Bethann21

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I am 35 and trying to picture myself sitting in class with traditional aged college students. I keep thinking that I might be more comfortable taking the lower division courses at the community college because the cc, in general, has more older students. I am picturing myself as being uncomfortable sitting in a university class with 18 year olds. I have 30 hours left to complete my BS in Psychology and need to take every prerequisite for med school. I also will not qualify for financial aid at the cc because I have over 100 credit hours.
How should I handle this and overcome my fear? Any experience with this will be appreciated.
 

DrMidlife

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My experience at 38+, surrounded by 18+ year old classmates, can be summarized as follows:

1. Smartness is universally awesome. The 2-3 classmates to whom I became close and with whom I studied were brilliant. It didn't matter at all that they were 19 year olds who didn't know how to do laundry yet.

2. The time I spent thinking about how anonymous & lonely it is being surrounded by 18+ yo classmates, and/or being worried about fitting in or making friends, was completely wasted time and I wish I could have it back.

2a. I should have spent much less time mothering my 18+ classmates, listening to their problems and offering advice, sharing "back when I was your age" stories, having them over for dinner. I ended up feeling popular with the kids but that wasn't particularly valuable to earn.

3. Oh dear lord, what killed me was ipods and texting and snack food wrappers. I grew up without trendy toys and without disposable income and brought my PB&J to school and respected the professor. I recommend preparing yourself emotionally to find your happy place and to not lose focus when the 18+ y/o kids surrounding you are eating cheetos, texting, and having full-volume conversations, no matter where you sit in a 300 seat lecture hall, even if they're 6 feet from the lecturer. This damned near killed me.

Best of luck to you.
 

Deepa100

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I also went to a large state school. My experience was totally #1 from the following post. Other than one really sweet 19 yr. old Russian girl, I did not socialize much with them, however. I was pregnant when I did the prereqs so, all I wanted was to go home and sleep:D

My experience at 38+, surrounded by 18+ year old classmates, can be summarized as follows:

1. Smartness is universally awesome. The 2-3 classmates to whom I became close and with whom I studied were brilliant. It didn't matter at all that they were 19 year olds who didn't know how to do laundry yet.

2. The time I spent thinking about how anonymous & lonely it is being surrounded by 18+ yo classmates, and/or being worried about fitting in or making friends, was completely wasted time and I wish I could have it back.

2a. I should have spent much less time mothering my 18+ classmates, listening to their problems and offering advice, sharing "back when I was your age" stories, having them over for dinner. I ended up feeling popular with the kids but that wasn't particularly valuable to earn.

3. Oh dear lord, what killed me was ipods and texting and snack food wrappers. I grew up without trendy toys and without disposable income and brought my PB&J to school and respected the professor. I recommend preparing yourself emotionally to find your happy place and to not lose focus when the 18+ y/o kids surrounding you are eating cheetos, texting, and having full-volume conversations, no matter where you sit in a 300 seat lecture hall, even if they're 6 feet from the lecturer. This damned near killed me.

Best of luck to you.
 

mzblue

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I just turned 24 and and after taking a year off post grad, i wasn't nervous going back. However, i realized how old i am sitting in class with all those 18yr olds. i skipped the lower level BIO courses and took upper level 200 and 300 BIO and someone mentioned some schools require the basic level 100 ones. The only thing that's surprising is me thinking the class is very easy and hearing the teacher say "some of you may need to drop this class". I'm like huh?!
I went to a large private university and one of my bff's was 35 when we started. She didn't look 35 to me and she was older than my other friend and myself (who were silly teens back then) but we hanged out and did stuff together and we didn't care or even think of how old she was. Only difference was she had a husband and 3 kids. I wouldn't worry if i were you.
 

combatwombat

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I felt like I stuck out in my post-bac classes and I'm only 26. There's just no getting around it, you're older and might not mix in with the college crowd. Most kids will probably be nice enough although a few of the more immature ones will give you the harry eyeball.

Just remember that you're there to kick as$ and take names, not be Ms/Mr popular.
 

ChuckSlayer

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The best thing to do is just focus on your classes and screw everyone else. You know what you want and that is more than those 18 year olders can say for the most part. Keep your head up and persevere!
 

CCbound

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I went back as a 48 year old and decided not to worry about the age thing. Most of the other students ignored me, but a few wanted to get to know me as I have been one of the better students and they want to learn from you. I have thoroughly enjoyed being around the younger people. Much energy is gained by being surrounded with people who are young and have energy. Enjoy the ride and don't worry about age!
 

2010houston

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Don't even worry about them! I did my post bacc at a school with literally ZERO non-trads, esp in the basic science courses. But the nice thing about most of the med school pre-reqs is that they're big classes, so you can just blend in and the 18 yr olds will just think you're some grad TA sitting in on the class ;-) And a lot of them are very nice anyway.

But to answer your original question - it was not uncomfortable at all, and even in lab - when you actually had a lab partner and got to talk to people - they were all really nice and/or indifferent to age. Don't worry about it, and don't go to a CC just because of the age thing if you don't want to!

My most amusing story from the whole experience was a girl from China - just moved to the US a few months previous for school - who clearly thought I was completely insane for being 30 and planning on med school.
 

akinetopsia

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I think unless you draw attention to yourself as far as "back in my day" stories, no one will notice or care that you're older, unless you're literally gray and wrinkled. It's a non-issue for the most part. I'm 29 and no one really noticed, but I moisturize. >.>

To go along with what Dr Midlife said, the snacking in class/texting in class/recapping last night or last weekend's events does happen. Since a lot of schools have wireless in the lecture halls, be prepared to see a lot of people on Facebook as well.

