Friend Fatima: Non-Traditional

Q: As a non-traditional student, I often have trouble engaging with other students. I am older than most of the people in my classes, which makes it more difficult to connect with them on a social level. I want to be involved on campus, but I just feel like I won’t have anything in common with anyone because I’m much older. How can I change this?

A: There are many ways you can get involved on campus, regardless of your age. The lovely thing about Washburn is that it is small enough to be a close-knit, family campus while still having a variety of activities to be a part of. 

The first organization I would suggest looking into would be the Washburn Non-Trads group. This is a great way to meet people if you are too nervous or worried about connecting with a younger demographic. The Washburn Non-Trads group is a non-traditional student organization. Their Facebook is Though it is almost the end of the year, they will still be having activities over the semester you can be a part of.  

Other than that, I think you should be a part of any organization or club that interests you. Age should not be a factor when it comes to taking part in something you enjoy. Just because you are older than some people does not make you less of a person. It should make you feel great that you are even attending school when most people don’t even give it a try or never go back to finish. It’s not something that should hold you back; it’s something you should embrace. 

You have life experience and knowledge that most of us “young” individuals can’t even imagine yet. We should be listening and befriending people like you who, despite age, want to be a part of this campus and help it grow. I personally have enjoyed most of the non-traditional students in my classes. They bring life and personality to our class discussions.

I remember one of my classes I absolutely enjoyed because of the conversations I would have with an older man. He was so nice and we had great conversations about culture and life, which is something I can’t talk about with most people my age. Maybe someone in one of your classes is just waiting to have an amazing conversation with you. Don’t ever be afraid to talk to people because you feel different. We are humans and are naturally scared of rejection.

We just have to keep telling ourselves that the best thing we can do is try. Try talking to people in your class and if you are “rejected”, oh well. You probably don’t want to have a conversation with someone who is closed-minded anyway. The important thing to remember is to try again because eventually you’ll feel like you want to do anything on campus and you will completely forget how old you are. 

Overall, I have found that Washburn is a pretty open-minded campus. You just have to get out there and show people who you are. It’s really not your age that is holding you back; it is your over-thinking and your fear. Once you get over that, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for. All you have to do is let go and put yourself out there.