Like many veterans, once I separated from service I decided to take full advantage of my GI Bill. After my first weekend on campus I realized that being a 30-something year old student is oh so different than being an 18-year old student. All the sudden I can relate all too well to Billy Madison.
I am more than 10 years older than my peers. Want to know what that means? I graduated high school before some of them were even in kindergarten! I have had some of my classmates ask me if we even had color TV when I was their age. Apparently my wrinkle cream isn’t working if they think I’m that old! Even my parents had color TV!
On the flip side…when I have an epically awful day I am old enough to go buy my own wine. And I know the difference between a good bottle of wine and cheap Boones’ Farm is that with the extra money I pay for the wine I won’t have to spend money on hangover food the next morning.
Being an older student also means I am slightly out of touch with the terms that the popular crowd uses. Then again, even in high school I was such a nerd I wouldn’t have known a cool phrase if it bit me in the butt. I swear, listening to my classmates talk I feel as if I could use a translator to understand what the heck they mean.
However, being so much older means I am a lot less confused when our professors start cracking jokes. Let’s face it, college professors aren’t exactly known for having the best sense of humor so the dad-jokes and ’90’s references make complete sense to me. Heck, half of the kids in my classes are probably still trying to figure out who Billy Madison is!
Oh, and going back to school as an adult has turned me into my dad. I have the intense urge to tell the girls in the class to put on more clothes and tie the boys pants around their waist with bungee cord. I can remember having a high school science teacher that kept bright pink ribbon in his classroom for any guys who wanted to sag their pants.
If they told him they didn’t have a belt then they got to create one from the ribbon. Back then I thought it was sorta weird but now I completely understand. Unless the student is Marky Mark I really don’t need to see their Calvin’s.
I will say that I have gained some confidence in who I am now that I’m on the wrong side of 30. No longer do I feel the need to attend class dressed to the nines just to impress the cute frat boy sitting behind me. Nope, I’m all too happy to stroll in wearing my not-quite-mom-jeans and comfy moccasins since I know sitting in a cramped desk does not require 3 inch heels and a tank top that I’m going to freeze in.
College campuses can feel like a completely different planet for older students, but you know what? Going back now makes me oh so thankful that I am married, not navigating the dating world, and have grown into being happy with myself.
I might find myself confused by the social structure on campus but at the end of the day I get to go home, curl up with my handsome husband, and laugh about the drama 18 year old kids think is the be all and end all of their lives. Having a little perspective certainly makes college a lot more entertaining than it was when I was 18.