On Going Back to School

This past Monday I returned to a university lecture hall as a student for the first time in 14 years. My first week is now under my belt, and I have not run screaming for the hills. In fact, it went quite well, all things considered. I realize it’s still early days yet, but I’m finding it easier to maintain my sense of perspective about school this time around. After all, I’m really choosing to be there, in a way that I wasn’t when I was 18 years old. Then, it was more about what was expected. Now, it’s about what I want to do for myself. That makes a huge difference.

In case you’re curious, here are some of the high points of my first week.

High Points

  • I’ve really appreciated all of your well wishes.
  • It takes less time for me to drive to campus than I expected, and finding parking is easy.
  • I can still be insightful in class.
  • My history professor is funny, and he played the banjo for us during the first lecture.
  • The mostly much younger students are not at all put off by my comparatively advanced age.
  • The campus waste stations include recycling and compost bins.
  • The teaching assistant in my history tutorial went out of her way to create a safe space for everyone.
  • My history textbook is Canadian History for Dummies, and it’s a really good read.
  • I enjoyed my first education lecture, which is good because that’s the reason I’m going to school at all.
  • I was able to figure out the online course material delivery system without too much effort.
  • Most of the other students took notes using a pen and paper, like me.
  • So far my workload looks like it will be fairly manageable.
  • I am one of the few students who doesn’t appear to be intimidated by the writing, probably because I’ve been churning out hundreds of words a day for years.

simon fraser university mature student going back to school
The fine print says, “Artist’s conception. Real professor may vary.”

Low Points

  • I have to be in class at 8:30am on Thursdays, which was a bit of a shock after not having to even leave the house before 8:40am for the past five plus years.
  • Studying anatomy for my kinesiology class involves a lot of memorization.
  • For my lab work in the same kinesiology class, I will be analyzing my body composition, including my body fat. You can guess how much this mom of two in her late 30s is looking forward to that.
  • I got lost twice this week.
  • Reading for school means less reading for pleasure.
  • There is a fair bit of schedule juggling when combining the variable schedule of school with the decidedly not variable schedule of parenting.
  • Homework is still not what anyone would call inspiring.
  • The Simon Fraser University campus is as cold and rainy in winter as ever, and I don’t have a hood or an appropriate umbrella. Luckily this is fixable.

simon fraser university mature student going back to school
An upside to being lost was happening upon a pretty courtyard.

Fortunately, so far the high points outweigh the low points, and many of the low points are either temporary or fixable. For instance, I doubt I will get lost every week. All in all, I’m off to a pretty good start. I’m still taking things one step at a time, but I’m feeling more optimistic than I was last week at this time. I’ll take it.

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  1. That is really awesome Amber. I’m sure that before long, you will be back in the swing of things and will have it all figured out. I’m thinking that the campus has changed a lot, so don’t worry about getting lost, I went there for 2 years (in my mid twenties, no less) and got lost in my last semester, haha. It can be a confusing campus, lol. Yay for a great first week!
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    • Somewhat ironically, I got lost in an older building. I had just never been inside it before, even though I spent 6 years at SFU. So, clearly, having been there before doesn’t solve every problem!

  2. Congratulations on going back to school. It’s been 10+ I’ve not been in a University classroom I’d be so anxious thinking about it. I might go to one sometime though, but not this year.
    Mama and the City’s last post … #WhyFakeItJustMakeIt : Papitas And PuterosMy Profile

    • I was actually really anxious last week, as I looked ahead to it. It was much better than I expected, though. I bet that if you go back you’ll find that it’s different than you remember!

  3. Are you surprised that you can be insightful in class? I think being an adult student would be a plus here – you bring experiences that the kiddies don’t have 🙂
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    • I think that’s probably true, I do have more experience. I honestly just didn’t know what it would feel like to use that part of my brain again until I actually did it, though. I wasn’t worried I would have lost some of my skills as a student from lack of use, but I’m happy to say that doesn’t appear to be the case!

  4. I am pretty sure I took the same Kinesiology class when I was in university and it sucked let me tell you. Our professor made us stand in the middle of the room and 1 by 1 we stood on the speaking scale and did our measurements. It was horrid. But I passed with a really great grade because I never wanted to redo a class like that ever again.

    • Fortunately I’m doing the class by distance ed, so I won’t have to stand on a scale in front of anyone else. I can only imagine. What an insensitive way to collect the measurement.

  5. Thanks for posting!! I am hoping to return to McGill to finish my BA; readmission opens next month and I am both excited and scared. I am so glad I stumbled on a positive perspective today! (via Anktangle.) keep us posted on time management and your motivation level and all that jazz!
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  6. So cool! I love your balanced evaluation of the experience thus far:) And I am sort of envious – going back to school (even though I despise giving up pleasure reading) sounds quite dreamy! Where whatever you want every day, communicate with a totally different group of people than you have been since you were last a student…all sounds heavenly.

  7. Ha! I took that history class back in the day at SFU. Wow has campus changed. I bet you rock in class discussions in tutorials! Glad things are going well.
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    • Well, it’s certainly true that I talk a lot. I’m aiming for 10/10 in participation. Every little bit helps, right?

      As for the campus, it has changed, but other than one class that I had in a building I’d never visited, I’ve actually had classes in all of the rooms I’m currently in. It’s still fundamentally the same place, just with newer desks. And people who were born in the mid-90s.

  8. Yeah! Reading this made me so happy. The last time I was over here you were thinking about going back to school. So neat that you are taking this big step. Also, really interesting to read what the university experience is like today. My last university class was in 1999 and I went back to a small college for one year in 2005. In tech years that makes it about 50 years ago.

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