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Why Being an Older Student is an Advantage

According to the US Department of Education, in recent years more than a quarter of all college students were 30 years old or older. It’s no surprise, really, given the number of people who have been laid off in this economy. People who may have devoted decades of their lives to an employer or a career have decided that going back to school will help them acquire new skills to compete in a tough job market. Plus, a number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans returning to the workforce have found that their transition is made a lot smoother by gaining a(nother) degree.

Although it can be intimidating to re-enter the classroom (or enter it for the first time since high school), there are a number of advantages to being a more mature college student. Here are a few:

Focus. As an older student – and if you’ve served in the military any length of time - you’re more likely to know how to concentrate on your priorities. You know what your goals are and the steps you need to take to achieve them.

Self-sufficiency. An 18-year-old is far more likely to have someone else to report to when it comes to choice of major, class performance and problem solving. Although older students are likely to have families of their own, and probably still have parents in their lives, they are accustomed to charting their own course.

Perspective. Time in the real world affords you real world experience, practice at success and at failure, and it’s something that most young students fresh out of high school have not gathered. Oh, they think they have. But even after a four-year-stint in college many of them still don’t know who they want to be when they grow up. Older students have enough figured out to know they still have much to learn. And let’s be honest: once the real world has knocked you down a few times, a homework assignment or two is significantly less daunting.

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