Advice for a returning student

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In summary, the individual is seeking advice on how to make themselves a more desirable candidate for employers as they continue their education towards a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering. They are a returning student at the age of 26 and have about 3 1/2 to 4 years left before graduation. They are concerned about being competitive in the job market at the age of 30 with no applicable job experience, and being a stay-at-home dad for the past couple of years. They plan to take internships to gain experience and are wondering if it would be advised to continue on to a Master's degree. The individual shouldn't stress about their age as their life experience may contribute to their ability to focus and be a better student. They
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MEStudent
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Hello,

I am seeking advice as I continue my education towards a bacholers degree in Mechanical Engineering. I am a returning student at the "old" age of 26 and since my studies before returning to school were in communications, mostly only electives, humanities, and a few core credits are going towards my ME degree. So I have about 3 1/2 to 4 years left before graduation. It's that long, because as a returning student I haven't actively practiced mathematics for several years, so I am starting with college algebra and taking pre-calc, and pre-chem as well, which are not on the degree's course requirements. It adds time and money, but I want a solid foundation, not just a passing grade.

So, here's my concern and why I posted this here, rather than in the academic section. I am concerned about being 30 when I graduate and being competitive for a job with the younger candidates. I have no applicable job experience, just regular jobs, and in addition I have been a stay-at-home dad for the last couple years, and will probably continue to be for the next year or two. As I approach graduation I plan to take any internships I can to gain valuable experience. So my question is, what things can I do throughout my education, inside or outside of school to make myself a more desireable candidate to employers? And secondly, would it be advised in my situation to continue right through to a masters degree? I suppose some of these concerns may be premature. I'll admit to some of these concerns coming from my first semester back being older than most seniors! However, I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. Sorry for any errors, my toddler picked off half the keys on the keyboard! Thanks everybody!

-MEStudent
 
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  • #2
Honestly, I wouldn't stress about your age. If anything, you may find that you are one of the better students due to your 'life experience' contributing to a certain ability to focus.

I have lots of 'nontraditional' students in my class. Almost without exception, they are more diligent, more focused, and more eager simply because they *chose* to go back to school, rather than just go to school because they didn't have any better ideas.
 
  • #3


As a fellow scientist, I can understand your concerns about returning to school at a later age and the potential impact on your competitiveness in the job market. However, I want to assure you that your age and lack of previous job experience should not hinder your ability to secure a job in your field.

Firstly, I want to commend you for taking the time to build a strong foundation in your studies, even if it means taking additional courses and spending more time in school. This shows a dedication and commitment to your education that will be highly valued by potential employers. Additionally, pursuing internships and gaining practical experience during your studies will greatly enhance your resume and make you a more attractive candidate.

In terms of making yourself a more desirable candidate, I would suggest getting involved in extracurricular activities related to your field, such as joining engineering clubs or participating in research projects with professors. This will not only give you practical experience, but also demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm for the subject.

As for pursuing a master's degree, it ultimately depends on your career goals and the specific requirements of the jobs you are interested in. If a master's degree is necessary or highly valued in your desired field, then it may be worth considering. However, if you are able to gain relevant experience and skills through internships and other opportunities, a master's degree may not be necessary.

Lastly, I want to remind you that your age and life experiences can actually be an advantage in the job market. Your maturity, time management skills, and ability to juggle multiple responsibilities are all valuable qualities that employers look for in candidates. So don't let your age discourage you, and continue to work hard and pursue opportunities that will make you stand out in the job market. Best of luck to you in your studies and future career!
 

Related to Advice for a returning student

What are some tips for managing time as a returning student?

As a returning student, it is important to prioritize your time and create a schedule for yourself. Make a list of all your tasks and assignments, and set realistic deadlines for each one. Utilize time management tools such as calendars and to-do lists. It may also be helpful to eliminate distractions and find a quiet study space.

How can I balance work and school as a returning student?

Balancing work and school can be challenging, but it is possible. It is important to communicate with your employer about your schedule and any potential conflicts. You may also want to consider taking online or evening classes to accommodate your work schedule. Additionally, try to find a job that aligns with your academic interests to make the workload more manageable.

What resources are available for returning students?

Most universities have resources specifically for returning students, such as academic advising, career services, and counseling. These resources can help you navigate your academic journey and provide support for any challenges you may face. Additionally, reaching out to professors, classmates, and alumni can also be beneficial.

How can I stay motivated as a returning student?

Returning to school can be daunting, but it is important to remember your goals and why you chose to return. It can also be helpful to break down your long-term goals into smaller, achievable tasks. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small, and don't be too hard on yourself if you experience setbacks. Lastly, surround yourself with a supportive network of family and friends who can encourage and motivate you.

What are some strategies for adjusting to the academic environment as a returning student?

Returning to school after a break can be an adjustment, but there are ways to ease into the academic environment. Attend orientation or any other events for returning students to familiarize yourself with the campus and resources available. It may also be helpful to connect with other returning students or join a study group to build a support system. Don't be afraid to ask for help from professors or classmates if you need it.

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