View Full Version : Advice for a 46 year old guy attending community college for AAS degree?


Radio Hiker
08-08-16, 06:32 PM
Hey all,

For those of you who aren't familiar with my presence here on the forum, I currently work as a production manager for a building maintenance company. I sort of fell into this position. When I applied to the company I now work for, I was originally applying for a lower (non-supervisory) position. As it turned out, I found that I enjoy management and I feel a sense of fulfillment when I am able to solve a human or logistical challenge.

So, I am looking seriously at going back to school at the community college level and earning an AAS (Associate's in Applied Science) degree in Business Administration, probably with a specialization in Management. This is not a transfer degree, but rather what used to be commonly referred to as a "vocational degree".

I attempted community college once before, and I found that my biggest challenges were procrastination and getting too involved socially with other students. While the first challenge is definitely an ADD thing, the second is partly due to the fact that I went to a small town elementary and high school, and I was bullied and ostracized a lot. When I made my first attempt at community college, in my mid 20's, a whole new world opened up to me, socially speaking. It was too easy to lose focus on my main reason for being there--to earn a degree, and immerse myself in the social aspects of the situation. I ultimately dropped out, because of these two challenges, and because my mother became seriously ill and I was the only close relative who lived nearby who could care for her. I was also working a full-time janitorial job in the evenings.

So, what advice would you give me, so that I can maintain my focus? I have the mindset that this is just like a job--I am going to be there for one purpose only--to get the necessary education for my degree and to increase my skill set as a manager. However, I know myself well enough to know that when I'm in a fun social situation, it is going to be easy to do the "fun" thing, rather than the "right" thing (study). I am also working full time.

Thanks for any advice, tips, and tricks you might be able to share.

Little Missy
08-08-16, 06:55 PM
This is how I did it. All I did was school work. Period. It was worth it.

spamspambacon
08-08-16, 07:16 PM
'I'm 48 and in school for my AAS in Comp Sci-Networking
12 credits.
Full time.
(25 credits left to go!)

I remind myself how expensive each class is, and how I don't want to pay that again!

Also, when you go back to school as a full-fledged adult, it's different. The other adults are just as serious about getting thru school as you are. I won't say you don't go have pizza after class at 10pm, but "fun" is no longer the same distraction it was when you were younger.

Don't go full time. Take one class this semester. Use how well you handled that class to determine how many you can handle come springtime.

Radio Hiker
08-08-16, 07:26 PM
This is how I did it. All I did was school work. Period. It was worth it.

Right now that is the default mindset I am cultivating. I don't want to repeat my mistakes from twenty years ago.

Radio Hiker
08-08-16, 07:28 PM
'I'm 48 and in school for my AAS in Comp Sci-Networking
12 credits.
Full time.
(25 credits left to go!)

I remind myself how expensive each class is, and how I don't want to pay that again!

Also, when you go back to school as a full-fledged adult, it's different. The other adults are just as serious about getting thru school as you are. I won't say you don't go have pizza after class at 10pm, but "fun" is no longer the same distraction it was when you were younger.

Don't go full time. Take one class this semester. Use how well you handled that class to determine how many you can handle come springtime.

Yeah that makes sense. The 20-somethings probably won't want to have anything to do with an old fart 46 year-old, so maybe the challenge I had back when I tried it the first time won't be there. I can live with that!

namazu
08-08-16, 07:45 PM
May I ask what your motivation for getting this particular degree is? You mentioned increasing your management skill set. Anything else? (Degree required for professional advancement, strong interest in subject, burning desire to earn a college degree, etc.?)

Having a strong motivation -- whatever it is! -- as opposed to ending up in college just because that's what seemed to come after high school by default -- should be the first huge thing in your favor.

At this point, it sounds like you have a good job and a fair amount of professional experience in your area. You may want to do some advance reconnaissance to check that the AAS business admin curriculum will cover management topics you don't already know intimately from experience at work. If you're interested, and the material is novel, the chances of having a successful and enriching college experience increase; if you're bored out of your skull, not so much! (It's also possible that the topics won't be new to you, but will be covered in a way that gives you new perspective, and that's harder to feel out in advance. It can also be somewhat instructor/classmate-dependent.)

