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After putting the phone down to my bestie, I have to rush to the toilet for fear my pelvic floor muscles will give way again from the heavy laughter.
You see both of us have just started studying at University for the first time. We are both on the other side of 40. Both extremely witty and charming and look just like Angelina Jolie. My friend lets call her Peggy is doing a Degree at University full-time while raising her granddaughter, among other things. I on the other hand have started to undertake University “part time” to obtain a degree online while raising kids (one a teenager).
These past few weeks have been funny and frightening. My phone bill has risen rapidly with an abundance of phone calls to Peggy. (That’s right oldies call each other and talk for real). Each phone call ends the same way, in laughter at us and University life.
This blog post is a look at University life on the other side of 40, from the mature age student’s perspective, yes probably with our specks on our noses.
Here are eight reflections from our first weeks at university:
- The University website has more doors to open then Alice in that fairy-tale. It took me two whole days to find the reading I needed for the quiz I had to take. Sadly for me I didn’t find it until after the quiz. #Fail1
- My friend Peggy laughed that she would like to sit with the cool kids in their oversized coloured bean bags except she can’t. She won’t be able to get out of them when it’s time to leave. I can see her sitting there as night falls waiting until she can roll side ways onto her knees and in a very uncool way return to her feet.
- My friend Peggy and I keep wondering when we can challenge the lecturer on data and theories without being branded as “that mature age student” who has all the questions.
- It’s clear why mature age students are given a bad rap when the only other mature age student in your classes is Jeff. Jeff wears a 1980’s patch work brown leather jacket, happy pants, sports a grey mullet and uses pen and paper. Dude you’re taking us backwards, we can never look like we fit in now. Please Jeff don’t refer to us as the only two mature ages in the village.
- Peggy realised she had really made leaps and bounds when she booked a computer online to use in the real physical Library the next day. Only to be told by the head Librarian the next day during a busy lunch time that it’s not possible. “Um Yes it is” said Peggy. Peggy tried to argue the point with the Librarian as the long line banks up with twenty something’s behind her. Peggy searches through her hot mails account for the confirmation email. Just at that moment Peggy’s phone goes flat, and now she has to use the Librarian’s computer to show her that she is in fact wrong. Phew Peggy found the confirmation and confirmed to everyone that she is right the Librarian wrong. People in the line behind her are still banking up. No apology offered to my friend Peggy the mature age student; she simply tells Peggy that you need to tell the young guy with ear plugs on that it’s your booked computer so please get off now. Great thinks my friend Peggy there goes that invite to his study group now. By this time Peggy only has 40 minutes left of her one hour booking note to self book the old-fashioned way in the future.
- I realise late last night that I will be assessed on discussion participation on the discussion forums online. As I quickly think up a few possible discussion forum responses to sound interested I soon realise I can’t find a way to actually get onto the discussion forum and Jeff can.
- If Peggy finds a park in the Uni Car Park, has enough money for fuel to get there and back and Jeff doesn’t join her for lunch, it’s considered a good day.
- Finally we decided that if we can get the kids into bed by 8.30pm, cook dinner, help kids with homework, and find the sports uniform, fold the washing and put kids back into bed again at 9.30pm. You will have time to write a 1500 word essay before 1am.
Seriously however the biggest hurdles have been our own thoughts of am I really smart enough? Can I do this? Maybe people were right, I don’t really know that much. Overcoming our demons from childhood and later in adulthood has been a stumbling block and a whack to our confidence. Believing in ourselves as smart, intelligent woman has been the biggest challenge to date.
Even though we know somewhere in our psyche that we are smart we have the lingering question that won’t leave. “Are we really smart enough and when will someone find out we are faking it?
As we approach week 3 and 4 my goal at least will be to just try to let those thoughts of “I’m not good enough” disintegrate, and attempt to prove myself again and again. Stay tuned for more exciting adventures of the mature age student alive and brilliant.