I don’t realize how old I am. I don’t have kids to gauge my own age, but when I am surrounded by kids (or young adults rather) in a classroom, I see just how “experienced” I truly am.
Case in point. In my accounting class, we were reconciling bank statements. I answered every question aloud in class. The girl beside me whispered, “You’re really good at accounting.”
I wish. I’m a writer because I can’t add. I’m only good at accounting because my first checking account was opened well before online banking and mobile apps. I had to write it all down and check it off at the end of the month – overdrafting was much more of a risk in 1995.
Then there was the time when my Economics professor asked who remembered service stations. I was one of three to raise my hand and describe the experience as “like having your own personal NASCAR pit crew.” Two minutes later, I was the only one raising my hand regarding knowledge of the “New Coke” fiasco of the 80s.
Being an adult student is a double-edged sword. I have no problem juggling an 18-hour class load with a 20-hour work week, though that may be because of working non-stop as a journalist for so long. I see my professors as peers rather than superiors, making me not the least bit apprehensive about showing up during office hours just to chat. I’m finding the most difficulty in classes where I already have real world experience. The lesson in how to design flyers and write press releases made me want to stab myself in the eye with a spork. But already knowing the material means just submitting it in the proper format – even when you know it’s wrong for real world application.
But it’s been a really, really long time since I sat in a classroom. I breezed through high school and never learned to study. Now, I know studying means cramming all night for exams, and I’m just too damn old to do that. As a chronic overachiever, I love setting high goals, but the closer it gets to the end of the semester, I realize GPA most likely won’t matter. All I need is that piece of paper saying I did it. A “B” may not get the highest honor cords at graduation as an “A”, but it will still get me a job and a good night’s sleep.
It really didn’t hit me that I was a grown up until paying my fee bill for an extra mini-session class in March. As I wrote the check, I told the receptionist to be sure to give me the receipt – tax purposes.
“Did you find your T-9, the form for your school stuff for your taxes?” she asked.
“Lady, found it, filed the tax return, got the refund and already filled out the FAFSA for fall.”
“Wow, you sure are on top of things,” she replied.
I looked at her with a no-nonsense stare.
“I’m an adult. I’ve got my priorities in order, and in all honestly, I’m just trying to get out of here before I hit menopause.”