got me a college girl

in celebration of formal education in the life of the Christian girl

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

College as a Non-Traditional Student: When Mom Goes to College (Liz)

How can a twenty-two year old feel like a Non-Traditional College student? Honestly, I'm barely older than most of the seniors on campus (the freshmen it just me, or do they keep getting younger?). Unlike most students on campus, though, I am married and have a child who is pushing two years old.

I had my first class of the semester this morning. Literary Criticism is a class in which one would expect to find great diversity among the students, and the one who expected such would be right. I am (thankfully) not the oldest and frumpiest in the class. One of the teachers in the English department is taking the course for graduate credit, so she beats me in age (though I think I've got the trump in frump).

Being on campus as a Non-Traditional student is a fascinating experience. There are definitely things that make me feel OLD. I no longer think it's funny when someone has put laundry detergent in the lily pool to create piles of bubbles for the hundredth time this semester. I find most of the ways that 19-year-old boys entertain themselves extremely annoying. I'm not trying to find loopholes in the dress code (except for flip-flops.....I can't let them make me change my sandals) nor coming up with creative ways to try to fill my chapel seat so I'm not marked absent (though that could be because I'm no longer required to go to chapel). I'm no longer trying to carve out who I am through self-expression, so I avoid a lot of heartache over deciding which expression would be most "unique".

The flip side to being old, though, is that a lot of things make me feel wise, mature, and experienced. I don't worry about how I'm dressed - I've grown past that. I'm not driving a brand new Mercedes, and I don't care. There are more important things in life, and when we get right down to it the grudge work to pay off our old car built a lot of maturity and character. I find more satisfaction and self-worth in knowing that I can do this on my own. There are plenty of students in my classes that would rather take anything else, but are there because it's a requirement for the major. I have the ability to take the classes I want to take and not grumble about the horrible teacher or boring coursework.

Overall, being a Non-Traditional student is a positive experience. Yes, I'm old. But strangely, these 19 and 20-year-olds respect that. And though I didn't see it coming, so do I.


  • At 5:28 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…

    Hey Liz, now your little one's friends can say "Your mom goes to college!"

  • At 7:45 AM, Blogger prairie girl said…


    On a serious note, it was no secret that the students who wrecked the curve and gave all of us a run for our money in class were the adult students who had returned to school, many of them moms who had raised children already. We hated them, those serious students who didn't laugh at our bubbles in the pond, those students who studied and made intelligent comments in class. And we admired them immensely and always hoped that they would be in our study group!
    We learned so much from them because they had a unique perspective because of their life experiences. Most of them had to make tremendous financial sacrifice to be there and many were brave to be heading down a different career path than they had been on for the previous 20 or so years.

    I hope to return to class one of these days, though it probably won't be in the traditional manner so I won't be laughing at the bubbles to someone's face!

  • At 4:01 PM, Blogger TulipGirl said…

    When I was a young thing of a college student, I took primarily evening or off-campus classes--because of the non-trad students like you. I wanted the serious students. (And the profs who were understanding about people working full-time and going to school, too.)


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