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College offers similar challenges for students – young or old

Staff Writer

Some would say it is more difficult and awkward to start college in your 30’s than start fresh out of high school. But to 38-year-old college student Sandie Simmons and dual-enrolled high school senior Deven Orr, the troubles and anxieties are much the same.

Both students said that finding time to study and finish homework is difficult. “It’s hard to finish tasks when I have a household to take care of,” explained Simmons, who attends Baker College. The situation may be different for Orr, 17, but the effect is much the same. Orr, who attends classes at Mid Michigan Community College, noted, “Socialization and budgeting time is difficult with all of my college homework.”

When asked what time management advice Simmons would give to others facing the same busy schedule, she replied, “Don’t wait till the last minute. Give yourself little blocks of time to get stuff done each day. There have been several instances I have waited till the last day to start an assignment, and sometimes that does not leave me enough time to complete it.”

A psychology major from Rosebush, Simmons admitted that she sometimes feels awkward being the oldest student in a class. She said younger students may have an edge that she cannot compete with, because they have recently learned a lot of the material in high school that is being reviewed in class. “These are things I haven’t thought about in 20 years, or that I have never learned at all,” she said.

Orr, who is looking to study engineering, agreed. “In my freshman year I did harder math than my mom was ever taught in high school,” the Clare resident said, noting that some of the college work is simple review for him.

He also said the older students shouldn’t feel anxious about returning to a class full of younger students. “Relax, we are all here for the same reason,” Orr said. “Without judgment, I would look to an older student for guidance.”

One area Simmons said she may have the advantage over a younger college student is life experience. Orr agreed. He said he sometimes feels inadequate and believes he doesn’t have anything relevant to say during class. He said if he had more experiences to share, he might find it easier to participate in class and find essay topics.

Simmons advised younger students to use their high school knowledge to stay ahead and remember that no matter how much life experience one possesses, everyone has something valid to contribute.

Despite all of the troubles involved with school, what keeps both students – young or old – coming back to class? Their answers were much the same: To develop the skills needed to obtain a career rather than a job.


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