Why Older Students Have an Advantage in Law School

Posted by Laura Zuppo on Jan 15, 2016 10:44:56 AM

Some older students have expressed feeling intimidated by the thought of going to law school. We hear certain questions over and over.

Will I fit in?

Will it be strange going to school with younger students?

Some question whether they’ve been away from the classroom for too long to go back to the routines associated with higher education.

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Don’t let these concerns and questions prevent you from attending law school. I’m happy to tell you that non-traditional students have advantages that many younger students don’t. With age comes experience, and that experience can put you ahead of the game – especially when it comes to law school.

So what advantages do older students have? I spoke to Jounice L. Nealy-Brown, MBA; Candidate for Juris Doctor, May 2016; and Senior Associate Member, Stetson Law Review. She shared her perspective as a non-traditional student.

Older students have work and life experience to build on.  

“Work and life experiences provide a solid baseline for certain legal topics, so it’s easier to contextualize the law. For example, having a mortgage or car loan makes it easier to grasp the concepts of commercial transactions,” Jounice says. Younger students who have not yet gone through these life milestones will not only have to learn the concepts, but also struggle to understand nuances of law alongside it.

Older students engage with classmates and faculty with ease.

Jounice tells us that being a non-traditional student encourages her to engage with professors and classmates more purposefully. “Because my time is limited, I am extremely purposeful in my interactions and am motivated to maximize those interactions,” she says. Non-traditional students see every class, every meeting, and every experience as a chance to learn. Many older students avoid unnecessary multitasking (such as checking social media, which younger students might be distracted by).

Older students embrace work-life balance.

Because the decision to go back to school was not taken lightly, older students pay attention to the balance of life and work, and build their schedules specifically so that they can maximize time. “My perspective on balancing law school, work and life is healthier because it’s a necessity for success,” says Jounice.

Older students are well-connected.

Not only are you better connected through work and social circles, your age puts you more in line with the age of your professors, which can make it easier to make connections. Professors recognize that the priorities of a non-traditional student are to learn and grow professionally, without many of the distractions or uncertainty of a younger student.

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