Adult Students: College Instructors Love You!
Nervous about returning to school because you’re afraid that the instructors won’t welcome you? Well, think again. In my experience as a professor, most college instructors are delighted about having nontraditional students in their classes. Oh, there are exceptions, of course. (Some professors just don’t like anyone, unfortunately.) But here are some reasons why many instructors—myself included, back in the days when I taught—adore nontraditional students.
First of all, adult students appreciate their education. They’re working hard to balance work, kids, and whatever else is going on in their lives, and they wouldn’t be in college if they didn’t know it was worth their time. With so many undergrads around who see college as a burden, or who are only in college because it’s “what you do” after high school, it’s refreshing to have students around who are delighted to have the opportunity to get an education.
Second of all, adult students are respectful. When I started teaching in my early twenties. I feared that nontraditional students wouldn’t take me seriously because I was younger than them. Not so. Adult students respected me because they knew I had something to teach that would be useful for their careers and lives. They understood how much I work I put into my teaching, and because they were hardworking professionals themselves, they appreciated this.
Instructors also like nontraditional students because they don’t play games. They don’t have time. There’s nothing teachers hate more than students who try to do as little work as they can to get by, or who whine and try to bargain for points and special exceptions. Most adult students are way past this kind of nonsense, especially because they’ve been in the working world for awhile and know it doesn’t work.
Finally, professors who teach discussion-oriented classes love nontraditional students because they bring such a diversity of experiences to the table. Many traditional students appreciate this as well, and feel they can learn from those experiences.
So, if you’re going back to school, don’t worry about whether you’re going to be welcome. Sure, not everyone will be eager to have you around, but that’s true in every situation. Most college instructors will be delighted to see you in class the first day.