Back to the classroom after 30 years

What does it feel like to return to school at the age of 48? After 30 years of school? A generation ago? It’s not as hard as one might imagine.

I say that, but I want to add if you’re lucky like me and can focus only on school, and I mean only on school. My boyfriend takes care of the house and the bills while I go to school. Returning to school is a full-time job, plus take work home with you any/all hours of the day, night and weekend if I want to be on the honor roll job.

Walking into class for the first time last fall was nerve-racking. Heart-racing. White-knuckling. It was the best feeling I’d felt in quite a while. I eagerly sat in the front row, as I did for all my classes, I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only one who was older in the class. After going through my other classes and finishing up the first day I was happy to come home and report that I was not the oldest person at LCCC that in fact there was a population of 45-50 year olds. A tiny population, but still, a population.

I had gone a few semesters to college after high school, but nothing ever amounted to much. I don’t know if I was too concerned or too young, but I ended up with a few credits that I could use now. So I don’t have to take English again. Yeah! I somehow think I’m going to end up regretting not retaking it.  

My Wyoming government credit was already taken care of too, plus a few others from when I took college classes then.  I took Math 900, COLS, Public Speaking and Computer Information Systems my first semester. The classes weren’t very hard, but it was  enough to get me ready for my second semester, which is definitely harder than my first.

My math class was a great mix of students. Some were just coming up from high school that had a hard time understanding math. There were some students like me that hadn’t been in math for a few years and needed a refresher on the general concepts that turned out not to be so simple, like fractions.

It didn’t matter what age anyone was, we all just wanted to learn our basic math skills so we worked together no matter the age difference. I needed help at times and was able to offer help to others.

I’ve also made an observation while sitting in my classes. I personally don’t carry a smartphone, just an old flip phone, so one of the things that amazed me most about being around a generation of younger students was how much time is spent on their phones. I get to class and sit down in my seat expecting to talk to those around me about what may be coming up in class, but  all I notice is a sea of kids staring down at their phone screens. I don’t think anyone of this younger generation knows how to hold a conversation with the person sitting next to them when sitting in a waiting room, standing in a line, or just anytime that there is time available. First thing they do is pull their phones out and stare down blindly at them.

What happened to time spent quietly contemplating? I hope kids are doing a lot of meditating, otherwise I don’t understand how important life decisions are being made. What would happen if they didn’t have their phones to distract them? I shudder to think how short their attention span would be and what kind of behaviors would come out of not having their phones. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a smartphone hater. I honestly think they are a terrific resource. One of these days I will own one, too. I believe those students with a smartphone have a leg up on me because they do have quicker access to the Internet than I do and that is important when it comes to school.

I also noticed that a lot of the younger students don’t necessarily pay attention in class all of the time. They are off to the side checking their phones and texting back and forth to their friends, or scrolling through different social media apps. They’re not taking notes, some of these distracted students have even asked me if they can take pictures of my notes in order to have the information that was talked about in class. How is this fair? I pay attention in class. I’m the one who takes the notes and then it turns out they’re the ones who also benefit from it. This really drives me mad.

Did I mention that my son Ryan is also a student here at LCCC? He’s now in his second semester as a freshman here, too. A funny thing that happened with us was ending up in the same biology lab class completely by chance. Now if you ask me, I enjoy our lab time and I hope he would say the same.

It’s hard to have a class with your own child. I am struggling in biology and I don’t want my son to know that I may not be as smart as I’ve always tried to let on that I am. All you parents out there know what I’m talking about. (I’m in a situation where I can be found out). He’s a smart kid and doesn’t do anything like roll his eyes when I ask him silly questions. I bet he’s sick of me reminding him to do his biology every time I get off of the phone with him.

I am enjoying this new chapter in my life no matter how hard it gets. I’m enjoying it no matter how crazy things are. I look forward to sharing my day with everyone here at LCCC. Age doesn’t matter here. We’re all here to learn.

About Janel Bruner (8 Articles)
Janel Bruner is a freshman here at Laramie County Community College majoring in Web Design. Janel hopes to one day own and operate her own consulting business. This is her first semester on staff at Wingspan, and she hopes to be a valuable addition to the team. She enjoys reading and spending time with her family in her spare time. You can reach Bruner at cheynellieb@gmail.com.

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