Unfortunately, students who are older than the average college student or those who haven’t been to college in years believe that they are at a disadvantage when they go to college. However, there are some such students who will tell you that having the maturity to understand the obstacles and how to eliminate them can instead serve as a plus.
Sondra Hart had gotten a certificate in Cosmetology three decades ago and became a successful hairdresser for more than 27 years.
“Obviously I was able to get a job and I was very happy with it,” she says. “But when I turned 50 a few years ago, it hit me. I am single, self-employed and have no benefits or medical insurance that an employer would normally provide.”
Hart says she did not want to go back to school. Hairdressing was all she had ever known, so the fear of trying something new or returning to the classroom after so many years struck fear into her. She felt that if she did not have a degree, she would have no way out of the situation she found herself in. She wondered how a student that is much older than the rest of the average students could fare. How would she be received. Was she too old to learn in 2018?
Dr. Tonita Smith, a counselor at Sampson Community College, who also just happens to be a friend of Hart’s since they were in the fifth grade, says any fear an older student has about coming to college, shouldn’t deter anyone from coming back.
“No matter what age you are or how long you have been away, never fear going back to college,” Smith says. “Every day of our lives, we face challenges that are new to us, but, there is always someone to help us along the way. Older students should embrace the opportunity to learn. It doesn’t matter what type of setting you may find yourself, focus on how your coming back to school will help you, your family and help you to better serve others.”
While the SCC family knows this all too well, how does one convince the student of this?
“I had never had training on a computer, I used my laptop for shopping and paying bills,” said Hart. “I had never even heard of Microsoft Word or knew what it was. What helped is getting a tutor and making friends with younger students who knew how to get around and that helped. The staff at SCC was very helpful. After about a month I was in the flow of things and I was navigating the computer. The Academic Success Center is now my new favorite place.”
Now, Hart is enrolled at SCC in the medical assisting program and says she expects to finish and that lots of doors will open for her as a result.
“If you plan to go back to school, you need to form a support system that encourages you to stick with it. You can achieve anything if you want to. You must not be afraid and with help along the way you can do anything. The world has changed and you must be able to change to keep up and SCC offers help every step of the way that will remove obstacles for you.”
Hart’s longtime friend and SCC counselor, Smith offers tips for these students. She says know that you are an individual and don’t compare yourself to the successes of others. Be honest about how going back to college would change your life and write down everything that would be positive, and everything that would be negative in your life, when you become a college student. Speak to other older college students and listen to their experiences on campus. Talk it over with those family members whose lives would change by your going back to college and take one step at a time and know that you have embarked upon a personal journey that will be fulfilling in countless ways.
If you are ready to begin that journey today, contact Smith at [email protected] or at 910-900-4112.
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