Non-Trads and younger friends
Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 1300. From the Hubble Site.
I made some friends in classes last semester, and the other semesters. One thing about making friends in college when you are a nontraditional student is, you don't live on campus. You usually have a family and are used to being more of a homebody. The younger students are still into what you used to be into, like gatherings, parties, staying up all night, etc. etc.
Truthfully, I felt like I wanted to make friends as a non-traditional student and sometimes I had to make myself approach people in order to have that happen. It's a different dynamic. Some younger students think you just want to impress the professors, when actually, all you want to do is do your best. You see how important the class is to you, and you simply put your all into it. Sometimes it no longer matters -- or you make it not matter -- if people think you are doing "too" well or trying "too" hard.
I think when a person gets older they don't care as much about negative things like what others think about what they do. When a person is younger, peer pressure is paramount. Now, speaking for myself and I think a few others, I feel this way: if people don't like me for who I am, I have learned that I can still exist (and live) on my own.
Still, people do need friends. People don't want to hang out with their mom or dad (I'm talking about the younger students here -- the ones in class with you) but I think some younger people look below the surface at the person instead of the age. That's why I made some friends at school.
A person has to have a thick skin, though. Most of an older person's classmates might not feel entirely comfortable until they really get to know him or her. It's definitely a learning curve - for you and for them.