I'd like to start off by giving you a little background on myself and telling you how I felt about coming to UW Whitewater this past summer. As the fact that I am writing this letter to you undoubtedly would make obvious, I am older than most of the other students. I am in fact a happily married mom of four beautiful girls, from ages 3 to 12, and I work part time in addition to going to school full time. I had previously been earning my BA through the University of Maryland's online college, UMUC and transferred here this semester.
I had only ever been in class online interacting with mostly people my age or older, with families like mine and commitments like mine, so coming to an actual 'brick and mortar' school was a big change for me. I will admit that I was a little panicky about it. I was afraid that it would be hard to fit in UWW, that I wouldn't have anything in common with the younger students. And that my 'family life', being what is first and foremost in my mind, and my 'school life' would inevitably have an effect on one another, possible not in a way I would necessarily like. This was a real struggle for me, as it could possibly be for you.
Yet I am happy to report that my fears and anxieties were all for nothing! I love it here at UWW! I could not have been more wrong in my mind. I have yet to meet a single member of the UWW faculty that wouldn't go out of their way to help a student. Troy Moldenhauer, who works in the Admissions office as the Senior Student Service Coordinator, was the first to help me. He made me feel that transferring here was the right decision. And Lynn Smith, whom you may have already met, has also been a great help, even if you only need someone to talk to about your day. She's a great listener and has great advice, and if she can't help you, she will find the person who can. My professors have all been great people as well. I can only aspire to have the dedication that they all have. Never be afraid to ask for help or advice from any of the faculty here. They are here to make our experience the best it can be.
Not only have the faculty influenced my time here though. The other students I have met seem to be as focused and eager to learn as I am, and they don't even notice, or frankly have time to worry about, our differences in age. The fear that I wouldn't fit in was nothing but that. I have even made some friends who are traditional students, and I truly consider them friends. They are friendships that I hope continue even after college. Quite honestly, 99.9% of the students are really just here to do the same thing as you and I, and they have their own fears and anxieties to worry about; they aren't worried about me as well. And when I realized that, 'school life' became somewhat less stressful (of course, it never will be stress free... there's homework-right?).
There are so many wonderful resources on campus—the faculty, the library, the computer labs, the health center, to name a few. The greatest resource I have found on campus has been the Children's Center. If you have small children and are in need of childcare I recommend that you stop by and see the wonderful teachers and classrooms at the Children's Center at Roseman Hall. They have really been great with my youngest daughter and I am glad she is able to be a part of my college experience by being here with me at school. It's nice to know she is right there, only a building or two away. It helps connect my 'family life' and my 'school life' in a positive way. And I really hold the teachers there in the highest regard; they truly care about those little ones.
My choosing to transfer to UWW from UMUC turned my family life upside down. I went from going to school at home to actually going to school. This disrupted a lot of things. I am blessed though that everything seems to be going rather well all things considered. At home my family has been really supportive and understanding during my college career. My professors have also been very understanding of the fact that I have commitments most other students don't have. If I need to put my family first over school, my professors and I have always come up with a plan so that I stay on track. I don't let things interfere with getting my work done to the extent I am able. And when inevitable happens and my two 'lives' do start to interfere with one another, I feel I don't need to worry about it so much because I have so many people who want to see me succeed that they are willing to help me to make that happen.
So here's my advice to you, the new adult student here at UW Whitewater: Create a balance between home and school. If you have fears about fitting in like I did...don't; it's not worth the wasted stress. Take advantage of your resources - professors, student support faculty, other students, the library, and anything else you find along your journey - don't be afraid to ask for help. And don't overwhelm yourself with too much all at once; only take on what you know you can handle. Lastly, make the most out of this experience. If this is your first time in college (or even if not), it will be an experience you will never forget.
Good luck on your journey!