EXTREMELY INTERESTING POSTS(!!), Ladies & Gents :)
I'm 22. I have already done a two year stint in community college (dual enrollment HS/CC) where I basically squeezed by in the easy-A classes, and dropped the ones that required more than 10 pages of reading per week and/or included anything other than multiple choice questions on tests.
After HS graduation, I went and got a job where I made a lot of money, did a lot of partying , and along those lines managed to smarten up enough to buy a house instead of shares in Anheuser-Busch :beer:. I got married, DH and I rented the house (upside down, of course - rent only covers the mortgage, not taxes and insurance), and moved six states away for school. Once I got here, I ended up losing said job, figured it was God's (or someone's) will and that I needed to focus 100% on school. Rest assured, since the state is no longer footing the tuition bill, my studies will be much more important to me!
Clearly, everyone's situation is going to be different. Prior work experience can give you an edge in interviews. Prior healthcare experience can give you an edge in clincials. Prior degrees can be beneficial, or for some (no offense meant to anyone here) they can simply be an item of nostalgia reminding one of a very expensive four years (a good friend of mine has a Religion degree from Smith (or one of those colleges) - she says it was the biggest waste of money ever, LOL).
Younger students face issues, depending on the situation, such as how to branch out from parents and try to differentiate themselves from other students, especially since they are (lets be honest here) in competition - and it the competitors vary quite a bit. Then you have older students who (as a PP mentioned) may have found their stable career and place of employment suddenly nonexistent (literally). There will be single students, and married students. There will be students with children and other responsibilities - and prereqs will weed out those who can't make it.
The young students - you guys have it pretty good - no major life stresses. My husband and I (again, 22 and 26 - still fairly young, I know) have a mortgage and house to deal with 1600 miles away, a property tax evaluation that shamelessly reminds us every year that our house isn't worth more than a pot to pee in. We also have credit cards, two vehicles (almost paid off, YAY!) financial constraints from both of us not working and being in school, and to top that all off, we have a marriage that we're keeping afloat. One thing that has helped us, I think, is that we do not want children until we are both done with school (quite a while as I plan on going to grad school).
Still - I think all of us have our place in pre-reqs and in NS - the young students, the older students (40s, 50s), the single moms and dads, the young married students. All of us face different hardships and I think in the end that the only competitive edge one student may have over another is their desire to become a . You have to want this. Sometimes we might :grn: but the important thing to remember is just :hhmth: if off, try to be your own :anpom: and in the end, you'll feel like :nmbrn: when you are standing on the stage at graduation :grad:.
I agree with pretty much EVERYONE's ideas on this, though. How often does that happen on these boards? (and sorry for all the smilies! i'm in a good mood!)