Adult Learner: Turning your Life Around

adult learner at RCC is going for the paper to support his experience in Computer ScienceI’m too old. I’m too busy. I have a family and a job and a mortgage. I can’t possibly start over now!

If you can relate to those arguments against going back to school, you’re not alone. Most of the successful adult learners who come through our doors have expressed the same concerns—and conquered them. You can, too.

Just ask David Fleming, a local IT professional who enrolled in RCC three years ago at the age of 48.

“All my computer skills were self-taught over the years,” he says. “I looked around the employment landscape and decided it was time to ‘get that piece of paper’ that said I was qualified in my field.”

For David, going back to school was both challenging and exciting.

“I was nervous because I had always considered myself to have memory problems, from my original school experience,” he explains. “On the other hand, I knew that I had about 25 years of good work experience and habits that would make going back to school a bit easier.”

David admits he spent most of his free time studying—a major lifestyle change, further complicated by a temporary health issue at the time that drained his energy and made it difficult to stay awake while reading. And yet, his hard work paid off. In two years, David finished his associate’s degree with a 4.0 grade point average and is now working full-time for the IT department at RCC.

“If I did it while suffering from extreme low energy, everyone should feel encouraged to try going back to school,” he says. “You may find that it is much easier than you remember or feared.”

RCC offers a variety of resources for adult learners, including one-on-one advising to help with course planning, scheduling, transferring credits, and interviewing for jobs as they approach graduation. Juliet Long, chair of the Computer Science Department at RCC, offers this key advice:

“Before selecting a major, do plenty of research to be sure you’re selecting a field that is a good fit for your skills and interests,” she says. It’s also important to choose a field in high demand. “Adult learners typically carry the added pressure of supporting a family, so we want their hard work to result in the best job opportunities for them,” Juliet adds.

And if you have nightmares of hobbling on a cane into a classroom full of teenagers, rest assured. Rogue Community College welcomes students of all ages. The average age of an RCC student is 32. So no one should feel like the odd man or woman out.

“I have classes with age ranges from currently in high school to retired great grandparents and everything in between,” Juliet says.

Many students find support systems through interacting with their peers, setting up study groups, and meeting for lunch or coffee on campus between classes.

In the end, returning to school can be not just helpful but also enjoyable.

“I anticipate having to go back to school from time to time to keep up with my continuing education so that I remain competitive in my field,” David says. “The difference is that, having acquired this degree from RCC, I no longer dread the prospect of having to go back to school. Instead, I look forward to it!”

For more information about RCC’s programs, services, and campus resources, visit us online at