Back to college: 2019 edition

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ANGELA MCINNES
Opinion: Going back to college after being away for over 20 years means a fresh start in life.

Going back to school as a mature student in your ‘40s, as I am doing, is a unique experience to say the least, but one worth doing.

It took a lot of courage and thinking about going back before settling on where I’d go, and the most importantly, what to study. I decided on Fanshawe College because of its reputation, and the location — London — was an easy sell because of the greenery, the history of the place and the uniquely awesome vibe the city has.

With those two things decided, and having moved to London pretty recently from a larger centre, I had to decide on a program. I have a diploma in law & security administration that I graduated with in 1999, a background in IT from my workplace, and lots of customer service behind me, so it was a matter of if I wanted to go back to law, upskill in IT or go elsewhere. I decided elsewhere, combining my love of people, with a talent for problem-solving, and headed into human resources, specifically the two-year program, to get my feet wet.

Once I got in and got all the paperwork done, Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP) secured and my FANcard (definitely a great thing to have), I saw my schedule and started to meet teachers and students alike.

I heard about parties, and thought since I had done that in my first time around, my focus will be different. Instead I’m choosing to make connections and skip the parties and drinking that seems to happen, which did sideline me a bit the first time around. Not that I would not get involved in the College, far from it, like with getting involved with the school newspaper — Interrobang — and other events, just that my priorities have shifted, and loud music and drinking is not something I’m interested in.

Technology has changed a lot since I was last in college, when the use of laptops, cellphones and computer-based teaching that is in regular use now was not common, if used at all for most classes. Most tests were done on Scantron sheets or pen and paper, not online with timers. Given that I do have experience with Windows 10 and cellular tech, I consider myself to be relatively up with the times, although I think that some others in my age group coming in may not have that kind of edge.

A thought came to mind before and even now that I’m in school, that teachers and students may be my age or younger, and if I would be treated differently because of that. The amazing thing is that I have become friends with classmates of all ages, and the teachers are pretty good, and don’t see the age difference it seems, just the student who wants to succeed and become great.

Coming in later in life, the timing for college is a bit different. It does mean that potentially some opportunities may not be available to me, however, because of my prior experience in other areas, it may give me an edge to get to where I want to be.

Financially I’m in a different place then I was first time around. I’m better able to handle cash flow, I can cook, I have access to a vehicle if I need it, and I do have OSAP, which, along with still working over 20 hours a week, helps me to stay afloat and able to do what I want. It is also advantageous with the FANcard to have that bus pass. This is a real advantage getting to and from school, as the bus system in London is one of the better ones I’ve used.

I am still like a wide-eyed kid at times, seeing how large the campus is, taking in how much being here means to me, taking tons of pics, getting used to homework/projects again, walking a ton (and losing inches), and not being too hard on myself for not getting the A’s right away, like I was when I was first in. It is a blessing for me to be able to go back, to be in a college like Fanshawe, have access to the kind of learning that I do, and be able to go further if I want to, the third year and even a bachelor of commerce degree.

Ultimately, whether I succeed or fail is my call, and with the resources available at the college, and my own determination, I can see myself doing very well and becoming what I want to be.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.