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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

The re-entry back to college

Re-entry students Autumn Brock, Junior, Social Work and Rose Turner, Junior, Art History along side Professor of Art History, Asa Mittman. Photo credit: Nicole Ritchie

Ask any re-entry student what the biggest challenge that comes with being a returning student and almost the answer will always be fitting in.

Returning students are older than everyone else. That’s usually how it goes.

“After an exam, I asked another student if she wanted to grab a drink and celebrate. After a brief look of confusion she reminded me she was only 18,” laughs Cara Demarco, a returning junior majoring in Sociology. “It’s easy to forget a lot of the people here are younger than me.”

Technology, which has evolved at a rampant pace, can be an area where the person who has been away from campus may struggle in the beginning to relate. This isn’t to suggest that a person who has been away from school doesn’t keep up with the changes.

However, in an effort to prioritize and balance life outside of college a person may not keep up with the trends as diligently as a student whose grades and future career depend on being adept in the latest and greatest.

“I worry about asking questions that might age me,” shared Autumn Brock, a junior majoring in Social Work. Brock is referring to various concepts that are treated as if they always existed.

Ultimately, the goal of any re-entry student is to complete their education just like any other student. The difference is that having taken time off in the middle generally helps the returning student clarify their path so that they return eager to finish as quickly as possible and with the greatest takeaway.

In this context, fitting in is all about getting familiar and comfortable with using the many programs on campus that have been put in place to help facilitate a successful college experience.

Herself a re-entry student, Ana Flores, who is an Academic Adviser at Chico State, shared her story recently at a Welcome Reception for returning students. Flores encouraged seeking out the various programs on campus and asking, “What can you do for me as a re-entry student?” Flores emphasized the importance of meeting with an academic advisor early on to make sure a student is on track.

For what it’s worth, freshmen face similar challenges their first year in college. The difference is that no one seems surprised by the overwhelmed and lost new kid on campus.

Quite the opposite, in anticipation of the freshmen showing up, numerous programs and activities are offered to help with the transition. Other students and faculty seem to seek them out and go out of their way to help them establish their footing.

The re-entry student, on the other hand, is coming in with a few years of college and a lot of life already under their belt. They left a situation that was at least familiar to jump into one that isn’t. It might not be apparent to others how truly out of place they feel. It takes humility to admit that and it takes courage to ask for help.

However, the upside, with a little bit of effort, can be a great college experience. Everyone has a place. It just takes a little finding it.

Nicole Richie can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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