Moreover, he explains that the influx of older students has led many colleges and universities to set up organizations, clubs and advisement offices on campus specifically for their adult learners. Some even hold separate orientations for their older students that are meant to address their specific circumstances, which Doolin strongly encourages attending, adding that they can be instrumental in helping you learn how balance a busy work schedule with your new educational commitments.
However, whether or not your school has organizations specifically designated for your older demographic, “don’t be embarrassed about taking advantage of the resources on campus,” Marcia Cantarella, author of I CAN Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide, who also went back to school later in life, says.
The professors won’t go easy on you.
When New Jersey resident Len Saunders went back to school to get his master’s in exercise physiology in his 30s, he thought the professors at Montclair State University would take into consideration that he and the other adults in his night classes had other pressing obligations, such as a family or a full-time job.
“I assumed the teacher would take it easy on us, since our lives were so busy,” Saunders tells MainStreet. “I was completely wrong.”
He explains that the expectation was squashed once the professor assigned 150 pages of reading, plus a paper, to be completed by the next class. Saunders, who took things slow and was close to 40 when he graduated, adds “as you go, it gets harder and harder.”
Canterella also says that while undergraduate degrees are less intensive than master’s programs, the amount of work required to obtain one can be disorienting to students who are only familiar with high school-level courses.
“The amount of work is very different,” she says. “You can’t wait until the last minute to do a paper based on several months of reading."
As such, time management is of the utmost importance. Canterella says that adult students need to rely heavily on planners and should use the course syllabus to map out and complete coursework in stages. Saunders also advises that adult students involve their families in their plans.