Older students have little to fear, experience makes college easier

Benjamin Schwerke, Staff Writer

The cultural norm is that you graduate from high school and you move on and into college. Your final couple of years of secondary education are usually spent focusing on this shift to college; heavy emphasis put on accelerated classes for college credit, mastery of standardized testing to appropriate college readiness, and development and submission of college applications and entrance essays. It would seem like the most effective method of learning, especially when there are no gaps in your education, is during the formative years of age four or five until your senior year of high school, generally around age 18.

This has been the norm for centuries, but as a person who has lived and experienced this phenomenon without succession, and having recently reentered the college environment in my 30s, I would like to make an announcement: IT GETS EASIER!

College is a full on life experience, and for many of us it creates an opportunity of training for our professional lives. For those of us who are not adequately prepared for the whirlwind that is college, experiencing this at 18 or 19 does not translate the same. Now that I am experiencing the rigors of a full college schedule, as a 33-year old, with almost 15 years of “real world life experience,” I am finding that the classes and content are easier to comprehend and internalize. The information seems more relevant now that I am an adult, and especially because of how I can relate the concepts in classes to the real life situations that have happened to me or people I know.

I understand that most high school seniors think they know it all, and I certainly fit into that category when I first attended college as a budding, 18-year old smart-ass. One of the barriers, though, because of my mindset, was my inability to see how certain core or general education classes applied to my life. It was also common for me to think that my shortcomings in certain classes were due to a professor’s personal vendetta against me and my future success. Boy, was I way off. Not only was I far more immature than I let my Freudian id and superego externalize, but I was creating the largest barrier possible to my success as a student and beyond.

One of the most important things I have learned since attending college the first time, is the fact that the foundation for a student’s success is understanding that post-secondary education is a shared learning experience. What I needed to understand, more than anything, is the importance of communicating with my professors. They are the most important resource towards every student’s goal of excelling in class and acquiring “the golden ticket” in the form of a college degree or certificate. If anyone understands the difficulty of balancing a school schedule with the rest of the things that life has to throw at you, it is your professors.

No matter what age college student you are, and regardless of your educational success in the past, there is hope for success for everyone in college. Utilizing your resources, especially asking your professors for help, should always be one of your first options. The clarity afforded by time spent in the working world is not something that can be utilized by every student, but for those of us who returned to college after a hiatus, I promise you that school gets easier.