I am part of E. Shepherd's non-trad group on Yahoo. A couple days ago, we got a post from a lady who will be returning to school to finish her degree in Education. She is facing the usual non-trad fears and questions: Will I be able to make it financially? Will I fit in with a much younger student population? I'm not a math person - what do I do about that part of my education?
I wanted to give her a big hug, a cup of tea and say, "Sit down, let's talk." She is so totally normal in the nontrad scheme of things. It has been my experience that the normal nontrad's biggest fear is fear. This is what I told her:
1. Finances: Fill out a FAFSA and see what kind of financial aid she qualifies for. As a single mom, she may be able to qualify for more than, say, someone like me who is married and whose spouse has a relatively stable job.
2. Fitting in: A couple things here. 1) She will most likely be able to relate to her profs more than her classmates. 2) Some of her classmates will look up to her because she is older; she will attain the "wise sage" status. 3) Find out if there is an Adult Student Association on campus; that will be a place to connect with people who are experiencing the same things she is.
3. Not a math person: Anyone who has followed my blog for any length of time knows that I am definitely NOT a math person. I believe I have mentioned that more than once (10 times, perhaps??). :) I told her to check with her advisor and in her department for tutoring services. Making use of study groups is also a good thing to do.
Returning to school at any age is a bit scary. However, the fear is totally normal. It is the fear of the unknown. But it's like anything else. Once you get in and get used to it, you're fine. Besides, there is a whole world of nontrads out there in varying degrees of nontradism, so the support is endless! All one has to do is reach out and connect - either online or on campus. It's totally normal. Stay tuned . . .