6/05/2017

Returning to college as a nontraditional student is not for sissies

Another semester of college is under my belt and I could not be happier. Returning to college as a nontraditional student is not for sissies. My challenge had nothing to do with the classroom and everything to do with acceptance as an adult college student.

This took me by surprise. Everyone has been very accepting until this semester. Don't get me wrong. The students that I came into contact with were all nice. However, being nice and accepting an older student on a college campus are two different things.

It showed up in little ways. Things like a person walking up to tell me how much she supported older students "my age" in our pursuit of higher education. My mobility challenge was mentioned more times that I can count (often in reference to age). It was as though some people had to "prove" how accepting they are of older college students by referencing my age or mobility several times in a single (usually short) conversation. Unfortunately, the "proof" came across as being a backwards sort of fake acceptance.

People who accept you for who you are don't constantly reference those things. "Proving" in this way comes across as short-sighted and shallow. It's like an insecure person who becomes the center of attention because it helps them feel more confident. The person is nervous on the inside, but putting on a mask on the outside.

I think people who struggle in their acceptance of older or non-traditional college students go through something similar. They are insecure or nervous about older students and overcompensate.

Every student isn't like that. Some, like the study groups in my English course, were genuinely accepting. I was just another student to them and it was super nice. That is true acceptance. I talk about it in my video below. If you're a student who followed me here from my YouTube shirt, then I'd encourage you to take a few minutes to watch the video.

To the adults who are considering going back to school, my suggestion is to go. Follow your passion. Live bodaciously and enjoy it. Every time we accept ourselves enough to live our dreams, we're teaching the world to accept us to. Returning to college, being a nontraditional student, homework, classroom time... it's not for sissies. It's for trailblazers.

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