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Confessions of a 42-Year-Old Freshman

By Andrea Rediske

91062-Andrea in Her RoomA few weeks ago, I stepped onto a college campus as a student for the first time since I finished my master’s degree 16 years ago.  I remembered the day my parents dropped me off at BYU as a freshman almost 25 years ago, and felt the same mixed feelings of excitement and terror.  This time, my first foray onto campus left me feeling simultaneously like a novice freshman and a seasoned adult.

Freshman me:  “Where are my classes?”  “How much am I going to have to pay for these books?”  “Do I REALLY need all these textbooks?”  “Oooh!  Cool pens!”

Adult me (seeing all the tables for campus clubs and organizations set up all over campus):  “Oh, I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about finding a social group or a boyfriend.”  “I wonder how my kids are doing at school today?”   “Did Z remember his homework?”

Freshman me:  “I am never going to learn this stuff.”  “Am I in the right class?  None of this makes sense to me.”  “Oh my…so much reading!”  “Wait, I minored in statistics…why does this all look like Greek?”

97004-Andrea's Graduation from BYU

Adult me:  “Why is everyone riding skateboards?”  “Is that what passes for hip clothing today?”  “My gosh, these kids look so young…”  “Do I look cool or just like a mom who is trying too hard?”

Freshman me:  “Am I going to make friends in any of my classes?”  “What if my teachers don’t like me?”  “Why hasn’t the TA graded that quiz yet?”

I walk into the class I’m teaching as part of my doctoral program, and all my anxiety and self-doubt melted away.  I was funny!  I was self-confident!  I was authoritative yet empathetic!  Yes!  This is why I’m here!  I love teaching!  Walking out of the classroom on a cloud, aglow in the moment, I look around and I realize that I don’t know where I am.  I’m lost once again on campus.  I’m a freshman.

Office

Have you ever felt the collision of your former and current lives?  Are you managing going back to school as an adult?  How do you manage the shift?  Share with us!

 

About Andrea Rediske

(Blog Team) is the proud mother of two living sons, aged 9 and 7, and Ethan, who passed away in early February 2014. She is currently working as a freelance science writer and blogger and will begin a PhD program in Science Education at the University of Central Florida in Fall 2014. When she's not juggling the laundry, her writing work, and the busy lives of her little boys, she likes to squeeze in a triathlon now and then. Also, her husband rocks.

3 thoughts on “Confessions of a 42-Year-Old Freshman”

  1. I am so glad I'm not the only one having these flashbacks/conversations!

    I'm back at uni, though how I'm "managing" fluctuates. Sometimes in tutes I amuse myself by counting how many "likes" are said during discussions, and I like all the funny t-shirts I see.

    In the past 2 weeks several people (so young!) have been shocked that I have kids "You look way too young, especially to have kids that old!" I grin, and thank them, then wonder if my oldest remembered his house key, and try to remember what I've organised for dinner.

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  2. I went back to undergrad to finish my bachelor's degree after my divorce in 2003. I was 30 but didn't feel horribly out of place or old, other than I definitely dressed differently than most of the "college age" students. Also starting law school in 2006, there was fairly substantial group of students who were also "non-traditional" like me, some even older than I was, and the law school was very welcoming to people with kids. I had a good experience both times, and was able to manage things fairly well until my 2nd year of law school when I was working 3 part time jobs (all law related), going to class full time, and my oldest son started to have a pre-teen full blown emotional/educational melt down and my mother was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. That was a terrible year and I had panic attacks in my sleep in January and February. Things got better after that, and amazingly enough, I got some of my best grades that semester.

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