Elizabeth Shepherd recently posted this on her blog - "Positivity vs. What You Tell Yourself: Taking Baby Steps" (http://non-traditional-students.blogspot.com/). She has some good advice for new nontrads or soon-to-be nontrads.
I want to throw in my two cents worth. Returning to school as an "older student" is scary, no doubt. Been there, done that, in the midst of it right now. Each day I am reminded I am "not getting any younger". On Sunday, I will turn 48. That will be a huge reminder that I am not getting any younger. By the time I graduate next year, it will have taken me 31 years to get my Bachelor's degree. Another huge reminder. I want to go on to grad school. When I graduate from that, I will be in my early 50's. Think that's not daunting? Many people retire in their 50's, get laid off and can't find work in their 50's, or are discouraged because they are passed over for promotion in favor of someone younger. The odds are certainly NOT in my favor.
If you're ready to go back to school, I have three words for you - JUST DO IT! What have you got to lose? Like Elizabeth says, start out with baby steps, one thing at a time. Start out with one class, perhaps at the community college, perhaps just a class in something you like - maybe writing, or computers. That will get your feet wet and you'll get used to the whole classroom experience again. Or, if the last time you were in the classroom was in high school, this will give you a feel for what college is like. Being in a classroom is like changing a diaper - you never really forget what it's like (and sometimes it can get kinda stinky!).
Don't be afraid to conquer that fear. There is a whole world out there of older students who have stood right where you're standing. Some are just starting out, some are about halfway there, some are wondering, "Why in the world did I decide to do this?? Am I nuts??", and some just graduated and can tell you it's all worth it. Stand up, take one baby step, then the next and move forward. As long as you are moving forward - that is what matters. Just do it. Stay tuned . . .