When I was your age…

Jason SchiltzJason Schiltz, 38, is a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies Organizational Administration student from Appleton, Wis. Schiltz was inspired to go back to college in 2009 by his wife, who also completed a Bachelor’s of Liberal Studies in Organizational Administration from UW Oshkosh. Schiltz said he also hopes to motivate his three young children to continue their education.

Humans have a basic need to be accepted. For you psychology majors and buffs, you know this quite well. Many of us nontrads might try to dismiss this need, but the fact remains; deep down, we all want to fit in. It can be argued that fitting in as a non-trad may be easier the younger you are, but I would like to point out just three rules you must abide, to fit in no matter what your age.
First and foremost, you have to accept that you are NOT an 18-year-old freshman. No matter how you dress, how you talk, or how you walk; you are…different. Your classmates have noticed, your professor has noticed, and you know it; accept it. Once you have accepted that you are not the same, you begin to develop the ability to fit in…better. You will surely be better accepted.

My second point ties very closely with my first, in that you recognize that you are different. This recognition means that you have to make a conscious effort to leave your VAAAAST experience at the door. You are, most likely, in this class to learn. Your thoughts are not any more valuable to the student body of this course than the 19-year-old sophomore that you sit next to, and the professor does not need you to expound on his or her every analogy with your own words and personal experience. Now you have to realize, I am not trying to tell you that nontrads are to be seen and not heard; but take care in what you say and how much you say it. If you are in a classroom of traditional students, allow the professor to teach and allow yourself (and your classmates) to learn.

Finally, you have to recognize when to forget rule number one. You aren’t an 18-year-old student; you might have children as old as the students sitting next to; but you are in college. You are here to learn and to have a bit of fun (more so if you think learning is fun). Go with it. Forget you’re older. Realize your classmates are adults and can handle a conversation with another adult…maybe even lunch. In the end, to fit in and be accepted, the nontraditional student needs to accept the traditional student and forget his or her differences.

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