Older College Students

Even though your an older student, you can achieve a college degree through admission, financial aid application prodedure, support groups, study technique, self-confidence and self-assurance.

Do you dream of obtaining a college degree, but tell yourself your day in the sun has come and gone, and you are now simply too old to digest material directed at the 18 year-old education scholar?

No matter how old or young it is never too late to start working toward your educational goals in becoming a college graduate! Remember the dream within us sits waiting to spread forth and become a reality. It is only the lack of belief in ourselves that stops us from achieving those things within the heart, and it is only through our own understanding, ability and perseverance that we see them become realities. Until then, they are little more than visions in a crystal ball, with no chance of development.

Some would-be students believe it is too difficult to pursue a college degree, believing they are not smart enough or personally powerful enough to see a degree through. And, no doubt, it is no walk in the park, but is and will be the most personally fulfilling and rewarding experience and personal achievement that life will bring, second only to a beautiful, long lasting marriage or giving birth to a child.

The first step in achieving your college goals then is believing in yourself and making a commitment to yourself and education that no matter what the next few years bring in personal circumstance or situation that your priority is achieving your college dream, and nothing will stand in your way in achieving them. It is only the student with this most positive and certain attitude that will succeed. Otherwise, difficult circumstances and situations are sure to arise, and without this attitude, students are sure to follow a voice within them that says, "It's too difficult, why not just quit?" And that will be the end of that. But with a positive and certain goal the voice within will remind the student of the dream, the band playing pomp and circumstance and the diploma in hand. And the struggle will seem worth it.

The second step is to begin applying to colleges of choice well ahead of time. For instance if you know the college you plan to attend has semesters which begin in August and January, it might be reasonable to start applying at least six months to a year ahead of that date. Keep in mind most colleges will require a math or English entry test and if you wait until the last minute your chances of being admitted at the time you plan are seriously reduced if you have not completed all entry requirements.

Depending on your financial situation you might also begin applying for financial aid or completing loan applications as soon as you are notified of acceptance of admission by the college. Financial aid standards of awards are generally based on need and are calculated based on the previous year's tax records. This means if both you and your husband, or in the case of single households, just you, worked full time and had a well paying job you may not qualify for financial aid. However, if you will be required to reduce hours or attending college will eat up a substantial portion of your income due to babysitting expenses, costs to travel to and from college, or other expenses associated with college, you might consider filling out an additional form available through the financial aid office regarding special circumstances. This will alert the financial aid office of your changing circumstances and they will calculate this difference when deciding if you qualify for financial aid. This could make the difference between financially being able to see your dreams become realities or continuing fantasies.

In addition to applying for admission and financial aid, if you have children you might also begin to think about reasonable childcare possibilities. Inevitably there will be a time when you won't be available to pick up your children from daycare or latch key programs. Call on relatives, ex-husbands or wives, friends, acquaintances, or some of your children's friends' parents for such purposes. Begin putting together a support team for yourself and your kids to help you accomplish your educational goals. Let others know how important this is to you and your children's future. You'll be surprised how eager others are to help you accomplish a worthy dream. Make sure these people know that you may need to call on them at a moment's notice if need arises, and that you will compensate them somehow for their help. For instance, many nontraditional students help each other regarding babysitting with the agreement of exchanged babysitting services at no cost to either.

Most colleges also have organizations specifically for nontraditional students, which may be called nontraditional student association, older student organization or something of the like. Ask your student advisor upon registering for classes if such an organization exists on your campus. Such organizations are wonderful support groups to older students, or younger ones in a nontraditional situation for that matter. It always helps to have a caring ear, and such organizations are also an excellent way to acquaint yourself with those with similar interests, who can keep you on the right track, provide study groups, babysitting exchanges, and in some cases events throughout the year and a food bank for those in need.

Once you've joined an appropriate support group to assist you in achieving goals, also think about contacting an office of the college designed for tutoring and study. This might be called office of tutoring and higher education, study aid department or some title of this nature. Again, contact your educational advisor if unsure to obtain this information. Immediately visit this office and obtain information regarding what is available to you, should the need arise, and undoubtedly it will. Remember, if you've been out of high school a while, your study skills are liable to be a little rusty, and even the most dedicated and goal oriented student can use a few tips and tricks while reacquainting themselves with the nature of study routine. They may also be able to introduce you to study groups or someone through their office particularly knowledgeable in certain subject areas.

Should you run into problems regarding a particular class don't hesitate to contact the instructor for individual help. In the beginning of your college career you'll be required to take several general study classes if you are working toward a bachelor degree and some of these classes may have as many as two hundred students, depending on the size of your university. If so, it may be difficult to hear the instructor if you're sitting at the back of the class, which is a good reason to try and be early to the class and sit in the front. Tape recorders are also a good way to comprehend later what you missed during the lecture, but will do you little good if congested with useless conversations from other class members, overriding the instructor's voice.

For those who have problems comprehending what is read from the college text book, you might consider taking notes from the chapter, and always remember to take organized notes from the class lecture, otherwise you will have a difficult time studying for the class test. Writing down what is already in the chapter may seem mundane at first, but you'll be amazed how this will assist you in remembering pertinent information, and over time, this will become unnecessary as your study, retention and memory skills begin to develop because of your initial dedication.

Above all, no matter what you may be having a problem with at a given time, remember not to beat yourself up or develop a defeatist attitude. Stay positive, constantly remind yourself of your initial goals and the end result of all the hard work you are doing now, and do relaxation and breathing exercises to reduce your stress level, mentally visualize yourself graduating and moving on to embrace life, living out your dream. Above all believe this is possible. Remember, there is no fire-eating dragon waiting to devour your dreams or rob you of your future. The only dragons are the self-defeating ones we create all on our own, ones that are imaginary and are the result of stress and a lack of self-assurance. Believe in yourself, follow your dreams with a tenacity and passion for living and you will see your dreams become a reality. Remember that you are not the first nontraditional student to walk in these footsteps, nor will you be the last, so take heart, socialize with other nontraditional students, sound off once in a while, and then have the strength to see it through.

In that final hour when you are walking across the podium, maybe with a tear in your eye, after all the hard work you're investing now is through, it will all have been worth the struggle.

© High Speed Ventures 2011