As an "older" student, myself, I understand exactly what Matthies is saying with regard to having different goals than most of our classmates (and thus requiring different strategies for getting the employment we desire than most of our classmates). The older students I know have come into law school with very specific financial goals (that are realistic - not just "BigLaw or bust"), specific goals in terms of the area of law they wish to practice in (derived from their past job or life experience), and they have researched heavily what it takes to get to where they want to go. The whole OCI/journal/moot court/top 5% package isn't the only way to get them there (and may not actually get them there at all.) For us, not any old job will do.
If you don't get it, you will when you're older.
Admittedly, I joined this thread late and am not even in LS yet, but I just wanted to comment on this...
I am 25, and not what I would call an older student by any means, but I have the same outlook as you. I don't think age is a huge factor when it comes to what people want out of LS. Unless it IS purely financial. Otherwise, it seems to me that even older students go to LS for instinctive or lofty reasons that really have little to do with where they will end up working and a lot more to do with fulfilling a goal, dream, advancing current careers, etc. I mean, you must admit, if you were top 5% and on Law Review, it would be pretty hard not to accept a nice job in "Big Law," given the salary. I will admit, the work load is daunting, but as I have seen posted here before, it seems that you face a large work load in most areas of law practice.
As for me, I will take it in stride when school begins, but IF I do end up in the top 5-10% (like everyone thinks they will ), then i might have to look at some big firms, just for the h*ll of it. As a new mom, I think that is very unlikely for me, but you never know. I know that as much as my heart leads the way, my pocket book pays for the ride!