It is humbling to look around the room and realize that you are a decade older than most of your classmates. Being older is intimidating, but I have learned that my age offers a perspective that many of my classmates do not have. Below are some of the things I learned as a 30-something college student that apply to students of all ages.
1. Change is good.
Our generation is known for changing jobs — even careers — frequently. This may mean transitioning from hospitality to tech public relations, or it may mean wanting to return to school to obtain your MBA. Remember that it is never too late to learn, grow and change, and that it is okay to move on if something no longer makes you happy.
2. You are only here once, so take advantage of all of the opportunities you are given.
Whether it is attending a mixer with your local PRSA Chapter, a lecture on voter suppression or a Zumba class, take advantage of everything college has to offer. It is easy to focus on graduation and a future career, but the opportunities available in college will help you figure out who you are and what you want. Try something new because college is a time in your life unlike any other.
3. Get to know your teachers. The better they know you, the more likely they are to invest in your future.
Our PRSSA Chapter has one of the best Faculty Advisers we could ask for. Lori Baker-Schena is one of those teachers who loves to teach, is super encouraging and stays in touch with everyone. Whether you have a “Lori” or not, creating relationships with your professors may open doors for you in your career, connect you with a mentor or enhance your education. Stop by your professor’s office hours and ask questions, or just say hi — they will appreciate it.
4. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
It’s okay not to know exactly what you want to do when you are just graduating. Some people know exactly what area and company they want to work at, but some won’t. One of the reasons I decided to return to school for public relations is because it applies to nearly every field. As the old saying goes, find the thing that you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
5. It is never too late to get an education.
Whether you are 16 or 60, there is always something to learn. It is intimidating to return to school and put your life and career on hold, but it is worth every second if you grow and work toward your goals.
What advice do you give to other students? What is your unique perspective?
Emily Olson is the director of advocacy at the California State University, Northridge Chapter of PRSSA. Follow Emily @emilykateolson or on her LinkedIn.