Heading back to school is filled with a plethora of mixed emotions, but even more so if you are heading back as a non-traditional student. Here is a list of all the normal feelings you might have as you head back to school. Which ones resonate the most with you? Did we miss one you are feeling?
The month before school started I found myself overly anxious about the idea of going back to school. The return to busy schedules and overloaded time felt overwhelming. How would I juggle it all?
Sometimes we feel we are better than others. This is because some of the students we see are recent high school graduates. We’ve been there; we’ve done that. They haven’t experienced the real world. They haven’t experienced how hard life is yet.
Feeling like you’re the same level as your professor
This one is a favorite. Other students think they are on the same level as your teacher. I see other students joke around with the professor as if they are equals. This is okay to some degree, but it is also important to realize the boundaries around students and teachers, even if you are closer in age!
There was a fellow student in my calculus class who had a difficult time understanding what we were learning. For some of you who don’t know what Calculus Two is about, it explains what you learned about Calculus One in mathematical terms. It is about explaining how you got from point a to point.
This student kept rustling about the idea that the reason why he got point A to point B is that he knew how to get there.
My professor asked, “How do I know that you know how to get there?”
He answered, “Because that’s the answer, isn’t that the right answer?”
“Yes, it is the right answer but …”
“Then why did you mark it wrong?”
“I marked it wrong because you did not explain why you got that answer. You need to explain how you got from point a to point b. You can’t just put point a as the answer.”
Thinking you know everything more than everyone else
Not everybody will feel this, but many of you will. It can be hard thinking we need to follow other people, particularly when they are younger or have not had as much life and work experience.
Thinking you’re not good enough
There are times when you realize you don’t understand certain concepts compared to other students. This realization leaves you feeling vulnerable. This will be a time when you need to be open-minded.
If you went to school many years ago, you would need to adjust your thinking and remember what it is like to be a student and how to learn. That’s okay. Your professors are not there to judge you. They are there to help you. If you are struggling or feeling uncertain, there is no shame in reaching out for help.
Feeling alone/can’t fit with anyone
Sometimes it feels awkward when you’re with younger students. They have different interests than you, and they lead a different life than you. They don’t need to worry about next month’s rent, or what they’re going to cook for the kids. Most of them only worry about what they’re going to wear to the pool, or who they’re going to go with to watch a movie. This isn’t bad. This is your chance to learn how to talk to people who are unlike you. Take the opportunity to learn how to get out of your bubble and learn about new people, no matter what age they are.
Feel more closely tied to the subjects compared to your classmates
Some of the subjects you’ll be taking are subjects you might have a greater connection to compared to other students. Other students are just there to pass. You, on the other hand, might have experienced the subject more.
For example, maybe you already have had a significant amount of experience using credit cards. It will make it easier for you to calculate certain items. Other students have a difficult time understanding what credit is because they haven’t experienced it at all.
Nevertheless, whatever you feel as you head back to college, good or bad, you need to know you’re not alone. If your emotions increase or begin to bother you, you can head to the health center of your school. Each college or university has one, and they can help you with your array of emotions. Nobody expects you to have an easy time going back to school.
It is quite an adjustment. They always say that the first year is the hardest. Being open-minded and making new friends will make it a whole lot easier.