Posted by SgtSphynx (1572 posts) -

I received my high school diploma in May of 2001. Returning to school after all these years, I feel more fear and nervousness than I ever have. I don’t know why I am more afraid of walking on the campus than when I deployed to Iraq, or when I heard the news about 9/11 knowing that my mother was in DC at the Pentagon at the time. I think maybe it is fear of failure, which might be my greatest fear. Or perhaps it is fear of not being accepted by the university I wish to attend, then again maybe I am getting ahead of myself and it is a combination of these fears including that I have to take the SAT, a test I never took before since I joined the Marine Corps straight out of high school. I really wish I had taken it when I was still in high school now.

Math, a subject that I grasped with ease and considered my strong suit all those years ago, I found lacking on taking the practice test. I found my skills lacking to the extent that I fear that even with a month to go until the test, I may not be able to bring them back up to where they were. Thirteen years can do a number on your proficiencies when not used, most anything beyond basic algebra seems like gibberish to me now.

On the other hand, English, a subject I would have considered one of my less than stellar skills, seems to have improved in the intervening years; other than my tendency to write in a conversational way and use comma splices. Maybe those skills just haven't deteriorated as much.

I guess there is really nothing I can do but study hard and try not to let my perfectionist tendencies take control.

#1 Posted by TruthTellah (9481 posts) -

@sgtsphynx: It's natural to be nervous about going back to school. There's a lot to the mindset of "school", and that can be intimidating to take on when you've been away from it for a long time.

I had to take a few years off from college for medical reasons, and when I initially came back, it was scary. Fortunately, you get used to it. It's really more or less just an additional job where your work is to better understand material and show that understanding. Set aside time like a job, and eventually it just feels like a natural extension of your schedule. It can be tough to adjust to at first, especially if you're going to go hang out on a campus with a lot of younger people, but that unease is normal. You'll be back into it in no time. :)

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#2 Posted by tsutohiro (364 posts) -

First and foremost, Thank-you for your service. Fear is not reality. You won't fail. You'll adapt and you'll succeed. Study hard and try not to let your perfectionist tendencies take control.

#3 Posted by SSully (4336 posts) -

Don't worry duder, you will do great.

It will be tough adjusting, but put in the work. If you find yourself struggling then ask a teacher, fellow student, or a tutor for help. It's simple advice, but few people ever take it.

#4 Posted by Jay_Ray (1134 posts) -

“Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.”

Read by Will Smith, written by Gary Whitta

#5 Posted by Casey25 (141 posts) -

I found that getting a coaching lesson for the SAT raised my score a ton (about 6 years ago, when i was in high school). You might also consider taking the ACT instead, if it seems like you would be more successful with that one. They are both slightly different in content.

#6 Edited by CatMeat (46 posts) -

I graduated HS in 1996 and just started going to college this past fall. It was terrifying the first day back, but I've found the experience completely rewarding. Being 36, working a full-time job, and going to school full-time can be exhausting. Somehow I managed to get a 3.833 gpa the first semester, and if I can do that, anyone can.

Also, in regards to math, I took a remedial class the first semester and it was a great refresher for everything I forgot over the past years.

Good luck, and don't give up.

#7 Posted by TheHT (11829 posts) -

Duder, that's awesome!

#8 Posted by SgtSphynx (1572 posts) -

Yeah, I'm sure I'll do ok, it's just seeing how much my skills have deteriorated was kinda shocking, now I'm looking into SAT prep courses. It's funny, in high school I never had to study for tests and always got A's on them, I'm not used to this.

#9 Posted by pyromagnestir (4339 posts) -

I went back last spring, I graduated high school in 05. The first math quiz I took was a "hey this is stuff you probably should remember and if you don't maybe take a refresher course" type quiz and I remembered none of it. Ended up doing okay, though. I was always decent at math, and unless you're gonna dive right into some truly advanced math courses you should be okay. The hardest part of Calculus for me ended up being the simplification. That shit was always annoying. And those early college classes seemed designed in such a way that if you don't royally fuck up you'll end up doing fine. They don't seem to want to fail anyone.

The biggest differences I've noticed since going back are:

  1. most homework is online homework now
  2. there aren't clocks on the walls anymore, I just found that funny. I remember staring at the clock a lot in class when I was younger.
#10 Posted by RVonE (4703 posts) -

I received my high school diploma in May of 2001. Returning to school after all these years, I feel more fear and nervousness than I ever have. I don’t know why I am more afraid of walking on the campus than when I deployed to Iraq, or when I heard the news about 9/11 knowing that my mother was in DC at the Pentagon at the time. I think maybe it is fear of failure, which might be my greatest fear. Or perhaps it is fear of not being accepted by the university I wish to attend, then again maybe I am getting ahead of myself and it is a combination of these fears including that I have to take the SAT, a test I never took before since I joined the Marine Corps straight out of high school. I really wish I had taken it when I was still in high school now.

