February 20, 2014

The View From Here: Life as a Non-Traditional Student

This week's View is from Kim Ulmanis.

I can't say Kim of such-and-such blog because that is the name of her blog. Her blog name is her name!

Kim has recently returned to college at the ripe old age of 33, and has noticed some things that make her a bit different from other students.

Life as a Non-Traditional Student

So you might be asking: What is a non-traditional student? The short and simple answer I’ll give is that a non-traditional student is someone who is over the age of 25 and has decided to return to school to complete their college degree. It could be for personal achievement, trying to build their career, or even changing their career. I chose to return for personal achievement and, to a small extent, for career purposes. 

I first began college in 2002 when I was a few months shy of 22 years old. Lost, clueless, and with a few odds stacked against me. One of them being my unsupportive parents, another being my own fear because I failed out of high school three short years earlier. 

This is why my parents were unsupportive. Their attitude was along the lines of “Hey, you couldn’t finish high school. What makes you think you can get through college?” Talk about insulting and gut-wrenching. 

But, I stuck it out and graduated four years later from the community college I attended with an associate’s in Liberal Arts in hand. 

Fast forward to today and I am now a 33 year old married university student majoring in journalism and plan to graduate by fall 2015.

To say life as a non-traditional student is kind of tricky would be an understatement, at least for me. I’m surrounded by early 20-somethings and a small handful of late 20-somethings. Many of these students either still live with their parents or with roommates in dorms. They know little or nothing about the realities of adult life or marriage. 

Because of that, there are times I feel out place and awkward. Here I am trying, sometimes desperately, to fit in and still be one of the cool kids. I’m still young and questionably hip. 

But there’s one thing I’ve learned that often separates me from them: I have zero patience or tolerance for bullshit. I’m there to get a job done and get started on the next project while some are still diddling around and not getting anything done. 

Then there’s the issue of relationships. I’m married, they are not. I make a conscious effort to avoid using the words “my husband” incessantly but they’re a huge component of my life. My husband is a huge part of my world. To stop using the words “my husband” in conversation would be weird.

Friends have been known to talk to me about their drama and relationship issues, sometimes to the point of me wanting to tell them to shut the hell up. I’m thinking, “Been there, done that. Don’t care to get into your drama.” 

It’s no picnic when I have to mentally tune them out because they’re bitching about their idiotic other half or soon to be ex or already is an ex. My marriage isn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but I’ve dealt with the bullshit that comes with dating and want no part of it now that I’m in a long-term, committed relationship. Married issues, while similar in some ways, are still different than those in relationships but are unmarried. 

All of this, and then some, sometimes leads to me feeling like I’m being a know-it-all snob around my younger peers. I’ve been there, done that on a lot of things and I let my experiences be known. For being an introvert who doesn’t like to be around people too much, I have a weird habit of opening my mouth and giving advice. 

Despite the occasional frustrations and that pesky snobby feeling, I do have to admit I like being the older student. I feel more focused and determined than I was 10 years ago and it’s nice to bring some experience to the table. Granted I sometimes feel like an idiot because my knowledge on various topics is next to nil and the 22 year old who is four seats away is a genius. Hey, not everything can be perfect nor can I be brilliant in everything. 

At the end of it all, I’m just happy to be in school with an opportunity to get my degree. I may not start a career in journalism but at least I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I did it, even if to my peers I’m an old fart. Pipe down, whippersnappers! I’m trying to study!

I honestly don't know if I could handle being around all those young, inexperienced college kids.
Or maybe it would be amusing. :-)

Get more Kim at her
Blog - Facebook - Twitter

**If you are interested in contributing YOUR View, please go HERE**

No comments:

Post a Comment