If you can tune out the distractions you can do pretty well. In my case, I just had to sit fairly close, not because of bad vision or anything, just that typically the bulk of the heavy talkers/distracting people sit in the back or on the sides. The front 2-3 rows are typically the ones where people were really paying 100% attention.
 
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Bethann21

Bethann21

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Thanks to everyone who replied. It does seem kind of silly in retrospect, considering everything else there is to worry about.
 
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I am currently 32 years old and am at a Private University with all the teenagers. I will say, that at times I do feel slightly uncomfortable with the other students and even sometimes with the Dean as there are only about 4 older students total at the school I attend. I dont really socialize with the other students at all. However, I am aware that this is not at all important in the grand scheme of my life, and what matters is learning, getting good grades, and getting to where I need to go.
 

CogitoA1

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Can you be more specific? What exactly is the nature of your concern?

If it's the feeling that others will perceive you as weird, strange, etc., then you can relax. They won't. I remember well a few markedly older students in law school, and no one thought anything of the sort. If anything, we were impressed that they had the fortitude and drive to go back to school. You're a student like them, only with an added level of mystique, experience, and wisdom. And, frankly, it may enable you to relate a little better with your professors, develop a relationship more easily, be more memorable, and land a good recommendation.

Now... and here's the bad news... steady yourself... if you're concerned that you won't be able to handle hangovers the next day as well as the younger crowd, then your concerns are justified. I'm sorry.
 

Signaq

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O.K....guilty as charged. I've been known to open a snack wrapper or two during lecture. After working a full day then attending class through 10pm there isn't much time for alternative dining arrangements. I don't crinkle loudly though -- very covert!

I also had my own old lady rant when I heard that papers no longer are typed with 2 spaces after the period. Yes, then I let it rip how in MY DAY I learned to type on a manual typewriter when 2 spaces was mandatory. Ah well.....

Other than that, I think I blend in pretty well and definitely second Dr. MidLife and others who've already posted. You'll be fine :)
 

ShyRem

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I was 36, sitting in physics lab with my partner when someone asked me how old I was. I told them. My poor partner turned to me with jaw dropped open widely, somewhat pale, and said "You CAN'T BE!!! That's my MOTHER's AGE!" I gave him a kleenex and told him to close his mouth before he caught flies.

I also spent quite a few hours tutoring my younger compatriots in their chosen majors. Wonderful what experience does for your brain.

Don't be intimidated. You'll likely be surprised by how well you do.
 

n3xa

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3. Oh dear lord, what killed me was ipods and texting and snack food wrappers. I grew up without trendy toys and without disposable income and brought my PB&J to school and respected the professor. I recommend preparing yourself emotionally to find your happy place and to not lose focus when the 18+ y/o kids surrounding you are eating cheetos, texting, and having full-volume conversations, no matter where you sit in a 300 seat lecture hall, even if they're 6 feet from the lecturer. This damned near killed me.

Best of luck to you.
I remember sitting in calculus at the age of 19 and a few kids in the corner wouldn't stop talking. So this post-bac turned around and reminded them that no ones forcing them to be there and that since she paid using her own money to take this class, she'd like to get her moneys worth.

She was awesome.
 

MedicineMike

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Granted, I am only 24, it is still different for me to be in a class with teenagers again. In just about every study session i have to explain myself when they say "wait, you already have a degree...and your going back?? I dont get it." Other than that, I will say that it is definitely easier than you think to go back to school! No, the classes are not easy, but you know what it takes to get good grades now that you have matured. Every now and then I keep finding myself chasing after/flirting with the cute girls in class, but I just have to remind myself that this time around counts and I am in it to learn, not to chase females. (that was my problem the first time around!)

Best of luck to you! You will be amazed that you were worrying for nothing!

Oh, and since youll probably be making the best grades in the class, everyone wants to talk to you and be your friend! It's kinda cool being the smart guy for once cuz lord knows i wasnt that way in the past!
 

punkiedad

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I went back as a 48 year old and decided not to worry about the age thing. Most of the other students ignored me, but a few wanted to get to know me as I have been one of the better students and they want to learn from you. I have thoroughly enjoyed being around the younger people. Much energy is gained by being surrounded with people who are young and have energy. Enjoy the ride and don't worry about age!
The energy thing is dead on. I felt more energized with the youngsters. I am 38 now and was 35 or 36 when I started back. I was just myself and didn't think twice. I felt totally accepted and even bantered back and forth with many of the more obnoxious ones, but got a long great overall. A couple of the more funny excerpts specifically :

--one of the older non trads with me told one of the guys in our O Chem class that she would buy him a drink (innocently) for helping out in lab, he replied "I'm not 21 yet" She yelled "Oh my god....hahahahahah" It was funny

--One of the youngest girls said something like "well at least I am not old like you!" This was in jest and was in our fourth semester. I quickly quipped back "I may be old, BUT I don't need anyone to buy beer for me AND I only have to stay at my parents house or call them WHEN I WANT TO.....!" Everyone laughed.

--I made a reference regarding Doogie Howser and got the reply "Who is Doogie Howser?"

--I tried to be cool and say "I worked for a cell phone company, I have been texting since 2000. Its no big deal. To which the person responded....2000? I was 11?!?!? To which I replied WOW. and then shut up.


Overall, it wil be waht you make it. Enjoy yourself!
 
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Bethann21

Bethann21

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Have I mentioned how much all of you rock?? I have decided to attend a state university that's affiliated with a medical school. Supposedly forty percent of the undergrads are over 22, and they have a huge adult student center with its own tutors and computer lab and advisors. Thanks to you all for your input.