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November 16, 2014


Confessions of a “Non-Traditional Student.”

by Gradmama2011

At the age of fifty, I declared that since half my life was over…the other half (arbitrarily estimated at fifty more years) would be…mine.   Really it was more of a threat than a promise, but when complaining that everyone but me had been allowed to pursue a college education, and by implication, a career.   “Everyone” being my children, and “pursue” meaning opportunity.  Their response:  “go for it, Mom.   Do it…”  Right.   Me and a bunch of eighteen-year-old kids.

So I drove off to the Community College, grabbed a course bulletin, and sat down in the cafeteria.   So far so good.   Hmmm…what to study.   Since I had no idea at this point if I would just take a couple of courses, or what.   First things first…. courses that would be interesting, add to my store of knowledge, and something that I could do without making a fool of myself.

Since I was already a newspaper writer, English seemed like a logical course of study.   Psychology was a no-brainer, pardon the pun.   I wanted courses that I would enjoy, learn from, and be able to use in some capacity later on.

Well, I took to school like a duck in water.   After the initial “oh no, not another senior student come to make my life miserable,” the professors put up with me and in fact treated me exactly as any other students.   Although a lot of them were eighteen, many were much older, and they all treated me [almost] as a peer.   I refrained from trying to hang out with them.   I didn’t tell the English profs that I had been a working writer, mainly because one of the reasons I wanted to take the course was to test my writing skills.   Psychology was just darn interesting.

By the end of the first school quarter I was hooked.   I loved school, much more than I had in high school…yes, MUCH more!   I signed up for English and Psychology courses the Winter quarter, and the Spring Quarter.   Summer session was tempting, and I got into position to attend classes as a full-time student the following September.

By this time it had occurred to me that I really wanted to pursue an Associates Degree in General Studies, which I completed in May of 1988.  I had taken great pains to make sure than my course work was on track in case I wanted to transfer credits, which I did…93 credits transferred to Cleveland State for September semester of 1988.

[…to be continued]

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6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Good for you. Your family must be proud.

    • Nov 19 2014

      Yes. That was the start of a long educational journey, which eventually rested just short of PhD. More on university life coming to my blog.

  2. Feb 8 2015

    So how is it being part of the collegiate community now? I went back to school also. College rocks! I ended up mentoring many students and took on a part-time job.

    • Feb 9 2015

      I think we non-traditional-students get mor out of it. The youngers want to get in, get out, take what courses they have to for their major and not bother with anything extras. That’s stereotypical, of course, but hey…I apologize. I think I’ll do an update on this post topic. 🙂

      • Feb 9 2015

        That is true for the most part. One thing I realize is that our population is growing. HR analysts can no longer say that older Americans do not want to learn or have the greatest difficulty in learning new skills or trade. On the contrary. Today’s active adult understands the paradigm and is locked in; if not for career than for just plain fun.

      • Feb 9 2015

        so true. So many of my students took any World Civ special topic courses they could find at a given time. The choices like, Latin America (mine), Middle East, Japan, etc….. many students would say they were taking “whatever is available at 2:30 on Tuesdays.” Then a lot of them absolutely were not happy campers because they resented the requirement. On evaluations I was often either the worst TA they ever had…or the best. They would go on a rant instead of rating the course on its merits.

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