pass the geritol, please

Old people sign
Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved by schnaars.

The assignment was to do an archival report to find out what was happening in the news on local, national, and international levels on our date of birth. I had a blast going through old newspapers and magazines, and came up with some interesting stuff.

Now in this particular class, we are required to bring in a draft version before the final product is due. We meet individually with the professor as he reads it, then gives us input.

First, let me back up.

I am what is referred to as a “nontraditional” student, meaning that I am married, have kids, and am older than dirt.  Okay—maybe not that last part, but some days it feels like it.

I graduated from high school in the late ’80’s (that’s the 20th century, lest my children become confused) and immediately signed up for college. I also got married, started a family, and divorced by 22—not exactly your “best practice” for completing college. Life took over, and that dream of earning a degree got shoved into a corner somewhere, buried under a ton of laundry with a smattering of broken Hot Wheels cars to go with it. I later remarried with the whole “his,” “hers,” and finally an “ours” to tie us all together, and started working for the university where I’ve been for many years now.

That college dream, long smothered, thrust it’s tired head out of the laundry heap and whispered to me again. I started taking a class here and there, working towards my degree. I am now, finally, halfway through my junior year and excited to see an end in sight.


Because of my nontraditional route, I often feel a little out of place. It’s hard to join conversations where everyone is talking about the latest video games, or parties, and actors and actresses I’ve never heard of. I’m constantly asking my daughter to tell me, again, who are the Kardashian’s? or Snooki? And why do we care?

This semester I gave myself a pep talk:

“Who cares how much older you are?  You have that much more experience, and know what you want! Besides, you’re really not THAT old.” So far, it had been going well.

Waiting for my turn, I listened to the conversations of those around me.

“I can’t believe how hard it was to find sources for my birthday,” one girl complained. “There was, like, nothing happening in 1992!”

Nothing except for the birth of my first child, anyway.  Ackkk!

Relieved to leave that conversation behind me, I handed over my paper. Reading through my introduction, the professor, no spring chicken himself, stopped and looked up.

“This was a long time ago…” he said, inflection heavy on the “long,” then continued his reading.

A few minutes later he looked up again, then stared off into the far reaches of the room.

“This was really, really A LONG TIME AGO,” he muttered, shaking his head, before snapping out of it and handing me back my paper.

Picking up what was left of my ego, I walked back to my office, alternately annoyed and amused.

“Man!” I thought. “I really, really could use a nap.”

I’m back over at Yeah Write today. Click the link above to see what other people have on their minds this week!

18 thoughts on “pass the geritol, please

Add yours

  1. WHat the what?? IT wasn’t that long ago, and I am your age so I share your sense of … outrage? Dismay? humor? I am happy you are fulfilling your dreams and I want to read all about it!

  2. Well good for you for going back! And, if it makes you feel better, I graduated from HS in the EARLY 80s. So I don’t think you’re old at all 😉 Although you have me on the grandma thing. I had kids late.

  3. Oh, good gravy! (That totally makes me sound old). I graduated high school in 1991 and went straight to college. One summer, I took a literature course and loved it because of the wickedly awesome non-trad in the class. She had such a different perspective on the stuff we were reading than all of us barely 20’s had. I appreciated her link none other. You go girl — rock it!

  4. Sometimes I drive the bus for field trips at the same high school I went to and that my kids went to. (and one is still attending.) I started to feel old when the kids in high school were born after the year that I graduated in.

    I graduated in the mid 80’s, so I know a bit of the history you’re talking about. Trust me, that’s when all of the cool stuff happened. I consider anything that happened in the 90’s or later, current events. 🙂

  5. I went to a non-traditional college, and I loved sharing the space with people from all walks of life, all age groups – my education felt all the richer for it and the differing perspectives. Keep at it! I think it’s wonderful you’re finishing it!

  6. Argh! Your professor! I took a summer class with lots of older students in it and a really young professor. We did group work and I learned so much from the older women in my group! I loved it. And then there was the one man…who was clearly intimidated by the 20-years younger female professor and made life really difficult. I think it’s fabulous to have age differences in college classes to round things out! But students AND professors clearly need to figure out how to do that professionally (and tactfully) sometimes. 🙂 I bet the other students are learning a lot from you being there!

  7. One of my favorite people when I was in college was a non-trad “older” guy with a wife and kids who was going back to school. To us twenty-somethings, he was a mentor and became a great friend. He was the only one of us with real life experience, which brought a whole new perspective to class discussions. Congrats to you for being that inspiration to “the kids” and screw that dumbass professor!!

  8. Oh, that’s just ridiculous! Great story and good for you! Loved this visual: “That college dream, long smothered, thrust its tired head out of the laundry heap …”

  9. “There was like *nothing* happening in 1992!” Hahaha. I really enjoyed your story. Congratulations on your decision to return to school. I wish you much success.

  10. What kind of teacher treats his students like this? Everyone has the right to go to college, regardless of age. Instead of praising you for finding material he is mocking you for your age? You should talk to his superiors about his behavior; he has no right to act like that.

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