How to go to University after 40
OK so here it is.
Here in Iceland it is very common to go to University as an adult. I am by far not in the older faction of students at school. I see many people older than me working there but´s off to make a better life or to follow their dreams. I love it. We the older people have a totally different experience than the younger generation. We demand respect and when we don´t get it we become insulted. I have experienced more in the last 5 months than in the last few years. I have become an advocate for respect at school. Here is my experience;
So I show up totally unexperienced and have no idea of what to expect. I haven’t been in school for a long time) over 20 years). My first week was all about shell shock and dealing with the aftermath. The next week the anger set in.
Where do I start?
The teachers speak to everyone like children, “kids lets settle down” really?
Why are you walking out I am not finished (answer my kid needs to be picked up from daycare)
The questions on the tests are either, you looking for exact sentence quotes in a 1000 word book or questions that are misleading, double negatives or too hard to understand. (If I actually understood the question I would probably have a good chance of answering)
Most of the teachers are very good but the culture of trying to screw you over is overwhelming.
I would be a pretty good student if I only understood what they were asking and what the answers actually meant. Is that really OK? Do we want Universities to act this way?
I spoke to the head of the business department and told him that I felt they were tripping children just learning to walk without a response. (We are the kids learning to walk they are tripping us) I seriously feel if you are teaching you should teach for success not failure.
They have classes where teachers go through the examples but I and many others feel that all you do is copy off the board in a frenzy and really don´t learn much. They encourage discussion but don´t really like to have opinions that are not exactly what they expect.
I have a lot of opinions and questions and so do many of the other mature students but we feel that they are unwelcomed.
I would like to see a class for new students that show you the ropes, how to study and how to figure out what is important.
By the way, announcing you have a high failure rate is NOT a good advertisement, especially when the school notices and decides your class is no longer composer because the failure rate is not helping the schools reputation.
Don´t get me started.
I have now figured out how to study ( 20%) and do not have a breakdown at each class. I know I do not need to attend every class and understand that classes are a guideline.
I have grown up a lot (funny I am over 40) and have learned a lot that I have forgotten immediately.
I was interviewing an intern the other day that said that he was finished his BE but forgot everything. Big respect for honesty!!)
I now only have exams left, and have created my insane schedule of what I have to learn. Yes I am working and realize I am competing with kids that live at home sucking the teat of their mother’s goodwill and good for them. (Bitter) not becoming but natural.
My grade point average will reflect my hard work, work ethic and overtime, (I have no time am always working) while theirs will reflect their comfort. (Most likely I will suck and they will do fine but after full classes, part time work and sanity time I won’t be up to speed) In the workforce things will turn around. As my son says there are a lot of people that have a really easy time while others work themselves through education. We may get worse grades but we defiantly learn to organize our time better.
I have to laugh at myself though because one of my jobs is hiring University students and they are brilliant. I could never compare myself to my hires since they are the cream of the crop. MIT, >Stanford, Tufts, Dartmouth, Oxford, Cambridge, London school of Economics. They are amazing.
I hire from European Universities, Asian, South American, African and they are just as brilliant.
I guess what I am saying is that we have a huge treasure of young and old people and we need to appreciate them and give them the respect they deserve when they deserve it.
How about letting students know what to study so they can succeed.
Oh here is one. I can´t tell you how many text books I have read that say the same thing over and over again in different language. Textbooks that could be at least half as long and more to the point. Your mission is not to bore me into submission it is to teach. I know you are a Ph. D but we are just trying to getting through a program, teach me what I need to know and skip the rest of the fluff.
There has been at least two times where I have seriously thought about writing to the authors of the textbooks and complaining about the ridiculous amount of repetitive information. I don´t have endless time to read. LESS IS MORE:
What about interactive study? (Not finding exact phrases in a 1000 word textbook).
We need to find a better way to teach many subjects. I have worked in the business world for many years and yes finance, bookkeeping and economics are essential but let’s put it into perspective.
Marketing, how about the whole course be about a business plan where you have a company case. I learn more from doing than listening to a professor telling me about his day or his ideas. What about online marketing is that something we will learn about in year 15?
Each semester it gets better and from what I hear the respect gets to be more and more. I just wish the respect factor would start at day one. I have kids in University and I have never felt so sorry for them until I went to University and experienced the disrespect of a first year student. I love my kids and am very proud of them for going to University, Yes there are people that go just to try but is it OK to treat everyone like they don´t care about succeeding?
I met a girl today that works her ass off and if extremely frightened of failing. She is bright, a hard worker and has ambition. Why not support her?
We generally are not there to fail. Teachers can be amazing. Two of my hardest classes last semester had the best rating but it was because they were interested in our success and when their tests were unrealistic thy made changes to correct them. They listened. I like that. They were available all the times and were concerned with how we felt.
The University of Iceland is a world class school and has, I am sure many of the same problems as other schools (a lot of the textbooks are from Stafford or Berkeley).
One thing I know is that when you involve people, let them have autonomy, trust them and give them an opportunity to learn in an interactive environment you will reap the benefits.
What are we trying to do? Educate or humiliate?
I showed up from a corporate environment, have owned and run businesses and have wide experience in the corporate world. I don´t know much but what I know is that we can do this better.
What is your experience?