I'm back in school. It's a weird feeling, particularly since I'm roughly three times the age of most of the students in both the classes I'm taking. I can state with some certainty that I'm the oldest person in the room in both Spanish and Foundations of Media Research.
My major is Journalism, and I should receive my degree in just under two years.
I first entered Georgia State University as an eighteen year old in 1969. The campus consisted of about a half dozen buildings all clustered near Sparks and Kell Halls. At that time college, was to me, an extension of high school. I had no real objectives in mind, and had declared history as my major, with no inkling that working in that field would have required a doctorate.
I dropped out after a few quarters, and married my first wife, whom I met in GSU's refectory at the time it featured a long communal table. Truthfully, I spent much more time in the refectory, and in Hurt Park when the weather was good, than I did actually attending my classes.
Over the years I made stabs at completing a degree program, which I would change every decade or so. Finally, I entered the Computer Science program in 1990, nearly completed my degree, then began working in the Information Systems and Technology department of GSU. I retired from GSU in 2011, and for a few months afterward was primarily a house husband, doing volunteer work and Toastmasters as my outside activity.
I began submitting short stories to publications, and decided that writing would be my late life career. I took stock of my prospects of regularly working as a freelancer, and decided that having a degree in a related field would be a benefit, and, as luck would have it, the State of Georgia has a tuition waiver for citizens 62 years of age and older.
By mid-August I had made a firm decision that I was going to enroll at GSU, but decided it was too late to enter for Fall semester. Less than a week before the beginning of classes, though, I met a former coworker for lunch near the campus. While we were heading back for his office, I mentioned that I was thinking of enrolling, but probably wouldn't be able to enter before Spring semester. He said, "Well, you're down here anyhow, why don't you go talk to the admissions office?" I agreed, filled out the forms, and the next day was informed via email that I was accepted for Fall Semester, which was to begin in four days.
That meant things had to move quickly. The GSU-62 program is a great benefit for older adults, but the downside is that paying customers are first in line. People on various tuition waivers, including staffers and older adults, have to register during late registration, on the first day of classes. Not only do you not know which classes are available, but there's a chance that your first class will start an hour after you register. To prepare, I went to the Journalism department at the old Suntrust building on Park Place, and had an academic adviser print out a list of the classes I needed to complete the degree. To minimize the number of required classes I declared Computer Science my minor, since I'd already taken most of the requirements in that program.
At 7 AM, on the first day of classes, I looked over the classes I needed which were not yet filled, and signed up for Spanish, and one Journalism class (Foundations of Media Research).
So there I am, surrounded by students who are, for the most part, much younger than me. I'll write a bit about my classes, and the culture shock of being an old guy back in school, in future posts.