When you think of the typical college student the image that comes to mind is young high school graduates experiencing life for the first time. For these students school is secondary to absorbing that whole college experience and life away from home. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is this very image that deters many adults from pursuing higher education.
Unlike many twenty-something college students, getting an education is a serious business for the adult student. As an adult student, getting a degree is the ONLY reason you are in school in the first place; you already have a life away from campus, and going to school takes time away from that life. Consequently, the thought of having to deal with -- well college kids -- can be a real deterrent.
When it comes to getting a job and establishing a career, the two things that set you apart from everyone else is your education and experience. People generally get their education first, by going to college or some other institution of higher learning, and then they get experience by applying what they learned to the "real world," or they get experience in the field first, and then follow it up with advanced learning. As an adult student, you already have the experience so getting a degree will put you light years ahead of everyone else. You will be able to apply what you learn in formal atmosphere to what you already know, making your education an "experience multiplier." As opposed to the typical college graduate who has some knowledge, but lacks the experience needed to apply it.
But what about dealing with college kids? No problem, there are ways around that. First of all, you can use non-traditional programs like CLEP and your college credit for military experience to get a head start on going back to school. In addition, you will find that there are hundreds of schools that cater to adult learners - older students.
The "adult-friendly" schools offer the advantage of more flexible class schedules and are traditionally focused on non-traditional learning and all of the students you'll be in class with are "adults" just like you. Most of these schools also offer accelerated programs to help you complete your degree. These "degree completion" programs are great for military and veteran students who already have some college.
Bottom line? Don't let the image of the twenty-something college kid stop you from reaching your education goals. You have the experience; all you need to really stand out is that degree.
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