For many reasons, I have taken a short break from college. I was hoping to complete my degree by testing out of the remaining classes. This proved to be a harder task than I thought, and alas, I find myself in one last semester of college. This comes at a time of change in my life. I also start a new day job next week.
Heading back to college has been a strange occurrence in my life. I'd like to share some observations with you.
Something happened in the last year and I was bumped from the college student category to the old person going back to school category. Allow me to explain this theory. The final class I am taking is a math class. Mathematics is no friend of mine. Keeping that in mind, I sat in the front row to make sure I catch everything my professor says. I will need all the help I can get. This up close and personal seat gives me the chance to truly observe this professor. When the professor walked in, on the first day of class, I quickly stopped referring to him as a professor. He confessed he is a graduate student and teaching this class is a requirement. My hope for a brilliant math professor who has taught the same course for 17 years was quickly squashed.
As he rambled on and on, reading the syllabus verbatim, I began to really look at him. I notice his clothes, his shoes, the bag he carried into class. I then looked at his face, and something about him is off. He has a quality none of my teachers before him have ever had. But what it is? Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. He is younger than I am. There is no possibility he is more than 25 years old. This has never happened to me before. How have I gotten so old that my teachers are younger than me? I know, I know - I am not that old (in fact, I don't turn 27 for 16 more days.) But something about hitting your late 20's while still completing your undergrad is not fun. This kid, who will be my arch nemesis for 3 and a half months, appears to have nothing in his life other than math. He acknowledged that some of us haven't had a math class in awhile (I personally have not had a math class since my sophomore year of high school, 11 years ago.) While making this observation, he happily announced there has never been a time in his life when he wasn't taking a math class. I hate him even more now.
Hate is a strong word, and I don't actually hate him, that would make me a bad person. I just struggle with the people that find the things that are so difficult for me, so easy for them.
The realization that I was in the old people club came to me during the second class. The freshman girl on my left, bless her heart, that introduced herself to me during the first class, clearly didn't make a connection with me. She seemed shocked when I raised my hand that I needed the teacher to have evening office hours as I work during the day. She seemed even more shocked when she pulled out her pencil case to retrieve her pencil, pen, eraser, and highlighter (all for taking notes) when I pulled out a pen from my purse. Where was my pencil case?! I did make friends with the person to my right, however. This gentleman also raised his hand that he works during the day. Thank goodness! In a class full of 18 year old freshman, and a 25 year old teacher, it is nice to have someone on my team. It turns out he's a middle-aged man going back to college and hates math too. Perfect. I found my study buddy. On my drive home, I was overwhelmed with a strange sense of feeling old and entering a new territory in my life. I used to be the freshman girl with a pencil case excited for college. Now, I'm a working woman just trying to get to the weekend and finally, finish my degree. I am a part of the old people club at college. And I like it.
I know that many people will think I'm crazy for feeling old at 27, but it's all relative. I am not old, but I am no longer a young girl. I barely get asked for my ID when I buy or order alcohol anymore, and after my upcoming birthday I will be officially in my late 20's. This makes me feel old. Maybe I am having a case of the birthday blues.
But enough whining. Instead of focusing on my old age this year, I'm going to focus on what my wise Dad said to me. "Think about all of the things you could teach him," when referring to my baby teacher. I will think about that. Maybe I'll even make a list, too.