Why Being The Oldest Student In My Year Puts Me At An Advantage

Shutterstock / Nejron Photo
Shutterstock / Nejron Photo

It’s Fall 2015, and all my high school classmates finished their bachelors last spring, and are on their feet and working full time jobs now. Or so I thought.

Yes, many did finish, or are in the process of taking the last of their course requirements. At this point they should more or less have their lives figured out, and be working jobs in their field – right? Wrong.

Due to the lack of life experience, having gone straight from high school to post-secondary, they never got the chance to really work, and I’m not talking a part-time job as a server, but something more meaningful than that. Most didn’t have the opportunity to travel the world, and let’s be honest, they had no other focuses in life other than school.

From the day I graduated high school, I committed my life to my ballroom dancing career. Though in the end it didn’t work out for me the way I planned for it to, it gave me four years of life experience that most people don’t get the opportunity to have. While everyone was already creating thousands of dollars of student debt and partying at keggers every weekend, I was on the journey of following a dream, figuring out what I really wanted, and seeing my own thoughts and perspectives change over time.

Four years later, I hear regrets about program choices, I hear the typical “What am I doing with my life?”, and here I am, knowing exactly what I’m doing, and where my degree will take me when I am done with it.

First week of school was tough. I was surrounded by kids, 18-year-olds who still had braces and acne (no offence), and I felt like an unsuccessful loser who realized what she wanted a little too late.

But as classes progressed, and I watched these kids struggle, I realized what an advantage I had. I had four year of life experience that they didn’t get before going on their journey towards their bachelor degrees. I had watched people my age struggle with school, and I learned from their mistakes. Sitting in classes like Accounting, I’m able to compare every single lesson to something I did or learned through work and experience, whereas those around me are having the hardest time of their lives.

Going to university late is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

And with this experience, I realize it’s never too late. I realize perhaps our system is crooked, forcing kids to decide who they want to be at age 17. Not everyone is ready for that kind of commitment, especially when it costs thousands of dollars.

I’ve worked, I’ve travelled, I’ve lived an “adult life” for the past four years, and I know exactly what I need and want from my university experience. My parents didn’t have to force an idea into my head of what I need to do with my life. I learned it all on my own, and now I’m ready. TC mark

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