Math, a subject that I grasped with ease and considered my strong suit all those years ago, I found lacking on taking the practice test. I found my skills lacking to the extent that I fear that even with a month to go until the test, I may not be able to bring them back up to where they were. Thirteen years can do a number on your proficiencies when not used, most anything beyond basic algebra seems like gibberish to me now.

On the other hand, English, a subject I would have considered one of my less than stellar skills, seems to have improved in the intervening years; other than my tendency to write in a conversational way and use comma splices. Maybe those skills just haven't deteriorated as much.

I guess there is really nothing I can do but study hard and try not to let my perfectionist tendencies take control.

From the perspective of a lecturer at a European university, allow me to just say this: use the wisdom you've gained in the past thirteen years and bring the mature attitude that comes with it into the class room. Do the work, prepare what you need to prepare, and tackle problems as they come instead of dreaming-up problems that aren't yet a reality. Don't measure yourself against others--at least not too much--and strive to be the best student you can be. Other than that, allow yourself to enjoy campus life; it can bring a lot of worthwhile experiences, just don't lose your head. Don't lose sight of the reasons why you're going back to school. It's a good decision and I applaud you for it.

#11 Posted by PSNgamesun (414 posts) -

Idk how any other way to put this, but dude that's fucking awesome. Seriously, goodluck.

#12 Edited by bau (13 posts) -

Im in a similar situation, haven't been to school for over ten years now and decided to get a couple of grades and my plan is to try to get in to a university in the fall 2015..

I never liked school and was never there and that really shows on my horrible grades, but now after ten years working i really look forward to go back to school and hopefully one day get an education to be proud of.

#13 Posted by Usernameandemail (123 posts) -

Similar story. About 5 or 6 years between school and university. The first year was the hardest as many of the students took for granted what I had forgotten in those years: maths. I ended up catching up and found that being a bit older you tend to want to get a lot more out of the course and your there for good reasons.

Worked out anyway, I'm now a qualified and practicing civil engineer working in a pretty interesting area.

Have fun and good luck!

#14 Posted by Corevi (5096 posts) -

Hiring a tutor seems like a good idea.

#16 Posted by falserelic (5407 posts) -

Trust me, you can't be as much as a failure then I am. Aleast your trying the best you can do to improve your life, and your in a position where you can afford to go to college. Just go with the flow and see where life takes you next.

#17 Posted by SgtSphynx (1572 posts) -

Thanks for all the words of encouragement, duders.

#18 Posted by ViciousBearMauling (1254 posts) -

Math is a weird skill to get a grasp of again. It will all seem impossible until something hits you in just the right way, making everything fall into place naturally, so just keep practicing, it will come back to you!

SAT's are always built up as some terrifying demon, but they aren't that awful. Stressing will do no good for your brain.

English tends to stick with people. Speaking the language and typing on the internet probably has something to do with it. Your writing skills can always improve through practice though! Write some random blogs on crap you like! It'll sharpen your skills, and it'll be easier writing about things you like than something you don't care about (Like most class assignments).

#19 Posted by Nux (2428 posts) -

I was once in your shoes, well the fear of collage part. I remember spending every single day of my first year being afraid of the school. I was constantly surrounded by people I didn't know and my professors were expecting way more of me then my high school teachers ever did. It felt like I was drowning. But little by little I found that the pressure and the tenseness was fading. I slowly (and I mean very slowly) started to feel comfortable at my new school and before I knew it I found myself in my final semester with the end in sight.

If you find that you are having a hard time with the subjects you were once proficient in you could always hire a tutor like some people have suggested or you could go to your campus' academic learning center and get help there. I believe most if not all schools have one and they are always willing to help no matter what.

I just graduated two days ago and believe me when I say that it is the greatest feeling in the world to stand up on that stage and receive your diploma knowing all your hard work has finally paid off. Just stick with it duder and I promise you it will all be worth it.

#20 Edited by believer258 (12211 posts) -

@pyromagnestir said:

I went back last spring, I graduated high school in 05. The first math quiz I took was a "hey this is stuff you probably should remember and if you don't maybe take a refresher course" type quiz and I remembered none of it. Ended up doing okay, though. I was always decent at math, and unless you're gonna dive right into some truly advanced math courses you should be okay. The hardest part of Calculus for me ended up being the simplification. That shit was always annoying. And those early college classes seemed designed in such a way that if you don't royally fuck up you'll end up doing fine. They don't seem to want to fail anyone.

The biggest differences I've noticed since going back are:

  1. most homework is online homework now
  2. there aren't clocks on the walls anymore, I just found that funny. I remember staring at the clock a lot in class when I was younger.

I got used to looking at the time on my phone in high school. There were usually clocks on the wall, but nobody bothered to keep them set properly so the few teachers that did use them to keep track of time were usually off.

As for me, I just finished my last exam of college yesterday. I cannot imagine going back to any sort of classroom anytime soon. I am done with it. Looking back, I actually wish I would have waited a few years and grew as a person. I feel like if I were just entering college now instead of just leaving it, I might have been better prepared and might have done better. As it stands, I've done all right. I just hope I can find a job.

