Success Stories from Continuing Education Students

Returning to school dispels many misconceptions about adulthood. One equalizer is passing the class, as classmates are in the same situation. This levels the playing field, given status and age effect little bearing upon satisfying the requirements for a degree. Working with and depending upon individuals who may be smarter at half my age immerses me in a learning environment in more ways than one. For example when the homework assignment calls for knowledge I may lack due to my own school curricula back in the day, relying on classmates becomes the real learning curve. In short I had a lot of growing up to do at thirty-three years of age.

It is easy to slip into the complacent mode of making a living, especially after fifteen years. My son was born and life had snuck up on me via a daily routine. And although I was intimidated about returning to school, I hesitantly began to trust my instincts enough to step beyond them. I made some new friends who would join me for lunch, and I also gained enough confidence to give a few presentations in front of the classroom. Northern Illinois University befriended me with a lot more than an education, for I met a few good apples that inadvertently helped me put to rest stereotypes I shamefully admit I had about the typical college student as well as others. Being receptive to new experiences, I also have to mention the class on Chaucer because Chaucer’s Middle English uses many pages to say one thing, similar to Shakespeare’s excessive verbiage saying one thing in a thousand different ways. Therefore writing concise one-page papers for our weekly assignments compelled me to also step out of my little corner of the universe. Yet if anybody has taken a Chaucer class before, this is a challenge far beyond grammar class.

Just as challenging is being amicable to constructive criticism, for when you critique other’s work as well as your own, it feels very personal due to the personal involvement. This makes it harder to question my writing, my assumptions, and myself. I assumed experience in the so-called real world as a student, as a writer, and as an adult, gave me abilities far beyond comparison to that of my peers. Yet the real world was telling me otherwise, because spilling into the environment and onto the paper is my life. I had to do more than relearn the four maxims of writing, owing that the value of being sincere, of being brief, of being concise, and of having evidence apply to most life situations, too. It seems my classmates at Northern Illinois University knew more about writing than I did, for I have been out of practice for some time in contrast. However some of my classmates weren’t as candid to learning about forty lines of Chaucer, because reciting it in the correct pronunciation in front of the teacher opened up the window of humility. Be that as it may, the world did teach me to laugh at myself, and I did not hesitate to laugh with it.

The most priceless lesson of returning to school umpteen years later is learning to ask for help. I would know, for having the opportunity to ask isn’t the same as actually asking for the help itself. Further conflating stubborn beliefs for truth during the class of life hurts learning. The reason is if a person assumes that some experiences are the class instead of being only a part of it, the need to keep an open mind becomes just as paramount as the class itself. In summation learning is the class.