I decided I was going back to college. I already have a Bachelors and a Masters so why would I want to do this? After all, I’m not that young any more. But here’s the thing. I have always wanted to be a writer. That was what I set out to do in the first place but I got diverted by well meaning friends who worried that I wouldn’t be able to support myself as a writer. Writers live in some cheap, run down loft and drink to excess, right?
So I did what I thought was the smart thing. I got a degree in counseling. And I was good at it. But it almost murdered my soul. They neglected to tell us in grad school was that there are crazy people out there that will try to hurt you even though they came to you for help. They forgot to tell us that if you are personable, people will refuse to pay their bill because they decided to see you more as some kind of friend they vent to once a week rather than their therapist. I had four different clients declare bankruptcy and leave high and dry for thousands. I had to write off a healthy five digits worth of debt. After one especially nasty stalker client that broke into my office, I quit. I just couldn’t do it any longer.
I didn’t do anything for a long time. Then, finally, after a lot of poking and prodding from my family, I decided to go back to school and do what I had wanted to do in the first place.
Filling out the application was a lark and getting accepted was a breeze. The problem was that the university wasn’t sure what to do with me. I already had two degrees and they weren’t sure how to classify me. They still aren’t sure. But I got enrolled.
My first class was this past May. A three week summer class in Post Colonial Literature. I was incredibly anxious… okay, terrified. All I could picture was a classroom full of eighteen year old children that had gone to school with my daughter. I was going to be that old person. I remember seeing older people in my classes back when I was first going to school. Everyone looked at them like they had three heads or like they were going to morph into something dreadful at any moment.
I was pleasantly surprised. I fit right in and even made some friends. Granted, this was an upper division class and the “kids” were in their early to mid twenties but still, I wasn’t the three headed oddity. I knew I had done well but there was also a subjective component to the class grading.
Then there was the final. I did a presentation on Beach of Falesa by Robert Louis Stevenson. I had to learn how to do a Powerpoint. Crap. My daughter helped me figure it out. They never had this stuff when I was first in school. Hell, I had used a typewriter the first time around. Ah, technology – bane and blessing.
But then the unthinkable happened… The cool fonts I used in my Powerpoint didn’t show up right. Instead of the wonderfully artistic fonts chosen specifically because of their ability to convey the feel of the South Seas, the fonts defaulted to something like Tahoma or maybe it was Helvetica. The slides looked dreadful. I got rattled. I didn’t present as smoothly as I had envisioned it in my head. I sweated the grade and the waiting for grades to be posted was well and truly dreadful. But I
got earned an A and no one had treated me like I had three heads or leprosy.
So here’s what I’ve got to say to those of you that are considering going back to college at 30, 40, 50 or even 60
Swallow those fears about being the oldest one in class. God knows, if I could do it, you can do it. We older students are what the university considers “non-traditional.” We are embraced and welcomed. I found that my professors appreciate the opinions of someone with life experience. It brings another level of depth and understanding to class discussions. We know things and think of things that the average college student, inexperienced in life, can not to see or consider.
We are there because we understand the value of education. We take the classes seriously and we do our best work because it means something more to us at our age. I’ve got a lot more to say about this last thing but I’m going to save it for another post.
Just remember, you are never too old to go back to college. If I can do it, you can too. I’d love to hear from anyone that has gone back to school. What was it like for you?
Just ignore this. It’s just a link for some of that technical code crap.