What I have Learned as an Older College Student


I decided to become a college student at the age of 35. (You can read the story of how I made that decision here). I am now 38, I have my Associate’s Degree in History, and am continuing my education at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. When I first started school three years ago, I was at Del Mar College and only had to take two classes on campus, and I never got to know anyone in those classes. At TAMUCC, however, online classes are few and far between for the higher level classes, and not something offered often in my field (History, with a Secondary Education Concentration). Which means I am now on campus for several classes Monday-Thursday, and many of these classes are with the same people because we are in similar degree plans.

During this time I have learned a lot as one of the oldest students in this group of students.

  • Snapchat is Life. Snapchat is not an app I have ever been interested in, I do not even think I have it on my phone. But that is a MAJOR form of communication for the younger students in the group I am in. Facebook is for groups they are forced to be in, Instagram may get updated occasionally, Tiktok is for fun, and Snap is how they talk before, during, and after class.
  • The girls are FIERCE and AWESOME. Sometimes I find myself in awe of these girls. They are strong, opinionated, and not scared to express those opinions in class or to their peers. They want to travel and do things before settling down. They love the idea of marriage and family, but they have such a strong self-identity they are not willing to settle or give that up for anyone! I literally watched a situation unfold where a girl decided that the guy she was talking to and hanging out with just did not give her good feelings and she was seeing some red flags, so in class, right then and there she texted him “I think we should just be friends.” That was it, it was done, nothing further to think about. Let me tell you at 21, I probably would have taken months (if not years!) to see the red flags, and then, to send that message would have been a whole thing, with tears and probably a lot of apologizing or guilt. If we hadn’t been sitting in a classroom I might have stood up and applauded this fierce woman!
  • They are just as clueless as we were. I give these kids credit for going to school. Despite not always having a clear idea of what they want to do or what they want to be, they are here. I did not have that resolve. Which is why I am here at 38. But if you ask them, especially those who are graduating soon, what do you want to do, or where are you going, they will often answer with a shoulder shrug and say “away from here.”
  • The slang is just weird and hard to keep up with. If you have been around a group of teens or young adults for any amount of time you will know that the slang is just strange, and really there is no point in keeping it straight because things change so quickly. When things blow up and become a part of Pop-culture to the point even my 4th grader knows about it, that is when they will move on to something new. But I have found if you use slang, ironically or as a joke, you can fake it and they at least don’t make too much fun of you for being old.
  • Moms: THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING. If they pretend to not know how to do things like, find grades or get around…that is definitely an act. The online systems for grades and classes are a daily part of life. It is how in ALL classes the professors assign things and expect them to be turned in, even for in-person classes. I do not think I have had to turn in more than a few things to professors in person. Sorry kids hate to tell your secrets. While I would note that not all professors are great about grading things in a timely manner, if they tell you that they just do not know their grade, it’s more than likely because they just don’t want to share it. And I have heard them making plans with their peers, they are capable young adults when they want to be. Give them a little room and they will get it figured out.
  • College is expensive ya’ll! I mean we all know the tuition is expensive right?? At Del Mar I was paying a couple of thousand dollars a semester, at TAMUCC I am paying WAY MORE!! Then you have books and all the other expenses involved. For example, if I had bought all of my Textbooks from the University Bookstore I would have paid over $400 in just books for this semester. Also, professors are legally not able to tell people to go anywhere except the bookstore to buy books. So you have to get creative, I have found a couple of options that help me save money. One is a website called ABEBOOKS here you can find used books for pretty cheap, the downside is the shipping is often longer from this website, so you really have to order early if you need a book by a certain date. Another site called Internet Archive is a resource where you can FOR FREE rent PDF versions of books for a few hours or for a couple of weeks. And then
  • I have also utilized Amazon to rent my books, many times for cheaper than renting or buying from the University directly. But many of these options would be lost to me without the help of these really savvy students who are always finding ways to get through school without spending money on boring things like textbooks.
  • If you want to go back, you won’t be alone! I remember being so nervous about returning to school at my age and then having to be in a classroom, I thought I was going to stick out like a sore thumb and never speak to anyone. But the truth is there are a lot more older students in the classroom with me, and these kids that have taken me in as a part of their group have been so kind. They often ask me questions about marriage, kids, and “real” adulthood that crack me up. And bonus most of the time I am the same age (if not a little older) as the professors so at least I know how to connect with them if I need help or guidance.
  • And most importantly…..THEY ARE BUSY! I think we all forget the school workload when we are not in it every day. I am currently in 4 classes and the reading and writing workload is overwhelming. Honestly, I should be reading and not writing this but my brain needed a creative break. Not to mention many who I am in class with do other things like clubs, dancing, and sports. I just don’t know how most of them do it, I barely know how I am doing it other than my relationships tend to suffer because I am always working on schoolwork when I am not doing everything else.

This is just a small list of things that I have noticed in my time as a student, but I feel grateful to have been able to gain this perspective. Especially since I want to teach at the secondary level, I feel like I can better connect to and prepare my future students knowing the things they are going to face in just a few short years.

But I knew I had made it when I got added to the group text, which I promptly had to mute LOL!!!

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Jennifer is a Coastal Bend Native, born and raised in Ingleside. She began contributing to the Corpus Christi Moms Blog in 2018 and stepped up as the Community Engagement Coordinator in 2019. She is happiest when she is crafting, writing, or doing anything artistic. She loves music, especially ANYTHING from the 90's, and is often seen dancing around the kitchen to Nsync while cooking dinner. She is married to Derik and has two kids, Connor and Keeley (pronounced Key-Lee). Jennifer still feels like a novice when it comes to parenting and enjoys letting other moms know they are not doing life alone. She also admits she watches copious amounts of Netflix, but balances that out by reading to and with her kiddos as much as possible each day.