Returning learners are shaped at any age, said Andrea Crouch, academic counselor at St. Charles Community College. They also come in all stages of life, including those who want to re-tool their talents after a job loss.
“It could be an 18-year-old who dropped out of school at 16, but it also can be someone who is thinking about returning to school at age 67,” she said.
Crouch coordinates a free workshop to be held Oct. 4 to 6 at the college in Cottleville.
“We basically explain our processes, but oftentimes people who come have been thinking about returning to school for years. They could have dropped out at any level,” she said.
On the outside, those thinking about returning to school for a degree or to pick up where they left off or expand technical skills may seem similar, but have a completely different focus.
“Two ladies here last week were 60-ish with college degrees. One wanted to learn medical coding and the other wanted to do something with cooking. They see that as you get older, skills are crucial,” Crouch said.
She conducts the workshop several times a year with the help of Cindy Strodtman, math instructor and learning specialist, and Barbara Chandler, associate dean for academic and career enhancement center.
With prospective non-traditional students, they discuss goals, time management, learning styles and study skills to get started. They also guide them through ideas about the importance of a support system, the practical side of their computer skills and how to pay for an education.
Crouch said the idea of initial testing is formidable for most people away from school for many years. But all returning learners have at least one thing in common.
“They are all surprised to find out that they share anxiety, a lack of confidence about competing with younger people,” she said.
Their positive asset is that they are not a typical 18-year-old lacking world experience.
Returning learners are barely in the minority on college campuses. Crouch said at most colleges they number at least one-third of total students.
Workshop for Returning Learners
When: 8:45 a.m. to noon Monday to Wednesday, Oct. 4 to 6
Where: St. Charles Community College, 4601 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, Cottleville
Reservation required: (636) 922-8248, www.stchas.edu