Going Back to School
Are You A Current Student in College?
Are You a Current Student in College?
College at 40?
I will admit it hasn't been easy to go back to school at forty. It is possible but it isn’t easy. If you are thinking about it yourself let me give you some pointers. First and foremost it is doable if you believe in yourself and work hard. Consider it like a job, because you will work hard.
I attend a community college and like many other non-traditional students and surrounded by people half my age. The classrooms are vaguely familiar to the high schools of twenty years ago, but they vary greatly from each other.
Some classrooms have more than fifty students others may have as few as ten after the first couple of weeks. Let me explain this to you. When the new semester begins the classes are usually full, some over capacity, but within the first fourteen days many, sometimes twenty-five percent or more, of the students drop from the class for a variety of reasons, including financing, teaching style, or schedule. So expect the size of the class on day one to be different from the size of the class on day thirty. Attendance is critical to staying in school and getting good grades, even missing one day can affect your grade, and some professors will deduct severely for unexcused absences. I had a professor explain to me once that a student who misses a day during the first month of school is highly likely to fail out of the class. Be there and be on time.
You will instantly be hit with the concept of critical thinking, which means you must put on your ball cap and understand what you know and don’t know. Don’t be worried to express your views on topics, most classes welcome input from the students. Just expect it to not always match up with other students and/or the professor. Use your brain and ponder over what you are studying. Try to make it relevant to what you know. I remember studying “The Book of the Dead” in Humanities and had only heard of it from the Mummy movies, it ended up being very different, but the connection helped me to remember this ancient text.
Now mentioning a Humanities class and the Book of the Dead may fill you with dread, let me give you some suggestions, start small, and focus on English and Math the first year, add an elective you think you might like, be it Psychology, Science, Art, Music, or any other topic that sounds interesting and fun to you. Don’t overdo the classes at first; you have a good chance of being overloaded and discouraged. I would try nine to twelve credits max if you are going full time and six credits for part time. It is important to focus on these classes and attempt to keep a great GPA.
Next get involved, find clubs and organizations that you are interested in, many including student government often times have scholarships which can help take away some of the financial burden of school. Look for clubs that you have interest in like a foreign language or English, or possibly a Chemistry club. Even if you are not in to academic clubs look for Drama, Chess, Speech, Running or other recreational clubs. Clubs are incredibly important because they make the experience of joining the school so much more enjoyable and it’s a great way to meet other students and form friendships and possible study groups.
Focus your time away from school on balancing work, family and studies, don’t lose sight on any of these and attempt to keep them in line. Give yourself time to study daily in a quiet location if at all possible. If you start to fall behind focus on the big assignments before the daily homework, the big assignments normally carry the bulk of the grade and the homework just a small percentage of it.
Most importantly is to realize that it is your responsibility to get the work done, to find the time and get the assignments in. Believe in yourself, work hard and soon you will be walking across that stage with a piece of paper in hand.