If a college degree is required for you to advance professionally (where credentials are required), you may want to ask around to figure out whether a terminal AAS will get you where you want to be, or whether it might be more useful to do a transfer-option AAS in order to keep the door open to a bachelor's at some point in the future (while still earning yourself an AAS degree).

If your current job is on a daytime schedule, this may also work in your favor, time-management-wise. Evening courses may tend to attract more working adults, so your classmates may also be more likely to have families and/or other time-consuming responsibilities. Also, a lot of students with ADHD (and without!) find the lack of daytime structure in college to be difficult to deal with because it's so easy to put off work (and then run out of time later). Since your days will be taken up with work, this may help somewhat with the structure -- it may be psychologically easier to realize when it's late in the day (as opposed to at noon, say) that there's not time to study, go to class, eat, sleep, AND socialize before the next workday.

Whether you use a smartphone or a giant calendar, entering assignment and exam dates as soon as you get the syllabus can be a big help. If there are interim deadlines -- need to start project, need to turn in plan, etc. -- get those down, too, to help prevent them from creeping up on you and to help structure your time on a larger (semester/term) scale.

I don't remember how recently you were diagnosed with ADHD, or how well treatment is working for you, but regardless, you may want to get in touch with the school's disability services office. Unlike at work, disclosing a disability at most U.S. colleges (especially public ones) tends to be fairly low-risk and potentially high-reward. You may be eligible for support services and/or accommodations that could make a big difference. Sometimes even just discussing your schedule and time-management challenges with a college counselor or disability office staff person can be a huge help.

Hmmm....that's all I have for now. Good luck!

Radio Hiker
08-08-16, 08:42 PM
May I ask what your motivation for getting this particular degree is? You mentioned increasing your management skill set. Anything else? (Degree required for professional advancement, strong interest in subject, burning desire to earn a college degree, etc.?)

Having a strong motivation -- whatever it is! -- as opposed to ending up in college just because that's what seemed to come after high school by default -- should be the first huge thing in your favor.

At this point, it sounds like you have a good job and a fair amount of professional experience in your area. You may want to do some advance reconnaissance to check that the AAS business admin curriculum will cover management topics you don't already know intimately from experience at work. If you're interested, and the material is novel, the chances of having a successful and enriching college experience increase; if you're bored out of your skull, not so much! (It's also possible that the topics won't be new to you, but will be covered in a way that gives you new perspective, and that's harder to feel out in advance. It can also be somewhat instructor/classmate-dependent.)

If a college degree is required for you to advance professionally (where credentials are required), you may want to ask around to figure out whether a terminal AAS will get you where you want to be, or whether it might be more useful to do a transfer-option AAS in order to keep the door open to a bachelor's at some point in the future (while still earning yourself an AAS degree).

If your current job is on a daytime schedule, this may also work in your favor, time-management-wise. Evening courses may tend to attract more working adults, so your classmates may also be more likely to have families and/or other time-consuming responsibilities. Also, a lot of students with ADHD (and without!) find the lack of daytime structure in college to be difficult to deal with because it's so easy to put off work (and then run out of time later). Since your days will be taken up with work, this may help somewhat with the structure -- it may be psychologically easier to realize when it's late in the day (as opposed to at noon, say) that there's not time to study, go to class, eat, sleep, AND socialize before the next workday.

Whether you use a smartphone or a giant calendar, entering assignment and exam dates as soon as you get the syllabus can be a big help. If there are interim deadlines -- need to start project, need to turn in plan, etc. -- get those down, too, to help prevent them from creeping up on you and to help structure your time on a larger (semester/term) scale.

I don't remember how recently you were diagnosed with ADHD, or how well treatment is working for you, but regardless, you may want to get in touch with the school's disability services office. Unlike at work, disclosing a disability at most U.S. colleges (especially public ones) tends to be fairly low-risk and potentially high-reward. You may be eligible for support services and/or accommodations that could make a big difference. Sometimes even just discussing your schedule and time-management challenges with a college counselor or disability office staff person can be a huge help.

Hmmm....that's all I have for now. Good luck!

My motivation is to increase my skill set so that I can be better at managing. Having the ability to say, "I have an Associate's degree in Business Administration" is also helpful.

Radio Hiker
08-08-16, 08:49 PM
May I ask what your motivation for getting this particular degree is? You mentioned increasing your management skill set. Anything else? (Degree required for professional advancement, strong interest in subject, burning desire to earn a college degree, etc.?)

