on my side, and they want me to succeed.
And from seeing so many teachers over the years I realise that my teachers are great. They're enthusiastic and genuine, and I can tell that they love their subject. That means a lot to me now, and it didn't when I was 18.
I Love My Subject!
It's my choice to be here, I'm learning about the subject I love, and my teacher is totally inspiring! What's not to love?
Confusius said: "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life".
Well the same goes for study. If you're learning about a subject you love, then you'll just want to learn more and more. And before you know it, you won't feel like you're working.
My Special Time
Everyone's life is mega-busy. We have responsibilities and lots of things from all directions making demands on our time. But when I'm at college that is my time. Something that's just for me, and completely apart from my everyday life.
At college I concentrate on my work and I don't think of all of those other things. So it's meditative and something that's very relaxing. It's selfish, it's an indulgence, and it's all mine!
For the younger me, college and my work there were my entire responsibilities! So it wasn't an escape from my life - at the time it was probably the thing that I wanted to escape from. So what used to be a bit of a chore has now become a real pleasure.
Making New Friends
You can never have to many friends! And college is a great place to meet new people.
People with a shared interest are especially likely to get on well together as it gives you a lot to talk about.
For example, my current course is in education, so everyone I meet there loves working with children. We all have kids, work with kids and are interested in their welfare. So although we come from many different countries and backgrounds, we have a lot of the same values and we really understand one another. They are lovely people and we have a lot of fun.
Student Added Extras
There are a lot of other benefits to being a student.
In my younger days these may have included some nights drinking in subsidised Student Union bars, but now not so much.
As a working, studying mum I don't have time for the many student activities and societies that are available to me. But as a student, I do have a card from the National Union of Students, which gets me reductions in certain shops, restaurants and cinemas. Discounts are always good!
I also have access to the subsidised student coffee shop,selling amazing soups, salads, pasties and Starbucks coffee. And for me, as an older student, this is one of the biggest perks of them all!
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