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Written By Diana Mascle
You want to go back to school and continue your education. Perhaps you'd like to earn your first degree or you'd like to earn a new degree in a different field. You've been dreaming of that degree but haven't dared believe your dream can come true because you think you are too old.
You aren't. It really is that simple. I don't care what your age is, as an experienced university educator I can assure you that you are not too old, because there are many non-traditional students on college campuses today (and likely some of those are older than you are), your life experience gives you many advantages over more traditional students, and with the growing non-traditional population many universities have programs and services especially tailored for the non-traditional student (Victoria University has a very well established extramural course structure).
Yes, many traditional students fill a classroom but every semester I have a large percentage of non-traditional students take part as well. I have students in their late 30s as well as 40s, 50s, 60s, and up. Some students have retired from one career and are looking to move into another. Some students have children (or grandchildren) who have left the nest so they are looking to enter a new stage in their life.
And it’s possible for students to balance school with work and family. You are a unique person, but your situation is not as unique as you might think.
In many ways, your age, or rather your life experience will be a tremendous asset for your return to school. Non-traditional students understand much better than traditional students do on how to manage their time and prioritize tasks. In addition, non-traditional students are often much more motivated and goal-oriented than their more traditional counterparts. Finally, your life experience also gives you a great deal of knowledge and experience to fall back on or pull from when it comes to understanding, applying, or adapting the new knowledge you gain through university. It ultimately comes down to a maturity of thinking and reasoning that can only come with growing up.
Today universities recognise they have a changing student population and offer classes in a variety of formats including on campus, off campus, televised, and internet as well as a range of schedules including days, nights, weekends, and accelerated (summer school). In addition, there are now support services available for students who fall outside the traditional student role. Many financial aid and scholarship programs also exist specifically for the non-traditional student.
In the end, it really comes down to your own gut feeling. Do you really want that degree? Are you ready to change your life? You can do it and there will be help and support available for you. Don't use your age as an excuse not to pursue your dream.