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Take on older Physics Students

  1. Nov 18, 2009 #1
    Hi All,

    I was wondering, what has been your experiences / observations with older physics students (30 - somethings), either as peers or as a TA / Prof. What generally do they have an easier time with / harder time with / getting along with others in academia.

    I'll be returning to college in Sping and hoping to get some awareness on some things anyone has noticed as trends. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 18, 2009 #2

    1. You have a lot more motivation and understand WHY you're studying.
    2. You're generally more disciplined.
    3. You aren't scared to ask and/or debate until you're satisfied with the answer we're given.


    1. Years of abuse and inactivity has left your brain somewhat addled and you may have to study slightly harder than the youngsters.
  4. Nov 18, 2009 #3


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    They seem to have kids and are married meaning they have lives outside of school. It's strange and confusing at times. Outside of the fact that I've never seen an immature older student, I don't see a difference.

    ooo and after seeing what was previously posted, one thing is brought to my attention. It seems like older students sometimes have a real problem being taught by people who are younger than them. They think "hey, you're still 20-something" or maybe a bit older and think "why should I listen to you?". It's a pride issue. The fact is that even if someone is younger then you, if they're your instructor, they by all means know more than you and should be seen in a position of authority when it comes to the subject at hand.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2009
  5. Nov 18, 2009 #4
    I'll ditto this, being an 'older' student. I have no problem admitting that my professors are smarter than me. TA's on the other hand...oi...but it doesn't matter; when I have a question that I cannot answer on my own, I go to a Professor, not a TA.

    I am sure it varies from major to major.
  6. Nov 18, 2009 #5
    I think this connects well with my third point. You generally don't hold these academics in such awe as you might have when you were younger and have no issues with approaching them with a query as you realise they're your best choice and that they're ultimately only human :biggrin:
  7. Nov 18, 2009 #6


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    Oh boy, I can relate to that... Takes me three times as long to even figure out what pen to use.
  8. Nov 22, 2009 #7
    Hi, this is just what I have been looking for. I am currently attending University and have decided to explore a career in Astrophysics. I am just a little worried that my age might affect my chances of being successful. I haven't taken any related classes yet because I originally chose to major in Art. (I know, they're a world apart) I am going to be 39 in a week. Are you or do you know anyone who is of such an advanced age and deciding to go into a science career? I know that I will have to study a lot more than people younger than me. But when I did graduate would I be impaired by being so much older than all the other new graduates in the field?
  9. Nov 22, 2009 #8
    One of my classmate in my freshman/sophmore physics/math course was a 60 (or close) year old. He had studied business (or perhaps arts) back in 70s and came back to the same university as a math major. In those physics/math courses, he was older than all professors (ranging from 30 - 50 i would guess) but had no problem asking question.

    P.S. he asked TAs even more questions lol
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
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