You have gone through all the steps, used the GI Bill to the fullest and are enrolled in college, but you find yourself sitting in the classroom and things just do not feel right. With all the paperwork and preparation it took you to get you there, you never thought of HOW it would feel actually being in class. You never thought about how it would feel to be surrounded by kids fresh out of high school, to be surrounded by civilians instead of soldiers. You never thought about how it would feel to realize you are the oldest person in class, the only one with a family and potentially the only veteran in the room.
First, lets start off with this: we commend you here at RallyPoint for taking charge of your future and going back to school. For anyone who has been out in the academia world, it is hard to transition back. Never doubt yourself because you are going to do great.
Lets discuss some of what you are feeling:
You are the Oldest Person in Class: You find yourself sitting a classroom sitting with all 18-year-olds and you suddenly feel how much older you are. Rather than focus on your age, use this as an opportunity to share everything you learned while serving. You will be surprised how many of your peers will value your service and respect you for wanting to further your education.
Change of Technology: Depending on how old you are, along with when you graduated high school, technology is heavily involved in the classroom. If you are not use to this, have no fear. There are so many different outlets to help you learn how to use a new laptop or specific programs like Excel, such as YouTube.
No one Understands You: Most of the student population will not have the same experience you have had, and you might find you have a different work ethic than them. All of this is not a reason for you to not try to build relationships with them. They just come from a different place and still have a lot to offer. A great thing to do once you’ve picked your school is reach out to the veterans group on campus, this way you can connect to other veterans.
Staying Focused: Do you find it hard to focus in class? Thinking what is for dinner or what you are going to do with your family this weekend or your friends? When you are in class, be in class mentally and physically. You have an amazing opportunity to go back to school and better yourself. So when you are there, be there. It is impossible to not be distracted from time to time, but use what the military taught you and stay focused, finish strong and all the hard work will pay off.
Changing your Mindset: It can be extremely difficult to change your thinking patterns. You are out of the military, you are going to school and you are a civilian and it can be a challenge to change your mindset to that. Think of school as fresh start. Transitioning by going back to school gives you freedom to slowly adjust. It isn’t a race. Go at your own pace and embrace the student life…Who doesn’t love an all-nighter?
It is hard to be back in the classroom when you find yourself dealing with outside factors such as family stressors or being the oldest person in the classroom, but remember why you are there, you are doing this for yourself and your future. We support you at RallyPoint, and if you ever need some words of encouragement or some friendly distraction, RallyPoint is great for that.
See what your fellow members suggest for going back to school here and connect within in the military community.