Also, don't feel bad about the math. I'm willing to bet that most people going back to school after a few years don't remember the math all that well.

EDIT: Also, the advice that @viciousbearmauling just gave you about writing regularly seems good. You'll no doubt have to pen some essays soon, so getting some critical thinking and writing practice is a good idea. Blog about what you do and don't like about the games you've been playing. It doesn't have to be long or formal, but it will help get your mind into a good essay-writing state. It must be said, of course, that blogging about video games is no substitute for the mental exercise that is a good college essay, I'm just saying, it will probably soften the blow of having to write essays again.

#21 Posted by MB (13146 posts) -

@sgtsphynx: Fuck disadvantages! Just think of all the advantages you have over all those 19 year old twits. You have done and seen things that most of them will never even read about in books. You've made your mistakes and learned from them, you know what it takes to see something through and finish it, know what having a real job in the real world is like and all the experience and knowledge that comes along with that. You've been in relationships other than with your high school sweetheart, and now little things like a breakup aren't going to destroy your world. All these allegedly younger, smarter, or better looking people should be worried about you, not the other way around!

Source: back in school for my second degree and a career change at 34 years old. It is awesome. Don't worry, I had some of the same concerns when I started going back to school late last year. You'll get over it. Now get out there and kick some ass, it's going to be easy for you. Watch.

Moderator Online
#22 Posted by McBEEF (360 posts) -

In my experience success in education is more about the work and effort you put in rather than any kind of natural intelligence, which I'm sure you can handle.

Just use the resources avaialable (tutors, teachers, online aids) and treat study like a job, and you will excel. Try not to slide into that 'lol I had to stay up all night to finish this' or 'this is due tommorow, better get started haha' bullshit and you'll do great.

#23 Edited by Korolev (1729 posts) -

Oh yeah, that math stuff disappears quickly. I took Math C in High School, the advanced maths course in Australia - Calculus, Vectors, Geometric Sequences - I was pretty good at it. Now, 10 years after High School, I can remember none of it. All I have left is basic algebra, because that's all I need in my current studies. Knowledge disappears so damn fast if you don't use it. I can barely remember much of my first degree.

It's always scary going back to school, especially when you think you're done with it. But you are doing the right thing - knowledge is always good for you. You are broadening your career options and yourself as a person. Honestly, I wish you the best of luck. I've been studying as soon as I got out of Highschool - and I'm still studying 10 years later. I had two failed careers that didn't go anywhere - I failed as a biotechnologist and I couldn't find a job as a molecular biologist. Now, I'm doing medicine, and luckily I have a contract with my Federal Government that guarantees me a job as a doctor after I leave (although I have to work where they want me to work for a minimum of 4 years). I can tell you, it was very disheartening to have to resume studying once I finished my Masters degree. I always had a dream of being a scientist (still do!), and I find that science is overwhelmingly my passion, but I couldn't get a job and I had to go back to study for 4 more bloody years. I have 1 and a half years to go, and I can't wait to be done with it (although being a doctor here in Australia means you'll be taking tests to measure your skills for the rest of your working career).

It can seem daunting. Going back to learn can make you feel like a failure - I mean, we got the idea that we were supposed to be "done" with this by now. I'm going to be nearly 30 after I graduate (for the third bloody time). Even though people say I'm doing the right thing by studying medicine, I can't help but look back at my life, the 10 years I've spent studying and looking for work and think "what the hell was I doing?". But I try to put that behind me - because I'm on a path now, with a goal in sight.

Best of luck to you - don't be afraid of the time it will take, don't be afraid of going slow - there's a chinese proverb I like: "Don't be afraid of moving slowly, be afraid only of standing still". And you, my friend, are not standing still.

#24 Posted by Dixavd (1380 posts) -

Go get 'em boss!

#25 Posted by Aetheldod (3737 posts) -

Good luck duder :D may you have a great time st school .... it is never late to start things!!!!

#26 Posted by stryker1121 (1591 posts) -

@sgtsphynx: Good luck to you, man! IYou're going to have a huge leg-up due to your life experiences. there's no worse fear than anticipation of something bad happening-- you'll be fine.

Do you have an idea of what you'll be studying?

#27 Posted by SgtSphynx (1572 posts) -

@stryker1121: I'm gonna go for Mechanical Engineering as my major

#28 Posted by Whamola (131 posts) -

Are you sure you have to take the SAT? I took several years off after high school, and when I applied to college, none of them required it if it had been a certain number of years since you graduated high school.

#29 Posted by SgtSphynx (1572 posts) -

@whamola: As far as I can tell, according to UNF any applicant that has less than 60 credit hours must submit SAT or ACT test scores. Since I have neither, I'm taking the SAT. If it turns out I didn't need to take it, I will not feel that it was a waste of time, because in studying for it, I am regaining my skills in math.