Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Back to School

So it turns out that I am back in school. At forty. Which, if it isn't already your worst nightmare, it should be. You'll just have to trust me on that. It used to be that I thought I was somewhat intelligent. And capable. And then I went back to college. Now the only thing I think I am is old. And...well, old. It is no one's fault but my own that I find myself in this predicament. You can even ask one of my professors who said in the syllabus that college is for people without the obligations of work and family. (I personally am of the belief that on-line classes should be taught by professors who aren't jackasses, but what do I know? I don't even have a degree.) Knowing that it is my own fault doesn't really make it any easier, though. In fact, it very well might make it harder. There is nothing like higher education seasoned with the acerbic salt of regret to make a truly pungent dish. We'll call it Rueful Noodle Casserole.

At any rate, I said you would have to trust me that going back to school at a certain age is rather difficult, but really, I will tell you exactly why. So here it is:

The Top 5 Reasons Why Going Back to School When You're Old is Poopy

1. 2Long Ago 2Be Rembered
Do you know what's harder than taking a college math class right after high school? That's right. Taking a college math class more than 20 years later. Like when your teacher says things like, "You all remember the slope-intercept equation, y=mx+b." And you are like, uh...the what-whatercept equation? No. I can't say that I do, Professor Smartypants. Or when you know for sure that you already learned all of the parts of the brain and their functions, but now think a hippocampus seems like a place for scholarly African herbivores. And the basal ganglia sounds more like it might be a tiny crew of fragrant herbs than a neuron cluster. Let's just say that there is nothing like time to completely dull the senses and rob from your memory all things academic that you studied once before. Now, the lyrics to Boys Don't Cry by the Cure? Yes, those I somehow remember. But the year Michelangelo completed the Sistine Chapel. Um, no. It is almost like starting from scratch. Except for that nagging feeling that you used to actually have more knowledge than you currently possess. It's a sad feeling indeed.

2. Homework² + Dinner + Job = Exhausting
You know what happens when you get old? You get really tired. Helping my kids with their homework was never my favorite task. But helping my kids with their homework when I have a ridiculous amount of homework myself? Well, that's just madness. I keep thinking, I'll just do my homework after they go to bed. Except guess what? They can outlast me. And then some. They don't go to bed. They are like tiny little machines that take in tiny amounts of food and can run forever! I, on the other hand, take in large amounts of grains, protein, candy, caffeine, and anything else I can get my hands on, all to no avail. By 7 pm, I could pretty much crawl into bed. And stay there. Forever. Add that to the fact that they keep asking me what's for dinner. Every. Night. I'm like, LOOK! I just made dinner last week. What do you guys want from me!? Dinner apparently. Dinner and attention and help with their homework. Demanding little beggars.

3. Everyone in school is younger than me
By everyone, I actually mean everyone. My classmates. My TA's. My professors. More than likely, even the university president is younger than I am. It wouldn't surprise me. I remember feeling old when I was 21 and attended some classes at a local community college with my sister. Then about 10 years ago I attended some night classes at a University of Phoenix distance campus. There were lots of people younger than I was, but not everyone. I felt old then. I thought when I started on-line classes at USU that there would be at least a few people my age. Nope. Not even my professors. Ok, maybe one. But the rest of them are younger than I am. A lot younger than I am. With 4 degrees each. Show-offs. My Psych 1010 TA conducts weekly webcam lecture sessions that we can attend. I tried once. I can't do it. He's like 12. I cannot manage to take him seriously. He does them from home, and I just want to call his mom and tell her to make him to clean off his dresser. It's ridiculous how old I am. 

4. Student Loan Debt
Debt is never fun. Student loan debt, as far as debt goes, is not terrible. They work with you. They give you 10 years to pay it back. The interest is comparitively low. However, I am currently at the age where most of my peers are finishing paying OFF their student loan debt. And that's for their graduate degrees. If they've deferred. And here I am, borrowing more money. Lots more money. I will probably be paying back student loans AFTER I am finished paying off my house. What the heck? Maybe I can do automatic withdrawals from my retirement checks.

5. Citations
I saved the best for last. If you have yet to hear of MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style, thank your lucky stars. No really. Thank them. For some reason, I went through all of high school, and even some of college completely ignorant of these evil acronyms (and their Peter Cetera related counterpart.) I don't know how I got so lucky. It was at UOP that I was first introduced to the nightmare that is APA formatting. It seems innocuous enough, right? Just 3 little letters, how harmful could it be? You know what else is a 3 letter word? Bad. And Gag. And Ick. I won't even get into 4 letter words. That's a topic best left untouched. If you don't know about these obnoxious styles of formatting, I will just tell you this. They are from the devil. They were invented simply for the purpose of seeing just how badly you REALLY want to graduate. What's that? You don't mind writing a paper? Ok. Well now do a running header. And set 1" margins around the entire document. And number your pages. And include an abstract. And put your punctuation OUTSIDE your in-text parentheses. And compile a works cited page. With the second line of every work indented. And don't just tell me the day the on-line document was written, tell me what day you accessed it. And, oh? You've got all that down. Well, dang it, we came out with a new edition. That's not how you do it anymore. I will just say with complete candor, that it takes me longer to cite a paper than it does to research and write it. No kidding.

Well there you have it my friends. The reasons why going to college when you are old enough to have a daughter in college is, at the very least, daunting. And embarassing. And scary. And often times depressing. But since when does that stop me? Since never. What's that? I'm supposed to be working on an English assignment right now instead of blogging. Fine. You caught me. I'll talk to you in a few years. ...Or maybe the next time I don't want to do homework.


  1. Oh, Cyndie! I'd say I feel for you, but I can't stop laughing! If it makes you feel any better, I'm like 10 years older than some of the full-time lecturers I work with, and I'm officially twice as old as most of my students today. So there's that.

  2. Good golly, Miss Molly, I am going to be still laughing in my sleep over this one. Rueful Noodle Casserole? Peter Cetera counterpart?? (That one took me a minute, but I got it; wink wink!) I love that you manage to be both smart AND a smart-a. Based on your genius, you should totally have 5 degrees by now. Love you and I'm SO very proud of you for doing this!