Going Back to School as a Non-Traditional Student
Learning is a lifelong process, it never stops. It is both a formal and an informal process that can take place within a structured classroom or as we navigate the day to day trials of our lives. It has no set structure. When an older person makes the choice to return to school it is often to fulfill an unfinished goal or one that was never pursued. They know that more than likely they will be the oldest person in the classroom and perhaps be learning amongst people the same age as their children. However, this fact does not deter the non-traditional student that has goals and plans that can’t be stifled by the confines of age.
Many older people return to school not so much to further their career but instead as a way of developing themselves. The 60-year-old student is more than likely already retired and returning to school to be mentally stimulated and learn. Returning to school for personal reasons often stimulates critical thinking and helps the mature adult see the world in a way that is not limited by age. Being in a classroom amongst students of all ages allows the older person to witness the unique perspectives of young people and helps to build a well-rounded individual.
There are nontraditional students that return to school to finally have the job they’ve always wanted. Consider the orderly that always wanted to be a nurse’s assistant but never felt she had the financial resources or the time and finally looks into financial aid for nursing assistant program in NY. This person understands that the perfect opportunity may never present itself so they decide to go for it while they can because time will never stop for anyone. This person understands the philosophy behind the saying better late than never.
A Life Change
Sometimes, a trauma of some type or a significant incident will shock a person into seeing their lives clearly and unapologetically for the first time. This may trigger old thoughts, goals, and aspirations that have been suppressed and dormant for many years. In spite of age and sometimes because of their age, the person is all of a sudden motivated to do many of the things they’d only thought about but never had the confidence to pursue. Prior to that aha moment, they may have been comfortable sitting on the sidelines and watching other people pursue their dreams. However, a trauma or significant life experience can act as a wake-up call that reminds the person that we don’t have forever to walk this earth and we might as well follow our heart’s.
Going back to school as a nontraditional student can be an incredibly enriching experience. You have the benefit of maturity and life experience to bring to the table and it often helps you to be much more well rounded. The reasons may vary from life changes, career goals, and personal enrichment, to a wide variety of others, however, one thing is clear, the nontraditional student is unwilling to let age hamper his or her dreams and goals.