“Survivor” is breaking this season’s contestants into two tribes – young versus old. During this week’s season premiere, it was the older team (called Espada and including contestants over 40) that got sent to tribal council in Nicaragua, sending 48-year-old Montana goat rancher Wendy away (through a graveyard, no less).

It struck me as the credits rolled that if you’re an adult student and going back to school, you may be feeling like there’s two tribes in your classes as well. While you may have been told that the younger students will respect you for your life experience and knowledge, you maybe can’t help but feel that the age gap divides you from your 20-something classmates.

But let’s think about how “Survivor” typically plays out. At one point, the tribes are going to merge. And at that point, usually the younger contestants realize they can learn from the older players because of their experience, maturity, and wisdom, and vice versa.

As host Jeff Probst told CBSNews.com: “You have young guys running around, young women running around, and they’re fit and they can do all these challenges. But can they think? And when you look at the older tribe, you see people who stop before they walk and say, ‘We should go this way.’”

In the meantime, here are some tips provided by the University College Community at Rutgers-New Brunswick for adult learners:

• Seek out organizations and honors societies with adult students participating

• Make time for special events geared toward nontraditional students

• Contribute to campus events, working alongside those younger than you, to make a difference on campus

• Participate in the classroom and in group discussions

The young versus old experiment that “Survivor” is doing also may give you some insight into how you can relate to younger classmates, too.

-Lori Johnston

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