I'm Going To College!

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Month: October, 2012

It’s All Relative, When It’s A Relative

Relatives can be the worst offenders of ageism.  After months of not returning my emails or phone calls, my sister called to ask me to make a Halloween costume for her kid.  I patiently explained (once more) that I have a heavy schedule this semester, Rachel’s busy schedule (which still includes me), and I get Ethan off to school in the morning, leaving precious little time for anything else.  This launched a barrage of laughter on her part.  Why would I go to college at my age?  Did I not get  a decent pension?  What did I need education for, it is not like I will ever have to get a job again?  Why can’t I just enjoy retirement like a normal person?  She informed me that everyone (in the family) was laughing at me, you know, ‘crazy Sharan’ who thinks she is a college student at 57 years old.  Then she proceeded to tell me how she was busier than me–because she has a job–and that she needed the costume for a party next week.

I go to college, at my age, because I did not have the opportunity to attend until now.  I was too overloaded with taking care of my children, working, paying the mortgage, and negotiating the unexpected road of life.  The dreams did not die with age.  I may not look like a traditional college student, but make no mistake, I am a college student.  I go to class, do homework, agonize over test scores, and study all the time.  My age has not stopped me from getting top grades, or keeping up with technology.  I go to college simply because I can.

A decent pension provides the means to pay the bills.  It does not give me anything to think about, nothing to learn or see in a different light.  I spent the first year of retirement sitting in front of the television, trying to convince myself that this was the life.  I felt isolated.  My life became mind-numbingly boring.  And I had a stroke.  And my ‘decent pension’ did nothing to help me recover.  However, the thought of going to college, even at my age, gave me the will to get better. I am grateful for the pension, it helps with college expenses.

I need an education because I have something to accomplish before my time is up.  I am not sure exactly what it is I need to do, but I am counting on college, and the process of higher education to enable me to figure it out.  I suppose, like most college students, I do not know what I want to be when I grow up.  I take my education seriously.  I had a professor who felt like my sister, that I was just wasting time, playing around by going to college.  When I asked for help on an assignment, he ignored me.  I heard through a very unreliable grapevine that he felt he should not have to waste his time on some “old bag” who wants to be young again.  I may well be an “old bag” in his opinion, but I certainly would not want to be young again.  It was hard enough to be young when I was young, why on Earth would I want to do it again?  It strikes me as odd that this particular professor felt that his time was wasted on me.  When college is focused on the job market, how effective is the education?  Any professor that feels the way he does about students over 55 years of age, should probably be teaching grade school, where there is an age limit for students.  But I noticed that my grades began falling in his class, and he adopted a dismissive attitude when I asked questions.  After paying the class fees, over $100 for the books, and completing all the assignments early, I withdrew from the class.  I cannot waste my time on a professor who does not take my education as seriously as I do.

I enjoy retirement in my own way, because apparently I am not normal.  I have no desire to sit in front of the television, relive my past youth, or have another stroke.  I will continue with my college education and make sure I learn as much as I can, because I have not read all the books in the library (like Rachel thinks), I do not know how to spell more words than spellcheck (like Ethan thinks), and I have so much more to accomplish.  I am 57 years old, but I have not outlived my usefulness.  My sisters can laugh at me all they want.  I have discovered ways to use social media to help students save time and get better grades that really work!  An article I wrote will soon be published in the top academic publication in this country. I am considering a more scientific study on my approach to practical uses of technology in college.

There is much I hope to do, and college is the first step.   My sister will have to figure out the costume for her kid on her own, I have an essay due and a test approaching.




Chaos, Homework, & Parties

Being organized will not make you popular with classmates that are not organized.  Indeed some make fun of me because I work ahead as much as possible, and have my homework done before the due date.  I don’t mind, those are the kids that never complete an assignment on time, or stay up late the night before to finish a paper.  I get better grades by working ahead, because it gives me time to do a good job on each assignment, I am not just throwing something together at the last minute.  But I am not going to lie, there are times when I just do not want to do homework.  I would much rather be shopping, baking, even doing nothing.  And those are the times, I sit down and force myself to concentrate, because I know that if I don’t do it now, I will have to pass up something that comes up at the last minute, something really fun.  I never want to be ‘that kid’–the one who says he can’t go to the movies, or a party, because he has homework to do.  So, I work ahead.

When you are surrounded by chaos, you defeat yourself before you even get started on homework.  For example; if your desk is covered in random mail, dirty dishes, pocket change, and a pair of pliers, it becomes necessary to clean it off before you can start.  So you go to throw away the old mail, uh oh, the trash needs to be taken out, take the dishes to the kitchen, uh oh, the sink is full of dirty dishes that need washed, pick up the pocket change, uh oh, better check the bank account, and where did the pliers come from?  An hour (or two) later, you still have not started what you intended to have finished by now.  Taking a few minutes to put things in their proper place at the moment, can save you the hours it can take to sort it all out and put away later.  Keeping your dorm room, apartment, or living space neat and tidy not only prevents chaos from taking over, it can save you time.  Time you can use to work ahead on your class assignments, and be able to attend every party that sounds like fun.

Chaos is not conducive to organization.  Almost everyone has a cell phone, and those cell phones have calendars.  Take each syllabus and set up reminder alerts on your phone for every assignment.  We pay a lot of money for cell phones, it is time to make them work for us.  If you do not have a cell phone, get a small calendar and carry it around.  It may not be able to alert you with  the new Skylit Drive tune, but you can see at a glance what is due and when.  Use any and all technology at your disposal to cut study and homework time in half.  Get your classmates together for email Study Buddies–six or eight people in a group means you only have to do one or two review sheets for tests.  Twitter groups can get you an answer in real time–compete with pictures of graphs or charts.  Text groups can give you yet another way to be reminded of assignments, quizzes, or tests.  Technology, that you use every single day, can help you get through school more efficiently, and it is all right there in your pocket!

Being organized makes you feel good about yourself.  And who doesn’t want to feel good about themselves?  When you are organized at home, at school, even at work, you can get more done in less time, leaving more time for the things you really want to do.  It may take a while to get used to being organized, putting things away, cleaning up after yourself, getting calendars set up, but the benefits far outweigh the effort.  I know where my car keys are.  I keep all my school supplies in the same place, no searching for a highlighter or notebook.  My bookbag is packed, complete with snacks, the night before.  The dishes are done and my desk is clear, ready for homework.  Because I am organized and have eliminated as much chaos as I can from my life, I can go with Rachel to see our friends, blessthefall, stay out all night, and still pass my History test the next day with an A.

And those kids who poke fun at me for working ahead……Let’s just say that I do not see their names on the Dean’s List, like mine!