A Cheer and a Nudge and a Push and a Shove…

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…

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “A Cheer and a Nudge and a Push and a Shove…

  1. Enormous step. ENORMOUS. How cool? Any more info on like where or to study what in particular or to what end? You know besides all the fun of writing papers and getting that shiny diploma.

  2. I think that is great! I’ve recently gone back to school and am in my second year. Even though it may take me 6 years to finish, I am dead set on teaching someday.

  3. Funny story about that, Kizz – he wants to study to be a mechanical engineer. What IS it with me and mechanically/mathematically inclined men?

  4. Yes, that blessed piece of paper.

    Congrats to your friend. I’m trying to prepare myself for similar things when I decide to go into a program that will likely be filled with much younger people when I get there.

  5. When I went back to my school for my MEd in my mid thirties, I quickly got used to the fact that if I had been very precocious, I could have birthed many of the students around me. I loved being an older student and found my motivation and focus to be much better than it had been when I was younger, I also found that the profs really appreciated having grown-ups in their classes!

    Congrats to your friend. I think he will love going back to school.

  6. Mrs. Chili–

    First, you rock. Second, thanks for the advice. Hopefully, when/if I get to do this thing, I know I’ll have to be patient. I watched a prof of mine do his Ph.D. stuff. “Pile Higher Deeper,” he called it.

  7. Congrats to your friend! What an exciting thing to do 🙂

    I’m always taking courses. I love learning!

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