Are your classmates really your peers?


From parking permits, to textbooks, to student organizations, the experience of FGCU students differs depending on how you experience campus life.
One of the major factors contributing to how we experience FGCU is age.
Because of the geographical location of FGCU, it is an attractive option for those of us who never had the “college experience.”
I am a 40-year-old senior English major. So, I have a pretty good idea what it means to have to try to fit in on a campus where most of my fellow students are at least 15 years younger than I am.
I hear most of my classmates talk about whether there are still books available in the bookstore. I always order mine from Amazon, not only because it’s cheaper but also because it’s more convenient.
Many of my classmates eat at least one meal on campus. They often buy meal plans to facilitate this. I do not have a meal plan and have never eaten a meal on campus.
I do not have a permanent parking decal for my vehicle. I have to get a temporary permit every one or two semesters.
One thing that is mostly the same is the classroom experience, I rarely have a problem fitting in. While I may not have my closest friends on campus, I know a few students by name. They treat me as just another student in class.
One major hurdle for the older student is getting connected to campus life outside of class.
Because I’m usually not on campus except for class, I don’t always get all the campus news.
Job, major and club fairs, for instance, often pass by those of us who leave campus after class.
So, I, and others like me, have to adapt.
We have to keep our eyes on bulletin boards.
We have to make sure we are alert when our instructors make announcements or invite student organizations to make presentations in class.
We have to check the few online resources available for announcements.
But, I also ask for your help.
Treat all of your classmates equally in class, but be aware that we older students are here.
If you’re involved in a school-sponsored event and it’s appropriate to announce it before or during class, do so.
Student organizations, if you’re open to participation by older students, make sure your events are well-advertised in many places around campus and online.
Professors, be mindful of “non-traditional” students, and if there’s an event you think your students would benefit from, take a couple of minutes to mention it in class.
This will go a long way to making us, “non-traditional” students, feel like a part of the FGCU family.
I am happy to be a student at FGCU, but students, am I your peer?
That depends on all of us.