Truth in Education (When You’re an “Old Fart” Like Me)
I recently decided that it was time for me to go back to school. It’s something I’ve meant to check off my bucket list, well, since I graduated from high school. Long list of reasons later, and I’m finally “cozy” in my first semester back. To keep this story short(er), I dabbled in college while I was a senior in high school, then six years later I took some courses, then six more years later, here we are. I’m considered a Freshman transfer student, even though technically, I am a sophomore. It’s an awesome title. (Not really) (But neither is sophomore) I’m on a huge public university campus, and if you’ve never been on an open campus, I highly recommend it. You will see stereotypical college kids. I promise. And it is exciting. We’ve got everything. Rich Mean Girls to artsy-fartsy anti-war/shower hippies youngsters. And literally, because the campus is oh-so diverse, everything in between.
Let’s talk expectation management for a moment. All of my friends that went back to school later in life had awesome to near-awesome experiences. I expected such. The resounding answer thus far is no. It’s not really all that awesome, and that’s the real point of this blathering.
1) The Age Gap.
I am too old to be “cool”, but I’m still “only” a student. Despite my cool life experiences and ability to actually relate to the majority of my professors, they can’t hang out with me on the weekend. And the “kids” don’t want to. (Note: I’d really prefer not to hang out with them either, for what it’s worth.) It’s like being in limbo. I am so, so thankful when I meet someone over the age of 30. “What? You just got out of prison and you’re starting your life over? You’ve got some serious drama? But you’re 35? Cool! Let’s be best friends and have lunch together! Every day! We have something in common!”
I hate group work for this reason. In one of my classes, we have a semester long project to work on. All of the folks in my group are under the age of 20, live on campus, and don’t own cars. I live 45 minutes away, have kids, a husband, two cats, and two mortgages. They procrastinate because they can; I am irritated because they do. I can’t. Procrastinate, that is. My world is near-perfectly balanced between a clean home, complete homework, and fed and clean kids. My world will fall apart and chaos will ensue. And then I will turn crazy. And you wouldn’t like me when I’m crazy. Nobody likes a crazy person. (Except for entertainment)
3) The Word “Like” (Used as a filler).
This is probably my biggest pet peeve. EVER. There was one morning that I forgot to start my coffeepot and hadn’t yet found the coffee stand on campus. I sat through class, irritated. I counted 101 “like”s before I got tired of counting. In peer-to-peer conversation, and in student-to-professor conversation. This? This is my personal hell. (And possibly why I should start adding Bailey’s to my a.m. coffee. I’m sure folks would like me better if I were a little more sedate. Maybe.)
I still hate math. And up until this point, I did not use anything other than basic math after I graduated high school. Adding and (mostly) subtracting from my bank account, counting the days until vacation, counting this or that… Yup. Nearly 13 years of adulthood, and not one quadratic equation. No geometry or algebra or “if p, then q” craziness. And now I’m in Quantitative Reasoning HELL. And I doubt that I will use any of this in my post-school life.
5) Spring Break.
Hold up, wait, WHUT? Yup. This year, MY spring break falls two weeks BEFORE my daughter’s does. That means, should we decide to go anywhere, my little Weapon of Mass D would either have to be pulled from school for a week (sounds fun), or I’d have to miss a week of class (sounds fun) (not really)(I’m paying an insane amount of money to learn stuff). Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen. Sorry kids, no Disney for you this year. Or probably next. Or the year after, just in case I mess up a semester and have to retake some classes. Just don’t hold your breath. Not unless the gods line up the planets, and let’s face it, that NEVER happens for yours truly.
Not everything is bad. I love learning, and I really have learned a few things:
1) You can wear a miniskirt in the middle of winter and not freeze your ass off. (As I have only observed, never experienced. Surely the world is not ready for my post-baby mom-thighs)
2) Knee high boots with no traction in the wintertime is a fashion failure. It’s like ice skating. With better looking skates. And it beats the hell out of merely walking across campus. Unless you fall. May or may not have happened, but I won’t tell.
3) You can be a dirt-poor student and still pay $4.50 for an organic coffee. Because you don’t have transportation to a 7-11. Or you’re too lazy to buy a coffeepot. Or ask your parents to buy one for you. Heaven forbid you make your own coffee, and bring it in (gasp!) the same coffee thermos, class after class. It’s not like underwear, y’all. Or that bright yellow sweater with holes in it that you insist on wearing, even though it looks like it was actually from the 80s, it’s that threadbare. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. I can rinse my coffee thermos out, and it’s really ok. It’s caffeine, that’s what I’m after, not looking cool and stylish while drinking coffee. One day these kids will get it.
4) Music you hear on the radio? Not cool (unless it is super, super old stuff you hear on the a.m. channels. Those still exist, right?) Music you hear in the middle of the campus that sounds like a female cat in heat and a drunk raccoon playing around in a trash can? Apparently, “totes awesome.” Do you know what that means? I don’t either.
At the end of the day, I am thrilled that I have the opportunity to go back to school, and one day make something (else) of myself. It’s good to stretch the brain and get out of the constrictive comfy zone. But anyhoo, it is time for me ta put in a straw and suck this stuff up, I’ve got a history paper to write.
This time around, I’m actually going to finish. God willin’ and the creek don’t rise.
– Sheika Djibouti