Going Back To School

Ruth - Central Lake, Michigan
Entered on April 15, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
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Going Back To School

I believe older adults can succeed in higher education. Returning to school can be a big challenge and may be over whelm older students. It takes a lot of guts to walk into a classroom on the first day, especially if one has been out of school for 34 years. On my first day of class, I walked in the classroom, looked around, scared to death, and I wondered what I got my self into this time. Right away, I spotted a few people my own age, and they looked as nervous as me. Older adults offer unique input in discussions because of their life experiences. Most adult students are more dedicated to their learning and know the importance of being prompt and prepared. They are used to multi-tasking: working a fulltime job, and running a household. Adult students take a lot of pride in their work, and most are self disciplined.

When it comes to living history, I believe older adult college students have a few advantages over younger college students. They have experienced first hand historical events that younger students only know vicariously. I was seven years old the year John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I remember sitting in front of our black and white television watching it for days and how the whole world was devastated. How sad it was when the announcement came over the television that he passed away. I was too young at that time to realize how history was unfolding in front of my eyes in my life time. The younger students listen and ask questions when the older student has input in class discussions to things that happened in their lifetime.

Even though we know the past, the present is a mystery. Not knowing what the college lingo is can be very confusing and can be one of the biggest disadvantages to the adult college student. My first day of English class, the professor asked us to write a thesis paragraph. I didn’t want to look foolish in front of the class. I was lost; I had no idea what a thesis paragraph was. I looked at Carmine, a younger student that was sitting right beside me, and said, “here goes nothing.” She laughed and said, “it’s easy, just like any paragraph you’ve ever written.” I thought to myself with pride, I can do this.

I have an older friend in another class who signed up for classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When he first signed up his schedule read TH. He missed his first day of class on Tuesday, because when we went to school, TH meant Thursday.

I believe the adult student can succeed in higher education. Classrooms have changed over the years, but if a person is willing to accept the change, the rewards are tremendous.