The decision for an older student to return to higher education is often a serious one. One of the biggest concerns is the notion that older students are not as intellectually facile as younger students. Not only is this a misconception but an older student’s intellectual capacity is supported by a number of advantages unique to their age group.
Older students are those who have lived full lives that provided them with skills younger students may not have gained. One of the most important of these skills is adaptability.
Having already encountered a wide range of experience, an older student is more flexible and resilient as the changes of being back in school take place. While younger students become overwhelmed with the expectations of higher education, an older student is better able to accept and move on.
After all, an older student has had high expectations placed in front of them many times before.
2) Time Management
The older student has time management skills that surpass those of younger students.
Having most probably raised a family and been faced with many work challenges, the older student has already learned how to organize themselves to get the most out of their time.
Given the challenge of fulfilling the requirements of one or more classes, an older student is able to calendar deadlines, prioritize tasks and be efficient.
Time management can be one of the most difficult elements of taking on higher education. It is often the breaking point between being timely with fulfilling assignments and being late.
Younger students can find themselves confounded by the amount of work it takes just to prepare an assignment let alone have it ready by its due date. “The dog ate my homework” is no longer an acceptable excuse and younger students are shocked when they see grades fall because of work being late.
Older students learned this lesson years before and realized a course syllabus is to be respected.
3) Delaying Gratification
An advantage that accompanies excellent time management skills is the ability to delay gratification.
An older student understands that there are a time and a place for everything and doesn’t have problems working when it’s called for.
Younger students often yield to their social life and schoolwork sits on the back burner. Older students have had their youthful social life and can exercise restraint so they can get their schoolwork accomplished.
4) Life Experience
One of the biggest and most unexpected advantages of being an older student is to realize how much you already know about many of the subjects you’re studying.
Years of living and being in the field practicing what you now seek a degree in giving an older student an edge in the classroom.
Life and work experience inform your perception of what you are learning.
An older student is a valuable contributor to class discussions and can present points of view from different perspectives. An older student can serve as a positive example and a mentor to younger students.
Returning to school as an older student and gaining the degree you’ve wanted can be one of the most fulfilling experiences you’ve ever had.
Once you are on campus, you’ll see how many older students are there and how seriously they approach what they’re doing. With all the advantages older students bring with them, they are a valuable asset to higher education.