First off, let me start by saying it can be done. It isn't easy, but it can be done.
I was so excited when I got accepted to school back January. It seemed like it took forever for the first day of school to arrive although it was merely weeks away. The first day came and I was a nervous wreck. I felt like I did the first day of high school...absolutely mortified. Needless to say it was smooth sailing that first week and by now I'm an "old pro".
I had a few blunders that first week and by Thursday I had a massive meltdown about 20 mins before class. I had forgotten some mandatory items that were necessary for my classes and was ready to go home and crawl under a rock. I felt completely stupid, as though I lacked common sense but then realized it was just first week jitters and was greeted by a fellow student who basically "took me under her wing" and told me it would be okay while offering me some amazing study habits and daily routines to adhere to.
I must say a lot has changed in 24 years, when it comes to retention of key notes and studying habits. I never remembered this much homework in high school; of course most of the time I was too busy melting over boys or hanging out with my friends at the mall to do homework. LOLLL Fast forward to the here and now, I had, in one night, 45 pages in two books no less, for one course to read. The other course was 15 pages, altogether 60 pages in ONE NIGHT.
"They are trying to kill me" I thought to myself.
There were quizzes and to keep us out of our "zoning" we'd get hit with a surprise question at random by the instructor. I made sure I wasn't one of the surprised students who got chosen by the instructor. I made sure I paid attention. I took tons of notes. I raised my hand and was involved with the lectures. I've gotta tell ya, it makes life much easier when you are not the one standing in front of all your peers with that "deer in the headlight" look upon your face when called on in a random fashion. I've seen what happens, it isn't pretty.
I was also worried that I would be the only one who was 40 and over and would be chaperoning some 20 somethings as though we were on a field trip. Turns out a lot of moms and dads near my age and even older had the same idea I did...to get some schooling so they can provide a future for themselves and their kids and/or grandkids. I wasn't alone. And even some of those 20 somethings are pretty fun to hang out with. They make me laugh, and I give them a few chuckles here and there. It's truly an enlightening experience to say the least and not just academically speaking. We also have that "one annoying person" who just doesn't realize that this class isn't the "all about me show", we have another individual who is the "brains of the operation", and then there are others, like me, who just pray they pass that conversion test in the hopes of sparing their dignity.
It's fun. It's exciting. It's like a "get out of jail free" card for those stuck in a rut or those who just want to explore other avenues in life.
If you are 40 and over I highly suggest going back to school. It's amazing what an uplifting experience it is. Not to mention the friendships you make in the moment and who knows you may make them for a lifetime. School is my new "happy place", where I enjoy the camaraderie of my fellow classmates and the humor and lessons I receive from my instructors, not to mention the college community as a whole.
Let me just leave you with a few handy tips that may help you if/when you decide to jump onto the college bandwagon. These may make your transition a little easier.
*It's okay to be nervous. I put my kids cereal in the fridge, not a bowl of cereal, but the actual box, on my first day of school. If you find your self doing this, take five minutes to put yourself on a time out and go sit alone in a chair or outside and collect your thoughts. Breathe. It will be okay, I promise. If you're not a parent and you find yourself putting a box of cereal in your fridge, and you don't even eat cereal, you may want to return it to the neighbor's house where you probably took it from and then send yourself on a time out as well.
*Highlighters are a 40 yr old student/parents best friend. My kids thought it was cool I could draw in my school books. Need I say more?
*The first day you get an assignment, do it. Don't look at the assignment and say "oh, this is easy", because it's not. I promise you that. And being out of the academic realm for 20 plus years, makes it even harder to play "catch up".
*Learn to take a break from studying at least every hour. On average that first week of school I had about 2-3 hours of work a night. And I even got weekend work as well. BOOOO!!! HISSS!!! Breaks are important they keep your mind sharp and allow you a chance to visit with the real people in your life so they don't forget who you are.
*Don't be afraid to ask that 20-something for help. Just because we are older, doesn't always make us wiser, and we certainly don't need to pretend we are. If you're stuck, just ask someone to help you get unstuck. And if you fear those 20-somethings because they are thinner, prettier, more muscular whatever the case may be, then ask someone else, ANYONE for help.
*Vending Machines are your worst enemy. Stay away from them. Bring lunch/snack from home. Cheaper and more healthy. Unless of course you grab one of those oat and honey bars...I love those suckers. lol
*You may want to work out prior to starting classes. I would suggest you taking your medium sized(40 pound) dog and throwing him over your shoulder while carrying him up and down your flight of stairs a few times a day. I guarantee you, carrying all those college books around in a backpack can do wonders for your back and shoulders. I told one of my peers "I don't need pilates anymore". It's true. But if your not in shape, it can get ugly after those first few days of school. I speak from experience.
*Take notes. Lots of notes, even if it doesn't seem important, if it comes from the professor/instructor's mouth, chances are it's important. Bring a tape recorder, or hire someone to take notes for you, because there are a lot of them. I highly suggest a weekend class in learning shorthand, if that's even available. Or making up your own version of shorthand, because these instructors talk fast and won't rewind on request either.
*Last but not least, enjoy it. Enjoy every moment of learning. It's not always such a chore. I have so much fun in my classes, because I enjoy what I do. I do have amazing instructors, I couldn't have asked for better ones, seriously. I enjoy learning something that I want to do not as a job, but as a career and hopefully someday as my own business. So the heavy workload, and "boulders" in a backpack, not to mention the occasional hand cramp from writing so much(I don't own a laptop unfortunately, still stuck in the 80's there my friends) and the massive amounts of stress and tears and joy and happiness when you see that giant A on a paper/test is all worth it. There is a bright golden light at the end of the tunnel and all the hard work is NOT done in vain.
Bright Blessings to you on your new beginning!