By: Michaela Shifley –
College is not just for the young 20-year- old. With the United States’ ever-increasing emphasis on the importance of having a college degree, universities across the country are seeing an all-time high of non-traditional student enrollment (typically meaning students over the age of 25), and Rocky Mountain College is no exception.
Although the average age of students on this campus is 20.87 years, the college enrolls a number of students who do not fit that traditional profile, including seniors Jeremiah Harris and Robin Kraft.
Harris, a business management major, tried the traditional route of attending college right after high school but “was obviously not prepared for what was required…the pressure to attend college directly after high school is great, [but] the task is unrealistic for some.”
Kraft, who is pursuing an art major and business minor, also identifies with the non-traditional route. “I felt the Lord calling me to start my own Christian greeting card business… I attended MSU-B about 11 years ago for nursing, and Rocky offered me a transfer scholarship.”
After taking time off to care for families and other interests, both Kraft and Harris decided that it was time to jump again into the hectic stu- dent lifestyle of higher education.
This decision did not come without some challenges. Harris points out that he has “encoun- tered [challenges with] age gaps and time between education. The youth of today have different values and ambitions than my generation. I have also forgotten areas of study from high school, and at times, I need to play catch-up.”
Kraft also agrees that there is a notable age difference between herself and her classmates. “I really feel old sometimes,” she says. “I call myself the ‘Old Lady at Rocky.’”
Though some difficulties come with being an older student, both agree that there have been advantages in not going to college right away. Kraft emphasizes that she now takes her education more seriously, and she knows that “this is exactly where God wants me, and that is a great feeling.” Harris adds that a “cooling off and maturing phase” was essential to his success as a university student.
When asked what advice they might give to someone who is struggling with the decision to start college later in life, both students had sugges- tions to offer.
“Do what you love!” said Kraft. “It made such a huge difference for me the second time around; I get to do what I love every day.”
Added Harris, “Just do it! Don’t doubt yourself. I did plenty of that when I was young-er, and all it did was hold me back from real- izing my true potential.
“The beginning of the process will seem slow,” he said. “You’ll be taking generals with 18-year-olds. Halfway in is where the satisfaction and path to self-actual- ization begins. Register- ing for classes in your senior year will uncover the light at the end of the tunnel, and you’ll realize that all that hard work and effort was worth it.”