You have just acknowledged your empty nest. Your children are all grown and living their own lives away from home. You have now decided it is time to go to college or go back to college.
College can be equally exciting for the older adult college student. Many older adults are today going back to college or just starting college.
What can you expect?
If you are starting college as a freshman it might be quite a different experience than going back to college to finish getting your Bachelor’s degree. Going back for the MS or PhD is also a different experience.
1) The older adult as a freshman
Being a freshman is a whole new experience for anyone going to college and equally so or moreso for the older adult. It is quite unlike high school.
* You will be expected to finish up a class in one semester or one quarter depending on whether the college goes by the quarter or semester system.
* There are minimal ways to get your grade. Usually only three tests count toward your grade at the end of a semester or quarter. There are usually no quizzes.
* You will be expected to read one book or more than one book per semester.
* Tests are usually on a combination of the professor’s notes and the book. You will have to take excellent notes in class to keep up with the material.
* You will probably commute rather than live on campus but some older college students want to live on campus to get the whole college experience.
* There will be a lot more written work than high school and absolutley no plagiarism allowed.
* You will need to have excellent grammar and spelling skills for your written work.
* All college papers are now done on the computer so you must be computer literate.
2) Going back to college as an older adult
You may have started college years ago but never finished and now are going back to get your degree as an older adult.
Going back to college will be different than just starting college, because you know the routine. You will know all of the above. Now you just have to do the work required. You know the whole college procedure. Maybe a few things have changed such as the computers and night life.
You may not wish to go to wild college parties like you did when you first started college when you were much younger. You are more mature now and are looking to just finish getting your degree that you started on years before.
As to computers, all written work is done on the computer.
3) Going for your MS, PhD, or Juris Doctorate
You are now an experienced college student even though you may not have attended college for years. You know all about college life and the way the college system works. The only difference is that you will
* write more
Graduate college students do a lot more writing than undergraduate students; and usually the grade is based on your written material rather than tests.
* do a lot more research
Since you will be writing more, you will be engaged in a lot more research. You will have to be familiar with writing a wide variety of types of papers and a thesis or a book. Use of footnotes, a bibliography, and annotated bibliography are necessary.
* make presentations
You will be making presentations of your written material. Use of Power Point and other presentation programs will be necessary. Good speech making skills are necessary.
Graduate material is usually easier than undergraduate study because by the time you get into graduate school you have learned your background material. Although easier, the MS and PhD subjects are more specialized and require a lot more work than undergraduate study.
Now that your children are grown and living away from home you can fully realize your dream of going to college or going back to college; and fill your empty nest with books and knowledge to replace the children and their toys and games and all the responsibilities that went with raising your children. College will be your new responsibility.