Things get better with age


wPg06-Templeton_SheilaBeing a nontraditional student has more advantages than disadvantages. The typical student entering college today is between 17 and 19 years old. I came back to school at age 43.

Once I got over the crippling fear of being around a population half my age, I realized something. I have something these students don’t: life experience.

This experience proved to be a great advantage in my classes.

In history classes, I had first-hand knowledge of some events, which allowed me to bring a unique perspective to class discussions and assignments.

In the study of topics like sociology and psychology, I could draw on my different interactions with people over the years, which helped me to better understand human nature.

When studying humanities, I had already read some of the works and I had visited some of the countries that we were studying, as I have lived in Europe, Central America and South America.

In my late teens and early 20s, I didn’t yet have an idea about who I was or what I was really interested in doing. I was just glad to be on my own and experiencing all of the freedoms that independence brings.

Now, after raising a family of my own, I have a much better understanding of who I am and how precious time is.

I have a better understanding of finances as well, and I think that makes me work harder and appreciate more what an education will enable me to do.

If any students out there have older siblings or parents who are thinking about returning to school but are afraid that they are too old or will be too out of touch, tell them to go for it.

Chances are good that they will bring just as much to the classroom as they will learn while they are there.

The only real disadvantage that I have found in returning to school at an older age is that I will have less time overall in the career for which I am getting my degree.

Templeton, now 45 years young, has two children – a son Jacob, 23, and a daughter Sky, 16. She is studying political science and will transfer to the University of Arizona next semester to pursue her bachelor’s degree.

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