Having a strong motivation -- whatever it is! -- as opposed to ending up in college just because that's what seemed to come after high school by default -- should be the first huge thing in your favor.

At this point, it sounds like you have a good job and a fair amount of professional experience in your area. You may want to do some advance reconnaissance to check that the AAS business admin curriculum will cover management topics you don't already know intimately from experience at work. If you're interested, and the material is novel, the chances of having a successful and enriching college experience increase; if you're bored out of your skull, not so much! (It's also possible that the topics won't be new to you, but will be covered in a way that gives you new perspective, and that's harder to feel out in advance. It can also be somewhat instructor/classmate-dependent.)

If a college degree is required for you to advance professionally (where credentials are required), you may want to ask around to figure out whether a terminal AAS will get you where you want to be, or whether it might be more useful to do a transfer-option AAS in order to keep the door open to a bachelor's at some point in the future (while still earning yourself an AAS degree).

If your current job is on a daytime schedule, this may also work in your favor, time-management-wise. Evening courses may tend to attract more working adults, so your classmates may also be more likely to have families and/or other time-consuming responsibilities. Also, a lot of students with ADHD (and without!) find the lack of daytime structure in college to be difficult to deal with because it's so easy to put off work (and then run out of time later). Since your days will be taken up with work, this may help somewhat with the structure -- it may be psychologically easier to realize when it's late in the day (as opposed to at noon, say) that there's not time to study, go to class, eat, sleep, AND socialize before the next workday.

Whether you use a smartphone or a giant calendar, entering assignment and exam dates as soon as you get the syllabus can be a big help. If there are interim deadlines -- need to start project, need to turn in plan, etc. -- get those down, too, to help prevent them from creeping up on you and to help structure your time on a larger (semester/term) scale.

I don't remember how recently you were diagnosed with ADHD, or how well treatment is working for you, but regardless, you may want to get in touch with the school's disability services office. Unlike at work, disclosing a disability at most U.S. colleges (especially public ones) tends to be fairly low-risk and potentially high-reward. You may be eligible for support services and/or accommodations that could make a big difference. Sometimes even just discussing your schedule and time-management challenges with a college counselor or disability office staff person can be a huge help.

Hmmm....that's all I have for now. Good luck!

My motivation is to increase my skill set so that I can be better at managing. Interestingly, I am good at managing other people and things, but I am less proficient at managing myself. Nice dichotomy, eh? Having the ability to say, "I have an Associate's degree in Business Administration" is also helpful.

Whether or not I still have this "good job" by the time I start classes, well that is uncertain (and a matter covered in another thread).

The reason I'm wanting to do this is that I think I have found my "calling" in the work world and want to improve my skills and education in that area, so that I can be the best I can be, as well as get the highest pay possible.

acdc01
08-08-16, 11:53 PM
I agree with Namazu. Make absolute sure having an AA degree will actually make a difference in whether you get a job in the area you want or not.

Perhaps the school you would attend has some statistics available on what type of jobs grads get (though wouldn't be surprised if they don't).

Call some people in the industries you are interested in performing management work that do the work you want to be doing and ask them what it takes to get a job like theirs. And ask them about the job in general to see if you'd like it and to schmooze so you can make connections.

I'll have to say, college got me the piece of paper (degree) I needed to qualify for my job. But nothing I learned in college actually helped improve my management skill set at all even though I did take some management classes. I would be very surprised if an AA degree is the best bang for buck when it comes to improving your skill sets. What I found most helpful were seminar and certifications. Like there's all different types of management certifications that are specifically for one given industry. You can often get the company that hires you to pay for these types of classes/certifications so I'm not even sure if you need to get these classes/certs on your own. You should really do some research in my opinion.

acdc01
08-09-16, 12:06 AM
Deleted duplicate post.

Tetrahedra
08-14-16, 03:30 AM
Because community colleges have a wide variety of student types--from those bound to the top universities to those who have no idea what they're doing and have little aptitude--they offer many resources. Contact your counselor to find out what they offer for assistance for ADHD students. There will also be other resources available that aren't tailored directly to ADHD but are helpful still, such as study skills. And don't forget tutoring. Even if you are doing okay, going to see a tutor routinely will help cement ideas in your mind.