Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Confessions of a 35 yr Old College Freshman

Classes have been going on now since August 27th and it has been a unique experience for me, a old man, amongst the throngs of freshthings and other upper class men. Needless to say I was quite nervous taking this plunge into self improvement at my age. If you ask my wife she would tell you this was well overdue for me and she would also mention this (read: my lack of a college education) has always been a sticking point in my life. I would self deprecate constantly about how stupid I was for not having one when compared to my wife (with two), friends (two of which have doctorates) and family members. This was a mark of failure and partially blinded me from all the successes I've had.

So after a very turbulent first half of the year I felt like I had nothing else to lose personally and submitted my application to a local four year college. I got accepted and began the journey. So far the work is hard but rewarding (which is something I haven't said in a long time about any work I've done). I've been keeping my grades up and have been surprising myself with how much I've been learning. Its also surprising that I'm enjoying it too. I'm there to learn. That desire must be forged in my personal history however. I look back at all the crap I've put up with with years of working retail and customer service; it just makes me want to do well here so I can strive to never do that stuff again. Years of utter suckage makes one appreciate an education more so (even with crushing student loans in my future). But I listen to the young students on campus and I don't get this from them. Some of the thoughts I'm interpreting is that this is just 13th grade. Its just another motion in school except with more partying and cheap beer. Some will get their act together and others will drop out and learn the hard way (like I did).

But that's not what I want to discuss in more depth at this time. What I've noticed is that I have nothing in common with 99.9% of the students on campus. I've been alive longer then they have. Hell I was driving a car before a good number of them were out of diapers. I was around when newspapers were still viable and easily obtainable, before the Internet, before DVD/Blu Ray. I remember Betamax for god's sake! So I listen to some of the conversations that occur in the lounge when reading between classes and I just can't comprehend how some of their problems are problems at all; its not that I don't care but I just didn't grow up in the same era and can't relate. So it is difficult talking with them (the people in my classes....the freshman) because of slang terms used mean COMPLETELY different things now then when I was a kid (or didn't exist at all then). I am the old out of touch man.

The hilarious thing about it all is I *can* relate to my professors better than the other students. In a few instances I'm only a few years younger than they are so when they drop a reference to a movie that came out in the late 80's/early 90's that the kiddies don't understand and I'm the only one laughing....well it makes their day. In a way I've become the validation that they are not out of touch either and can no longer relate to their classes.I am trying to become known among my professors, especially within my field of study, but I'm not trying to be too 'friendly' with them as I don't want a personal issue to arise that might effect my academic performance. After that diploma is in my hands....well that can be a whole other story.

The last thing is that I'm feel I may be used as a mentor type role in the future. I say this only because of how old I am, how much more real life experience I actually have and can probably cut through the bullshit and help out to some capacity. That hasn't emerged yet but I have a feeling it may in my sophomore year.

Its a bizarre thing right now for me: I'm going to school because I want the education so if I'm alone it (supposedly) doesn't matter. I'm also quite lonely on campus too and wouldn't mind chatting with some new acquaintances here and there. After a half of semester of doing this I can say that I can accept my lot right now at school. I'm in the middle; too old to hang out with the students and I'm a student so I don't hang out with the folks my age....who are teaching me. Its tough, its going to take time but I will succeed. In the immortal words of Bon Scott "It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll!".