Going Back to College After 30
A Guest Post By Arlene Mones
Thinking about going back to college? Well, I have and it is one of the best decisions I ever made. The thought of going back to college can be overwhelming. You may wonder how you are going to afford it, how will I have the time to study, with conflicting thoughts of really wanting to have that degree. A degree in anything, but just to be able to tell your employer you have a degree, to stop hitting the brick wall in your career because you don't have one.
I decided to go back to college after a seven year break from college and in some ways it is so better this time then when I was in school before. In the 90's, I had to search the card catalog if I wanted to find a book in the library and I had to go through several books to make sure that they were relevant and also had to check the copyright dates to make sure the book was not outdated. Today, you can use goggle or use the library database. If I am on campus and I "Google" something on campus, it will let me know if it is a full text article in my university's database, at least this is how it works at the University of West Florida. I can also use the library databases, like Lexus Nexus. These databases also work like Google, I just put in search words in quotation marks, and it does a search for the topic or topics I am looking for. It is great. No more going through the library carrying heavy books, no more disappointment that someone has checked out the book you probably needed. No late fees or worrying how you are going to carry all of these books.
Another pro about going be to school this round is that you can actually email the professor. This still blows my mind. The first time I was in college, 1993, we did not talk or see our professor until next class. If we had questions, there was no emailing the professor, much less expecting an immediate answer like most of the college kids (from the instant generation) expect.
Now to the cons of college, there are a few, but they are not bad enough to make this an excuse. One con is that most of the people in my classes are much younger than me. They do not respect their elders (the professors) like we were brought up to do. They may constantly talk or interrupt the professor, especially in some of the core classes where they are fresh out of high school. Not all of them are like this, but you will see this, do not be shocked.
Another con, if you study better with someone that studying by yourself, try to find someone your own age to study with. The most of the younger students do not like to study with others, they may tell you that they will study with you at first, but they usually say they study better alone.
If you are going to go back to college and you are going to be expected to do group work, make sure you have text messaging on your phone. From my experience, you will not be able to get a hold of anyone under the age of 25 if you do not have text messaging. For some reason they will not answer their phones, but they will text. If you need to talk to them, as crazy as it sounds, text them first on what is about and ask if they can talk, then tell them you are calling them. I would rather talk to someone then text, but this generation likes to text and they usually do not return your voicemails. It you have a major project, if you can't communicate with your group members, do not expect the project to get done.
Now with our technology, we do not have to go to the class room we can take classes online. There are pros and cons to this alone. The pro is that you don't have to quit your day job to go back to school. The cons are that online is more expensive and you will have to allot more time to figuring things out, because the professor is not there, literally there, to tell you what they expect.
If you go online try to find out from an advisor or other students the professor's style. Finding out their styles and what is expected will help you succeed because some online professors are not organized and are not always good at explaining what is expected in the class. Some of them are not good at returning emails and do not want 80 emails if they did explain something well. Call or set up a time to meet with the professor to find out what will be expected in their course. I did this one semester when I had to take all my classes online because of my work schedule. After meeting with one of my professors, I realized that she was a librarian at the school and she was able to assist me if I had any questions.
Overall, I would say that my experience with college this round is much better. I am making better grades because I want it more now. I can use my iPod to record my lectures, instead of worrying if the whole class will look at me as I flip my tape in my tape recorder. I started with one class at a time and eventually decided to take more. Even taking one class will get you closer to your college degree, then not going at all. I was scared at first, but I am glad I did it and I am proud to be a part of "Class of 2011."