Thursday, April 17th, 2014

The Challenges of Attending College as an Adult



At 45, I am considering attending college for the first time ever.  Curious about the experiences of other adult learners, I reached out to my friends on Facebook: 

Lorraine M. Pasquali: I dove in feet first, like I do everything. After the first class, I felt I had made a huge mistake and cried in my car for 10 minutes before driving home. The workload seemed daunting… I was still working a full-time job and planned to attend classes at night (3 of them – Its that Feet first thing). Everyone around me was so much younger, and they didn’t have day jobs to worry about. I considered myself to be rather tech savvy, but the Library may well have been the Starship Enterprise. Legal briefs, I have to write legal briefs? LexisNexis ? – Never heard of it. Fortunately, I hung in there… By Thanksgiving, I was firing on all cylinders – reading chapter after chapter, writing legal briefs and acing essay tests. That same professor that had scared the living sh*t out of me on day one stopped me after class and told me, “I’m really impressed with the work you’re doing in this class.” It was a total immersion experience. It had to be. I continued classes year-round. I think I if I had stopped/taken a break, I would have lost momentum. They joy of learning and that I continued to surprise myself is what kept me going. I earned a bachelors degree in 2 1/2 years. It was the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life.

Robin Hudspeth: When I was in my forties, I went back to finish my bs and get a master’s. For me, the hardest part was the lack of physical stamina. I took a LOT of naps, sometimes in my car in the campus parking lot! It was harder than I thought it would be, but soooo worth it.

Sabrina Wellendorf: Yeah.Going back to school at 52 & competing with 18-yr old brains was tough. Doing homework “old-school” (hand-writing everything, taking notes, watching videos & taking notes. Did I mention taking notes? & lots of notes.) was tough. While everyone else watched videos & retained everything while I struggled with taking notes. The reward was I passed my CST first time with flying colors!!! Lesson–do what you know best–the rest takes care of itself.

Susan Willner Jones: Nursing school at 44.. thought it would be cake- it was a tech school and I already have a bachelors- HA! I couldn’t have been more wrong! One of the toughest things I ever did- even if I didn’t have kids and financial struggles along with it. Whoa~ new respect for all nurses! I am sure I couldn’t have done it when I was younger- maturity helped me succeed.

Are you also considering a return to school? These links may be helpful:

10 Things an Adult Learner Should Know Before Going Back to College from

Adult education: Is it worth going back to school? at

5 Tips for Going Back to School as an Adult at

Returning to School as an Adult at

Myths That Keep Adults From Going To College at

Going Back to College at

6 Tips for Adults Going Back to School at Woman’s Day

Have you attended college as an adult? Please share your own experiences in the comment box below.


3 thoughts on “The Challenges of Attending College as an Adult

  1. Addendum: You’re an adult. Your world view and common sense are far more sophisticated than most of the kids in your classes. Use that to your advantage. Don’t just show up and take tests. Talk to your instructors. Ask about and suggest creative ways to get the most out of their classes so your education advances your career. Join study groups because the kids can benefit from your maturity and you can learn from them how to take tests again. Whether you want to show off or lead the children into their new worlds is up to you but it’s a lot of work and that’s what they pay the profs for.

  2. I got my bachelor’s in 2009, left high school in 1972. Call it 40 years. I enjoyed attending Boise State but finding classes that led to my degree at times I could attend is one reason it took so long. I could have taught several classes. I wanted to slap most of the children around me who had no appreciation at all for the skills of their professors or the gift of knowledge they were receiving. Their fundamental reading, writing and research skills were frighteningly awful. As a real adult with a real job in communications, I was able to make special arrangements with most of my profs to do my research and papers focused on my existing career instead of meeting their (silly) syllabus goals. I dramatically improved my working knowledge in several communications fields, highly specialized and theoretical training, that would otherwise have been impossible to acquire.

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