Authored by Douglas Mefford in College Education
Published on 06-24-2009
Increasingly, the students enrolling in higher education institutions are middle-aged people returning to their education after years of being in the adult world and workforce. Many have found their first career to be less than satisfactory and are attempting to improve themselves for better jobs. Others had to forego college due to life events and only in later life have the chance to return to their studies.
The middle-aged college or university student does have a few challenges to overcome that the new high school graduate may not even know exists. The middle-aged student may have a family they must still care for. They may have to fit their educational work around a schedule of job work to maintain a home. Because of such extra requirements, it behooves the older student to critically look at the time they will be available for school. One needs to make the best possible grade in their classes so if one finds they only have time for one or two classes a semester, then they should not attempt more.
The middle-aged student may also feel out of place among a younger generation of classmates that could well be no older than their children. This should not keep one from attempting to participate as an equal. Many younger students may actually appreciate an alternate viewpoint coming from a different generation’s perspective. It is a learning experience for them as well. Do not, however, assume your age provides your viewpoints as automatic acceptance. Your professor will tend to treat all students as students regardless of their age.
The enrollment process and seeking of scholarship or student loans is the same regardless of age. One needs to collect all the required information and documentation for applying to a college. Certifications and previous grade transcripts need to be submitted on time. Even such items as a parking permit if the middle-aged student commutes from their home needs to be acquired in a timely fashion. You may need extra time to obtain exemptions if the school you are attending generally denies driving privileges to beginning students.
The middle-aged student will need to work with their student advisor. Not only will this person help with the transition from worker to student, they can also help with finding financial aid. In this area the middle-aged student does have a few advantages. As well as the Professional Adult Continuing Education (PACE) scholarships, many companies offer financial loans and grants to returning older students in exchange for “commitment to work” contracts.
The middle-aged student should always take advantage of entrance exams to help find the proper level for their studies. There can be much you have forgotten or that has been revised since your high school days. Even if you find you must take refresher courses in subjects you were once good at, the primary objective is to get the most out of your educational experience as possible. You are paying for the education you receive so be sure you do all you can to maximize the return on your investment.