Probably the biggest obstacle I had to overcome in going back to school was me. I am pretty set in my ways and definitely hold some engrained perspectives that I feel would either hinder or help me. As I hadn’t attended college in more then 15 years I had this preconceived notion as to how my experience would be. Some of that has definitely come to fruition but also I remain pleasantly surprised at the environment that learning fosters.
At first, as with most of my classes, people were a little ‘stand-offish’ as we all got acclimated to one another. But as the weeks went on people began to open up more. Hopefully early on I was able to set an example by volunteering to answer questions and cite examples. I have noticed that people certainly seem to be at this point either interested in passing their classes or suddenly realizing they may not. It is quite curious either way. Anyways, I have already made strong relationships with people who are in my same career tract and look forward to seeing them in future classes.
One thing I think most have noticed is that I am quite serious and quite direct. I think that I have established myself as a leader and as someone willing to help. Even though I may gripe about people not taking school seriously, I do enjoy helping out with any information I can provide. Although I do put in the time with my classes, I do enjoy coming off as well prepared and smart. It can be a fun time to give fellow students the wrong information as a prank and then let them know I was kidding. I do hopefully also make a point on preparation. Good times!
One of the best surprises has been my interactions with international students. I have met students from all over the world. Russia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Bahrain, Ukraine, China, Senegal and Egypt. As I am not always open to other cultures I have been extremely grateful in getting the opportunity to learn more about different world views and understanding cultures which are distinctly non-American. For example, a classmate from Bahrain is undecided in finding a major. I mentioned nursing and he scoffed as males in his country do not engage in that profession. He could be a dentist or a doctor. We often forget that places outside of the United States still may not accept things we see as common place. I certainly have been mindful in expressing my beliefs and when asking questions about someone’s culture. However I have yet to encounter anyone who is not willing to answer my questions or open up about their culture. I have also enjoyed getting to know the stories of the many young mothers who are obtaining their first career and conversing with young students just staring out with their education. Everyone has a unique story and that is enhancing my college experience.
One gratifying experience began during the second week of school when one of my fellow students approached me and asked if I would be willing to be a note taker for her and aid the Services for Student with Disabilities. I was given a form to fill out and given a brief orientation once I had agreed to do it. As compensation you can either receive priority registration or a small stipend of $50. As I already am eligible for priority registration I chose the $50. Every little bit helps, right? Also it was something that I could help a fellow student with and do so in the future.
So far I can say that there is very little I am disappointed with. One thing is how little some students seem to have vested in their education. They do not read, take notes or seem to remember when there is a quiz or assignment due. I am always willing to study with anyone and help as I am able but this group of under achievers simply seems to not care. Maybe with time these youthful learners will understand that getting it right the first time is very important. I certainly would never preach to them or suggest they get their acts together but it does bother me. Maybe it’s just the paternal instincts in me that wants them all to succeed.
So far with some planning, studying and engaging my fellow students, returning to school has been a very satisfying experience. I look forward to sharing more about my experiences and registering for the Summer term.