ADULT EDUCATION – Taking Classes as an Older Transfer Student
Who ever thought that going back to college, late in life, was a great idea? For anyone contemplating this endeavor at MSU? Here are a few helpful ideas:
First, JUST DO IT! Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I always say. A good friend of mine reminded me, “So what if it takes a few years?! How old will you be in a few years if you DO NOT take classes?” Take the leap of faith! There is a whole world of learning out there for you.
I was terrified at first—I didn’t know how to use Blackboard, which is the computer software that MSU instructors use to schedule assignments and communicate with students. I didn’t know who to talk to about my course of study. I didn’t know how to go online and schedule anything. I didn’t want to be the old lady in the class who just wasn’t “hip” to new stuff, and I certainly did NOT want anyone to know that I am not the most computer-literate person on the planet. Guess what? That doesn’t matter at all…
As an adult transfer student, you will be in for quite the awakening, in the most satisfying of ways. About Blackboard – I went to our library and sat down with a young student who had the patience of a saint. She helped me log on, showed me how to navigate the site – was just going out of her way to be friendly and helpful. She gave me the encouragement I needed to go home and tackle it. I called back with questions which were always welcomed.
MSU has a terrific Outreach program for older adult students, and my advisor, John Hall, sat down with me and explained the process of signing on to classes, how to get transcripts from the college I attended way back in the 70’s, and helped me immeasurably. He was always available by email and was encouraging and had an answer to all of my “what now” questions as they came up. I was also assigned a mentor in the College of Business (that’s my field of interest) in my course of study, who again sat down with me and went over my plan of study with a fine-toothed comb; she was more than helpful. These folks don’t just advise and turn you out into the weeds – they check back with you, let you know they care about where you are going with this. It’s invaluable. It’s encouraging. It’s uplifting. It’s worth it.
Now, about the computer in general: don’t freak out about it! MSU provided state-of-the-art software for me to use on my journey, the new Office package, totally free of charge. And use it I did—but NOT without the help of the all-knowing Computer Help Desk staff. Believe me, when you can’t get your speech to transfer to Blackboard, you don’t have to pull your hair out – those Computer Help Desk people are kind, generous with their time, and they just “get it.” Loved every one of them and I hope I’m there when they have all their children….it’s just the Grandma in me.
I was made to feel just as much a part of my classes as people much, much younger than me. I participated in online discussion groups (all my classes are online so far) and got to see first-hand how bright and talented this young generation has become. I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie between students from 18 to 80. When the semester is over, I miss hearing their opinions, feeling their acceptance, learning from their wonderfully growing minds! I would have lost so much without their sharing the lights that make them shine!
I know that being in class, in person and on campus, has its advantages; but don’t be afraid to sign up for online classes. My instructors were always just an e-mail away, and they provide quick answers to questions. Here’s the most important thing to remember: No question is too stupid, no question is dumb, and they go out of their way to get you an answer and be helpful. There is, my friends, NOTHING to lose in doing this.
Were there difficulties? You bet. Sometimes I would procrastinate and wait too long to study before tests. It’s important to “keep up” with your syllabus, and not be lazy about it. Online tests must be taken by a certain time on a certain day. And the tests are timed, so that will make you nervous. But your scores pop up right away, so you know your strengths and weaknesses in an instant. If you are like me, and working a full-time and part-time job together, you have to MAKE yourself study on a Sunday afternoon when everyone else in your family is doing fun stuff. The rewards are great, my friend. (My daughter-in-law teaches high school biology, and lo and behold, we discussed the heart’s atrial valves and what have you….) Share what you are learning with your friends, your family – they are encouraging in your quest to learn more and do more and be more.
The Bookstore on the few days before classes start is a sight to behold. If you need books, don’t wait until the last minute – it’s like a minefield in there! But the joy of getting back into the college swing of things again? It’s only multiplied as the classes continue.
Please contact someone in Academic Outreach if you are considering taking classes—give yourself plenty of time to obtain all of your college transcripts. Enjoy this time of learning when you didn’t have to. There is a great deal of satisfaction at the end of it, and a desire to just keep going is overwhelming. You can say, “Look what I did. Way to go, me!”