School Angst

I mentioned that I’m going back to school. The decision itself is a hard one, especially for an older adult going back. There are so many factors that affect the decision that you begin to second guess yourself even though you know it is the right decision.

Time.

Cost.

Benefits from the end result.

All things that worry the returning adult.

But you never think about the actual process.

When you go to college right out of high school, the process is streamlined. There is a school counselor that helps or should help the student get organized and situated. There are certain deadlines and lots of reminders for high school students.  For adults…not so much.

You’re on your own, Baby!

All the research for schools, the deadlines, the scholarships, the assessment tests, registration, and financial aide, that’s all up to you to figure out. Don’t get me wrong, there are entrance counselors at college that specialize in getting you organized, but up until that point is all self-motivated. So much of it has to be done simultaneously or in the right order. For an adult with a full life, it can make a person begin to question their decision.

I’m one of those people who think long and hard about a decision before committing to a course of action, but once I’ve decided, I want to get a move on. College isn’t like that. There is a lot of waiting. Waiting for the government to get back to you on the FAFSA. Waiting for transcripts. Waiting for advisers and books and registers. The list goes on and on. Then if you hit a snag…oh man! Some extra info that is needed or something that has to be resubmitted can halt the whole process.  It makes a person antsy.

Another thing that I’ve come to realize is that as an adult, I’m going to have to learn how to learn.  I’m doing online school and I’m starting to realize how convoluted websites can be. You can find info from a thousand different ways except for the info you need. Just because it is an institution of higher learning does not mean that they have an efficient website. I’ve spent hours searching for info that I need only to find out that you have to call for that info. I can be really frustrating.

There is also the online forums and clubs. I’m going to have to learn a whole new world of online society. Some of it is voluntary, but some of it is for class. I’ve never been a really social person. Meeting new people face to face is hard, but to randomly pick someone online and start up a conversation is daunting. I’m feeling archaic.

I plan to stick with this and keep going, but just wanted to give out a cautionary note. College isn’t easy especially for returning adults. If you are going back to school or have been thinking about it, just keep in mind that it will be frustrating learning how to go about learning. Keep your chin up and keep going, it will eventually make sense….I hope.

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Going Old School

I don’t mean doing it the old way. I mean I’m old and going to school.

I took a break from college a million years ago, and by that I mean 23 years ago. I could tell you a lot of excuses about why I didn’t go on to get my Bachelor’s degree, but the honest truth was that I was scared. I have never been good at moving and grooving in crowds of people far from home. At the time I was barely at the point where I could find my way through a party that involved people I knew much less strangers. I lived at home during my college years because of cost. I only lived 30 miles from the college and it made more financial sense to just commute.  At the time I thought it was the perfect answer, but now that I’m older I think I made a mistake.

Most kids leave home and live in the dorm. It’s sink or swim. Learn to adapt or learn to adapt. I had the luxury of  playing it safe and staying home. It allowed me to stay comfortable while navigating the gateway that college represents to the scary adult world. When it came time to move on to a larger college for my Bachelor’s, I panicked. I thought about living with all those strangers and trying to handle living in a huge city after growing up in a small town and I couldn’t face it. So I made excuses…

Too expensive, tired of school, needed a break, wasn’t sure about my choices blah blah blah.

For years I have paid for my fear and never admitted it. Well, here I am admitting it. I have had nothing but ground pounder kind of jobs. Motels, restaurants, retail, phone work- I’ve done it all, but where did I get to?

No where.

So here I am, 42 years old. Lots of bills and no retirement. Nothing but fear ahead of me and the consequences of fear behind me. The only thing to do is change it. The only way I can see to change it is to go back to school. I’m going to get my Bachelor’s degree. Maybe it’ll help me as a writer, maybe I’ll go into teaching. Hard to say exactly. The world is a funny place. Whatever it is, step one is going back to school.  Online school.

I have no idea what I’m doing with online schooling. I’m not the best when it comes to computers. I love pencils and paper and classrooms, but I live in the middle of rural Montana. It’s a little hard to get to school with travel time and still needed to pick up my kiddo from school, so online is my best option. I guess I’ll be leaning more than just the subject matter.

My family is supporting my crazy idea. My daughter told me she is proud of me for actually doing it. She says I’ve been talking about it for as long as she can remember.

I’m just scared.

Again.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to concentrate on the classes during the summer when my son is home all day. I’ll probably have to do some pretty late nights. Later than usually, so that means maybe until 3 am sometimes. I’m scared that I won’t be able to pay for it after I actually have my degree. Student loan debt is no joke. We are already drowning in it from my husband going to school. What if I can’t work because of my son? Autism waits for no one. What if I’ve gotten dumb over the years and can’t pass the classes? What if I’m wasting my time and money because my life is half over and there isn’t time to accomplish anything?

I know some of these are ridiculous fears, but they are in my head. I don’t know what is going to happen. I am right back where I was when I stopped school all those years ago. I just hope that life experience will give me the courage this time to move forward in spite of the fears.

Wish me luck!