Older, wiser and in the right place

As a 26-year-old, first-semester freshman, I have to admit that at moments, I feel as though I am out of place. There are definitely moments of awkwardness as I am sitting in classes with people that are, on average, seven years younger than I.

According to common data sets for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years, NKU has had a two percent enrollment of non-traditional students (students 25 years and older). Also, according to these same common data sets, the average freshman is 19-years-old.

On the other hand, as far as main campuses of the University of Cincinnati, Miami University and the University of Kentucky are concerned, they have not had any non-traditional students at all for the last two school years. In the case of University of Cincinnati, all of their non-traditional students attend either the Clermont or Raymond-Walters campus branches. For the 2008-’09 school year, the Clermont branch had 34 percent non-traditional students. The numbers for the Raymond-Walters branch could not currently be found.’ ‘

Some students are actually quite comfortable though. Students such as John Beach, a 56-year-old freshman psychology major chuckled at the idea of feeling out of place. He feels that being a student at any age is ‘A great thing [to do]…’ and feels that ‘Fear is what holds most people back,’ from joining school at an older age. The only problem he found he has in college is, ‘Rememberin’ stuff.’ A famous non-traditional student we have on NKU’s campus is 47-year-old Chris Sabo; a former third-baseman for the Cincinnati Reds from 1988- 93 and then again in 1996.’

One of the disadvantages of being in this position is the responsibilities that come with being older, especially if you decide to live off of campus; bills, payments, and possibly children. These things can put you into a position to have to go part-time, or to pay for a sitter if you decide to go full-time.

The advantage for some, though, is the ability to register as an independent while filling out the FAFSA. There are some who would otherwise be ineligible for loans and grants through FAFSA due to parents’ income, or for other reasons, who are now eligible to receive them based off of their own income as a 25-year-old or older.

Looking back, despite the awkward moments, I am glad I started college when I did. Feeling 100 percent confident in my major and my minor as well as completely confident in what I want in life; unlike the way I was seven years ago. I would definitely recommend taking John Beach’s advice; and if you know anyone who is older and considering returning to college, inform them that it might just be the most important and best decision they could make to improve their lives.