Just because you’re an adult learner doesn’t mean you can’t meet new people. For many college freshmen, making friends at a large college or university is not easy. This is especially true of adult learners, who may feel out of place on a campus populated with so many younger classmates.
As someone far older than the average undergraduate, you might already have a life outside of school that includes a spouse, children, and friends. For this reason, you may not see much purpose in getting to know your classmates. However, it is really in your best interest. Here’s why:
Adult learners may be older, but that does not mean they know everything. There are sure to be times when they will have questions about an assignment or not fully understand a new concept, especially with all the new technology available today. While professors should be able to provide clarification, sometimes it is nice to turn to the student in the next seat and receive more immediate answers to questions.
At the same time, having friends in class can come in handy when a major test is approaching. Being part of a study group can mean the difference between a mediocre grade and a stellar one.
If older individuals are going back to college to earn a degree and switch careers, they will need all the help they can get in today’s challenging job market. Whether students are pursuing a degree in business administration or criminal justice, their classmates may have similar career goals. These individuals could become valuable allies in the post-graduation employment search.
Where to Begin
Adult learners who want to enhance their collegiate experience by making friends can try a few things. For instance, USA Today College recommends that students sign up for extracurricular activities, such as joining an on-campus club. This will allow individuals to connect with like-minded peers.
Simply striking up a conversation also works. Ask the usual questions to get a conversation going, such as “Where are you from?” and “What classes are you taking?” to get the ball rolling and see where it goes from there.
Meanwhile, HerCampus advises students to attend a lot of school-sponsored events. Everything from on-campus concerts to cultural events can provide great opportunities for socializing.
At the end of the day, it’s beneficial for you to be immersed in your college experience — not just fly through it. You may be surprised at how much you get out of it, both personally and professionally.