Where a student of 25e begins to feel old, the other begins to study again after retirement. How do you feel about re-entering the university at a later age? You can learn from (re) studying.
A Whole Life of Study: For some students, it sounds like their worst nightmare, while others feel blessed to be able to return to teaching later in life. Dick (Master Philosophy, 72), Monique (Master Anthropology and development studies, 53), Irene (two-year pedagogical master in Dutch, 49) and Jeroen (one-year pedagogical master in business economics, 45) are examples of this. After a long study break, they all decided to enroll in a university degree at Radboud University.
Now that the sun is shining and motivation is starting to wane, many students will wonder why on earth you want to study again. Jeroen explains: ‘I have been an entrepreneur for over twenty years and I moved this business last year. Then I started thinking about what I would do next. ‘ He had the feeling that he wanted to contribute to society. That motivation also played a role in Monique. ‘I was socially engaged and wanted to understand the world better.’
In Irene and Dick’s, the motivation stemmed from an earlier desire. Irene has previously studied Italian and art history, but she was unable to pursue a degree in Dutch. Thanks to the corona period, her work as a video producer stalled and her children no longer needed her that much. ‘All signals were now green,’ explains Irene. It was finally time for Dick to start studying again. ‘I once did a part-time study in Andragology, but I also had a job and a family. So I decided to start studying again as soon as I had more time. ‘
Also students only
Despite their age, Dick, Monique, Irene and Jeroen just feel like students. Almost all conversations start with the following announcement: ‘Just say “you”, we are fellow students.’ They all experience the mutual contact as very pleasant. ‘I have only had positive experiences with my fellow students,’ says Monique enthusiastically. She is pursuing a master’s degree, but she started her bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Developmental Sociology in 2017. ‘At the time, I was quite hesitant to sit among the eighteen-year-old students again,’ she admits with a laugh.
Yet there is some distance between them and their fellow students. ‘Some students are my children’s age,’ says Irene. However, she does not feel that it stands in the way of contact. Jeroen: ‘I do not know if it is a generation gap, but I think more, it is a difference of experience. Sometimes I worry about things the other students are thinking: don’t be so hard. ‘ He also notes that the young students are much more enthusiastic about their field. “In a work environment, you simply have many more responsibilities, such as children, a house or elderly parents. It can sometimes come at the expense of your passion for your profession. ‘
The lives of these students are obviously very different from those of their younger fellow students. “Of course I do not go into the pub as much, but I participate as much as possible for the rest,” says Monique. Therefore, she was also a member of the study association during the bachelor’s program. ‘It’s easier on the master, it’s a little less student-like. When you are eighteen, you are busy with completely different things. ‘ There are also stories of wild weekends. Dick says, ‘If it’s between each other, I’ll eat a sandwich and just listen.’ Students are therefore more likely to take other topics up against themselves. “They do not feel the need to tell you what they have done,” he says jokingly.
These four students therefore do not lead a standard student life. Monique says, for example, that she is pursuing a full-time education, but also has a family and a company at the start of her studies. ‘When I was twenty, for example, I did not have to keep accounts,’ she laughs. “If there’s something wrong with my family, it always comes first.” On the other hand, according to Irene, it also makes student life easier. ‘I’ve already made a lot of complicated decisions. That way, I will no longer have to think about buying a house and whether I would like to have children with this partner ‘, she says. “Those decisions are already behind me.”
They certainly do not bother to study. ‘I now have a much broader frame of reference than when I was younger,’ says Monique. “Therefore, I can easily relate everything I read and hear to the knowledge I already have.” Irene also sees that it is actually easier for her to study. ‘In my work I have gained all sorts of experiences that I can apply to my study.’ Still, there were some doubts: ‘I thought in advance: as long as it goes well. Of course, I had not taken an exam in 25 years. ‘ There’s one aspect that Dick has a bit of a hard time with: ‘It’s less easy for me to learn something these days that I do not quite understand what it is.’ While his fellow students just take the information for granted and memorize it for the exam, it’s different with Dick: ‘I want to know what’s going on and then go and find out completely.’
Despite their different ages and studies, what the four students have in common is their love of their education. Jeroen explains with great enthusiasm: ‘This academic year is truly a privilege and an enrichment in every respect. I can definitely recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity and wants this. ‘ Irene is also very excited to study: ‘I think it’s amazing and I’m enjoying it immensely.’
So there is no lack of enthusiasm, but what do students need with their education? Irene would like to start immediately after graduating: ‘Fortunately, there is a great demand for 1st Dutch teachers, so I reckon I can get a job soon.’ Jeroen will also be in front of the class next school year. ‘I’ll probably be teaching two days a week from September, and then we’ll see if it rises.’ He is very much looking forward to combining his entrepreneurial experience with teaching.
Monique started her education primarily out of interest. ‘It was not necessarily my intention to make it my job, because I also ran a shop in Nijmegen.’ In the end, she chose to stop her business and focus entirely on her studies. “Of course it was a risk,” she admits. However, it went well: ‘At the moment I am an intern in an organization and I am discussing a follow-up with them. So I actually have to work as an anthropologist ‘.
This is different for Dick, who is already retired. ‘I would love to write another article on my thesis,’ he says. There are no ambitions to start working as a paid philosopher. ‘There are also other things that I find important, such as my volunteer work. But if I can use my acquired knowledge there, then of course I do. ‘ Dick would like to continue studying, but in the form of courses instead of a new college degree. ‘As long as I’m busy,’ he concludes with a laugh.