If you’re a typical college student, then you went to college right out of high school, ventured out in the world for the first time, and you’re spending the next four years in a dorm, earning your degree, and hopefully graduating by the time you’re 22 or 23.
For some of us, life had a bit of a different plan, though.
Maybe you went straight into work after high school, only to end up at college to pursue a different career. Maybe you went to college for a few years, took a break, and then decided to come back. Or maybe it’s been a few decades and you finally decided to go back and take classes to follow a dream. Regardless, for those of us who were on the outside for a little while, we have a bit of a different college experience than those who have been in it since they were 18.
1. You’ve already been in the world, and have seen it first hand.
To some students, the “real world” is four years away. The idea of paying bills, car payments, taxes, and holding onto jobs is a bit of a foreign concept. You know that the real world is fast paced and isn’t kidding around when it comes to pulling your weight and getting your act together.
2. Living in the dorms is a struggle.
If you had your own apartment before you went back to college (and you’re not living off campus now) then you know the immense torture of going from having your own space with multiple rooms, to sharing one tiny room with a stranger. And a bathroom with 3 other strangers. And you’re still paying for it.
3. The “your forever friends are the ones you meet in college” speech doesn’t really apply to you.
During your time outside of school, you’ve managed to make some pretty solid “ride or die” friends who have stuck by you in your moments of weakness and struggles. While several people meet those friends in college, you didn’t, and that’s perfectly okay.
4. You can’t handle some of the dramatics.
Most college students have only been out of high school for a year or two, and have brought the dramatics of high school with them. The gossip about other people, the slut-shaming, the being too scared to share your feelings with the cute guy in your class: you’re over it. You’ve been around enough to know these things aren’t helpful or productive in the outside world.
5. The phrase “I’m an adult, I can do whatever I want” makes you want to laugh.
And cry. And scream. Oh sweetie. You don’t even know. You’ve seen what it’s like to be an adult. How if you don’t pay your rent, you don’t have a place to live. If you spend too much money out on the town the night before, you don’t eat the next day. Your bill collectors don’t accept an email saying “I don’t have the money right now, can I turn it in later?” Being an adult doesn’t mean being able to do whatever you want, all the time, but being able to do some of the things you want by working for it.
6. You’re very grateful at an opportunity for a second chance.
Getting into colleges out of high school can be difficult, but getting in after being out for awhile can be even worse. You tend to lose out on a lot of scholarships and grants when you don’t go to college right out of high school, so finding money to pay off tuition, books, and housing can be overwhelming. You also came back to college for a reason-rarely do ones who leave return without knowing what they want to do, so you’re grateful to have a chance to realize that dream. Overall, you’ve been out on your own and know that college is a great opportunity to move forward with your life.
7. When it all comes down to it, you’ve had a lot of experiences outside of these campus buildings, but you’re happy to be here.
You’re excited about college, living, and getting to meet people from every walk of life. You also know that being out in the real world has given you a different perspective into college that many students don’t experience, and you wouldn’t trade it for anything.