For many children, today is the first day of school. Do any of you remember that?
I don’t particularly remember my own first day of school, except for the day that I went to college as an adult. I can’t believe its been twenty years since I drove my mini-van onto the campus parking lot, walked with rubbery legs into the building, and felt the fear rising in my gut because maybe I was too old and too stupid to succeed in an English 101 class.
After a couple of weeks, I learned to camouflage myself in jeans and t-shirts to blend in with the rest of the throng. I also learned that my brain hadn’t turned to mush, that I really could still study effectively, and that I enjoyed my time at school. I even found a few other women who became my school buddies — Donna and Jackie. I began to think of myself as a co-ed!
Now I teach writing to students who are facing the same challenge that I did so many years ago. I think going to college as an adult myself helps them know that I understand all of the outside forces that pull them away from what they have to do. I understand that it’s necessary to restructure their lives because so much will change. People around them will be very selfish and unsupportive. Their old friends will put them down because you can’t give them the same amount of time you gave them before enrolling. And on top of that, you will will have to deal with disappointment when assignments don’t turn out as great as you thought they were when you handed them in.
Going to college as an adult with responsibilities of job and family is a constant balancing act. What I try to make the students understand that they must carve out time for themselves; otherwise, the experience of morphing into a new, educated person will become a drudge, and they will quit. School should be fun, a time of seeking that person you were meant to be, a time to change. It’s unfortunate that most adults have to fight so hard for the chance.