For most students, the first year of their study program is like a trial run; you are meant to figure out if the program fits you and if it’s really what you want to be doing. For me, this was not the case.
At the very youthful age of 25, I started with my Bachelor’s in International Communication at the Hanze University of Applied Science in Groningen. I've made the change after studying Elementary Education for the better part of 6 years. I must admit, I was terrified to make this change. Not only was I much older than most students starting a Bachelor's study, but I had also moved halfway across the world and have been accumulating student loan debt for quite a few years. The idea of feeling out of place was terrifying and failure was not an option. But, once I started the study, I noticed a few things that calmed my fears a bit.
While the average age of a student starting university in the Netherlands is 18, I didn’t feel out of place in my class. This is due to the fact that the Netherlands ranks amongst the EU top 5 with highest participation rates in Lifelong Learning. Lifelong Learning is enrolment in education or in training by people aged 25 to 64, this includes workshopsand courses in higher education. But, who knows? The statistics could be wrong, right? Maybe it’s because my vanity is telling me I still look, and act, young enough to fit in with these 18-year-olds.
But the age difference is noticeable when my classmates talk about their weekends spent partying while I spent my weekend at home on the couch in the company of Netflix. Thankfully once we’re in class, our age doesn’t matter anymore. We’re all students and our end goal is our diploma, nothing else matters besides that.
The positive thing about being older than the average student is that right now I have a very clear career goal in mind and I’m a bit (albeit a very small bit) more mature than my younger counterparts. While in the past I went to college because it was expected of me and I could be distracted by anything and everything in my surroundings. Now, I’m at school with a clear goal in mind and the great thing about International Communication is that I have more than one career option if my plans don’t work out the way I expect. Having worked in the ‘real world’ I know the importance of responsibility, organization and time management. I know what it takes to succeed and I am more willing to put in the necessary work to make that happen. I'm not saying it's better to pursue higher education at an older age but in my case, it has worked out. Yes being older, in this case, is a clear benefit, so while I’ve been spending more time wondering how to stop the ageing process since I've been surrounded by baby-faced teens, it’s exactly my age what is giving me an edge over all those teens I’m surrounded with on a daily basis.
To answer the question if it's ever too late to be a student, the answer is no, it's never too late it might just look different from your classmates' student experience but it will always be worth it.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blogpost are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of Phryme Magazine.