When you first start college, it can be a little nerve racking. You are unsure of who you are going to meet and what the teachers are like. This feeling is with any first time college attendee whether you are 18, 30 or older. For the older non-traditional generation, the feeling is even more so nerve wracking. Why? Chances are many of those kids sitting in your Freshman English or College Algebra class are near the 18 years of age range.
It just so happens that was me nearly 10 years ago nerve racked and unsure if going to college would be all it was cracked up to be. After all, I was a mother and full-time university housekeeper. How would I pull off being a part-time student with homework to boot in with a bunch of 18 year old underclassmen?
I didn’t know who I would meet, if I would become friends with any of them. After all, I was 22 years old when I started college. I had a toddler and husband at home that were waiting for me to come home and feed them. How would I handle the stress of it all?
However, it took just one professor and two fellow non-traditional students to see that I didn’t feel so out of place anymore. After all, these fellow students were there for the first time themselves. One student named Misty Adams was in my Developmental Algebra class. Like me, she didn’t pass her ACT Math section with flying colors. The second student was in my Freshman English class. His name is James Stacey. How I met him happened to be through an assignment we had to do in class.
This professor, I believe his name was Mr. Kitterman, asked us to write a short paragraph about who we were. While everyone was naming who they were, I decided to go a different route. This caught James’ attention and his eye. For my paragraph I wrote that my name was not important but who I was was. I was a wife for the past three years and a mother to a three year old toddler. If they looked for me, they’d find me in the crowd by looking down and for the child sitting on my hip. I ended up with an A for the paragraph and an A for the entire semester. (In fact, for Mr. Kitterman’s class, I never received anything less than an A.)
While I already knew I wanted to be a writer it was his enthusiasm that encouraged me to stay with it. I worked as hard as I could despite several life-changing developments. I got divorced a year later from my husband and became a single mom, living on the campus. I had been sexually assaulted by someone I knew and had worked with. I was placed on academic warning then on academic suspension. Thanks to some very kind ladies that worked with the university, I was reinstated to college very quickly and worked to stay off academic warning the rest of the time.
I chose to be a stay at home mom while going to college, living off my student loans and having very little money to spend on Christmas items. My ex husband wasn’t paying child support. I hated it but I went on food stamps and was able to receive HUD for my campus housing. It wasn’t the life I wanted but I was working to that right?
James, Misty and I stayed in constant contact the entire time I was in college. Misty eventually married and had to drop out and James decided to go back into the Air Force/Army. Yet, I remained a college student. During this time, James was my rock especially during the whole divorce fiasco and I eventually dubbed him the title Godfather for my son David.
In 2003, I was to graduate. I was just a 20 or so credits from graduating in Dec. 2003. How bittersweet it would be. I had been going to school for over five years and each summer I would continue going to get out of there faster so I could get off the welfare system faster. It wasn’t something I was proud of but what else could I do? I knew if I worked, my grades would suffer. I wasn’t and never have been a Straight A student even in high school. I mean I graduated with a GED in 1993.
I had fallen in love with James but realized that he wasn’t ready for me. As bittersweet as it was, I decided that I needed to move on with my life. This realization convinced me that I had to buckle down and get ready for that big, bad real world once more. I had been a college student/mom for far too long.
Was my college life well worth the end result? I believe it was. After all, I did graduate in Dec. 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism with a high 2.7 GPA. I ended up marrying a man I hated only four years earliersomeone I knew from my ex husband and today, we have a son named Talon together.
Yet, I think my best moment came the day I graduated. My family was there, Gary was there, James was there, my best friends Barbara and Misty were able to come and Vicki White (the person who helped me to stay in college) had also attended. The one person I wanted to see me graduate was my son David.. who was 9 years old and very impressionable. As I was walking across the stage, he yells out, “That’s my momma graduating it.” A little embarrasing but well worth it in the end. He now wants to go to college.
It doesn’t matter if you are 18 years old or a 45 year old balding male, trying to make a better life for yourself. If you feel the need to go to college, do not let nerve racking jitters stand in your way. Go to college and turn your life around. It may be one of the best things you do.