The Dropout’s Back In: Older Students Are Jumping Hurdles To Finish School

It was pretty easy to drop out of school.

I’d started working, and busied myself with other tasks until my schoolwork started to fall off. Getting back to school took a lot longer, but 20 years later, here I am.

I’m not the only one. Over half of SCC students are over 21 and I’m among the 26 percent that are over 30.  A solid 10 percent of SCC students are over 40.

There are plenty of challenges to going back to school, and finding the time between family and job commitments can be tricky. Luckily, SCC has checklists to take care of those challenges one by one. Getting my ducks in a row for financial aid was tricky, but I was able to get help both online and in-person. Talking to a real person was very helpful, since they really know what goes on the forms.

I’d always avoided my requirements, taking whichever arts and science classes I wanted. When I finally took English 101 this quarter at SCC and found myself in a group of teenage Running Start students, I realized just how long it’s been.

I have a job and a full load of classes. I don’t Snapchat, I’m busy. I’m married, with children. Heck, I get the reference “Married, With Children.” I’m old, and I don’t care that people know.

I’ll admit to trimming the gray so it doesn’t look like I have that much, but when a teacher asked if I wanted to say my age, I said “37,” not minding.

“That’s how old my Mom is!” one of the running start students said to laughs. But then she clarified,“No, she’s young.” Thanks, I think?

Many returning students do have children, and community colleges such as SCC offer childcare and education for infants up to 5-year-olds.

This is a common barrier for parents, particularly mothers, to go to school and get a job. I’m grateful this option exists. It will be nice to drop off and pick up right on campus and get to spend more time with my son.

On the other end, SCC offers Workforce Education targeted to those over 50, who may be retraining for fields that didn’t even exist when they were young. Who knows what technologies and fields we’ll have to go back to learn in a few decades?

Do you know someone who always insists they receive their senior discount? SCC offers a senior citizen tuition waiver for students 60 and over to take two classes a quarter, while only paying $5 a quarter plus any extra fees. That’s a much better senior discount than at Denny’s.

All of these services may explain why SCC has such a wide age range of students, and it provides for a diverse range of experiences to share with all students. Even though I’m older, I still feel excited learning new things, and I’m thrilled to be back in school.

– Forrest Baum