What Happens In the College Classroom

Mature StudentAs an older student, you get to see what the Department of Education has done to the system. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was implemented to ensure that all students learn at the same pace and no one gets left behind. This Act applies to first and secondary schools, but its promising ability has echoed throughout post-secondary schools as well.

This is good, you say. It depends. If you require a little more explaining to get up to speed–which is highly probable since you’re an older student–you don’t mind paying higher taxes for the educational system. In fact, you might even send a letter to your local government thanking them for finally getting their acts together. On the other hand, if you’re a quick learner, you’re in for a treat. Your days will slosh ahead like the little engine that never did. You’re compelled to hear the same instruction repeatedly and over again, sparking visions of your professor getting his or her foot stuck between the metro train cars on their way to class.


“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” – Will Durant


Fifteen to 35 students could assemble in each class, no personalized attention-grabbers here. The professors simply don’t have time to cater to individual needs, so they’ll address questions from the census. If you need more help, see the professor after class. They often have office hours for this sort of thing.

Are You in the Getting Good Grades Business?

College is work. Don’t think you can soar your way through this or you’ll plummet faster than Seinfeld’s ratings after that Michael “Kramer” Richards’ fiasco. For me, going back to college was one of the toughest things I had ever done. The unnecessary plodding and poking through one’s brain had taken learning to a new level. Surely, the process of learning in a college setting was unnatural. My brain had been washed, re-washed, and then rung out to dry all wrinkly. I could only recall half of the material that I had learned after the semester was over.

Still, you’ll want to maintain a respectable GPA (Grade Point Average), a numerical number, which is a combination of the grades you receive from each class (read how to calculate your GPA). You’d want to shoot for the 3.0 to 4.0 range, which will snugly put you up there with the “A” students. To stay in college–and to keep your grants and scholarships–a 2.0 grade point average is minimum, which is a “C” average. Remember “A, B, C’s” not “D’s and F’s.” But if home duties are requiring too much of your time, getting a “C” is better than failing classes altogether, although in most schools, a “D” is actually passing.

Which can also happen, you think you deserve an “A” and your professor keeps trumping a “”B+” your way. Professors do this to keep you motivated. Getting straight “A’s” will only make you feel that you’re not challenged enough. I say the less work you have to put into it, the better.

So repeat after me when the tough gets going: “This too shall pass. I am empowered. I am strong and confident–even if I’m about to fail this tribulation.” Scratch that last part!

Some college classes might seem easy at first and require very little time until you get that one class that will change your view of college forever. I mean that in a bad way.

College is also about endurance, the will to survive and surface in one piece. College is about learning too. But think about it, the average student spends 33 to 36 credit hours towards their major out of 120 credits total. That’s about 11 to 15 classes out of approximately 40 total classes in everything else. Granted, most schools want to create “renaissance” persons, someone who knows a little bit about everything. But no one person excels at everything. The amount of information absorbed in such a short amount of time–with four truckloads of homework, to boot–is about staying power, not intellect.

Self-Reflection in College as an Older Student

The bright side of college for an older student is that independence will be re-found. You’ve been cuddled in a dark hole for way too long. You’ll have a new sense of pride because you’re getting things done. You’re doing what you’ve always wanted to do, going back to college. If you have to confront the where-in-the-hell-is-my-spouse phenomenon these days, you can take it. Remind your loved ones how important your education is to the entire family (Warning: Please wipe the smirk from your face when you say this because they will have to pick up some of the slack.)

To try and ease the pressure that may be upon you from your family members, include them in your academic decision-making processes. For example: “Dear, which class do you think I should take next semester? Biology or philosophy?” This is a loaded question, of course, because they should avoid choosing philosophy like a bad exit route on Route 66. You’d soon come home examining everything in your lives together: Imagine you and your family sitting in the living room, and all of a sudden, “Honey, why do you think we chose burnt orange for the walls in here as oppose to eggplant?” Your spouse will then peel his or her neck sideways and look at you like bean plants just sprouted from both ears… This one is a little safer: Put your passing exams on the refrigerator (I know, reminds you of when you were in kindergarten, but you are in fact starting over). This will let them know that the money you are spending on college is actually getting some use!


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