I'm 37 and I've been back in school for over a year now, having failed out the first time around because, uh, let's just say I am a late-bloomer in terms of emotional maturity. One thing that I would like to share with anyone that is considering going back to school and is concerned about their age: the younger students really didn't care how old I am, which was an extremely pleasant surprise. No, really, they just don't care about it whatsoever. They aren't sitting there looking at me wondering "why is this guy so old" or "is this guy a teacher". I had forgotten how wonderfully self-absorbed a 20-year-old typically is.
However, I have gotten "that look" from some of my instructors. It's the look that says "I'm annoyed with you" when they find out my age. One professor was really quite warm and talkative with me before class every session, until I mentioned that I am 37 (I look like I'm 25 tops), and then not so much as minimal eye contact during the lecture or a hello after that, as if I had some sort of disease. Also, I don't sit there and talk about how I am older than everyone all day long because I know that is extremely annoying, although I did make that mistake in the very first class I took, but I quickly learned from that mistake and now I only mention it when there is a generation-based topic of conversation. None the less, I truly don't feel that being 15 years older than everyone is something to be ashamed of, and I refuse to hide it.
I actually don't care very much at all what the teacher thinks of me, as long as they grade me fairly, and it seems like they have. My concern is whether or not this is an attitude will follow me throughout my career. Is it just me, or have other people experienced this? I haven't ruled out the possibility that its just me, and if that's the case maybe there's something I can work on. Or if this is something happens frequently to older students, then I would actually feel a lot better about it and just deal with it.
I have a working theory that some college instructors thoroughly enjoy teaching younger students because they are often more impressionable and that gives the instructor an ego boost. It's not so much that they hate the older student, its just that their ego isn't reinforced by them. What do you think?