I had lunch today with an old and dear friend. I’ve known this man for more than 20 years now; he is very special to me and an important part of my everyday life.
This friend, though very smart, was never highly motivated. He never did much that required a whole lot of overt effort on his part – he never nurtured a skill or pursued a passion – and this is something about his personality that has always bothered me, even when we were younger. His characteristic attitude was a shrug and an offhanded, noncommittal “eh,” and I always wanted more from him because he’s so capable of more.
As we sat together over lunch this afternoon, he admitted to me that he’s thinking about going to college. Just like that. He looked up from his salad and said, “I’m thinking about going to school.”
I managed to not leap up from the table and dance for joy, though that was my first reaction. I could see from his demeanor that this is something that he’s not quite made up his mind to do, and I didn’t want to scare him off of it – jumping up and down while squealing like a girl would likely not be the kind of encouragement he was looking for from me. What I DID do was to congratulate him on this kind of thinking and to offer up any – ANY – assistance that I can render to make the process easier and less intimidating for him.
He is concerned – and rightly, I think – with the fact that he’ll likely find himself in classes with people much younger than himself. Having gone to college as an adult, I can totally relate to the feelings that go along with that: even as an undergrad, I had a good ten years on most of my classmates – while they were nattering on about which party to go to that night, I was thinking about how to juggle homework with housework with real work. It can be a very alienating thing to be the only grown-up, aside from the professor, in the classroom, but there can also be great advantages to that. You’re not worried about which party to go to – all that petty, insignificant stuff doesn’t get in the way of your studies. You’re likely far more organized and diciplined and, as a result, have an easier time meeting deadlines and fulfilling commitments. You bring a wealth of experience to the classroom, and your professors are going to LOVE you for that – at least, most of mine did – and, not lastly, you’ve got friends who’ve gone through this whole college thing before and can help you through the tricky bits.
I’m very, very excited for my friend, and I’ve offered to help him in any way that I can, from walking through the admissions process to proofreading papers to tutoring services. I’m hoping he takes me up on it…