500 Words At A Time: “Old” Re-College Student

An outlier is something outside of the norm and can be discarded as it is an outlier…or something like that. Sorry, my statistics terminology is a bit rusty. What I do know is that an outlier is not normal and that would describe my time as a college student. Should that be re-college student as I have been to college before, thus re-as in to do again?

Anyway, how am I an outlier, here are a few…

  • my age
  • my life experience
  • my attitude
  • my work ethic
  • my willingness to buck the tide i.e. challenge the system

My age is pretty obvious or at least it should have been if I dressed and acted my age. From what I can tell from observing other people my age that includes khakis, button down shirts, ties, suits, and other clothing that personally makes my skin crawl. As in literally crawl. Acting my age includes…well let me say that I enjoy not sitting at home all of the time watching the news and I do enjoy the occasional public outburst, expletive laced conversation, and still to this very day play games. I do not know how accurate those things are as I am pretty sure I am the oldest person in my social circle. Thus, I hope I am setting a new standard of dress and behavior for us “old” folks.

Life experience is an interesting thing, at least from what I can tell most people like me, those who go back to college in an advanced state of decripitude, came from a need or desire to learn new job skills, from the military, or some other state of “I’m doing this for X specific reason.” I did not. I arrived here quite by accident, as detailed in several previous 500 words. I did not have a goal other than occupying my time while the kids were in school and I had nothing better to do. That would describe a lot of my life experience, I do what interests me until it no longer interests me, which is why I have a wide range of skills and knowledge to bring to bear…and a lot of stories to entertain with…hey, this could be another story or two. 🙂

If you are even a casual reader, hell if this is your first post (please read more), you can tell a bit about my attitude. Allow me to say, what you read here is how I am in public. Yeah, yeah, I know everyone says that and maybe they too are telling you the truth. I don’t know them. I know me. And I do wear cammoflage pants, combat boots, interesting T-shirts, swear, speak my mind, and do all sorts of other things that people my age are not supposed to do…until now, because I am setting a new standard for us “old re-college students.” Why? Because college is not wasted on us, we know that this is a particular moment in time and there is no going back…unless you are one of those people for whom high school or college was your apex, to which I say, get out and find a new apex.

And that brings me to my work ethic…well that was a messed up transition maybe if I don’t say anything they won’t notice…I have a work ethic. I do the work. I do the work to the best of my ability within the guidelines I established to keep me from burning out on busy work. I have seen far too many non-“old” people who can’t find their ass with both hands and good directions; who don’t do the work, don’t try, complain constantly, beg for points, make excuses, and put forth the least amount of effort while expecting the best possible results. My hope, notice I said hope, is that these people (read a sizeable percentage of the student body) develops a work ethic in a job before they get fired.

Which brings me to my willingness to not take no as an answer. Now this willingness is only good when there are people in positions to allow me to do more than rail away against the system. This is where I got lucky with Sandy who was more than willing to give me a few extra yards of rope to hang myself with when my mouth and attitude ran wild. This is how I ended up writing a book on volunteering, teaching a blog class, working as an assistant to the capstone class, and so on. Paul, who took that willingness and turned it into a two year research project that resulted in a conference. This doesn’t include all of the other things I have done while here, most of which regular students will not get to do, because they accept the status quo.

Maybe outliers can be discarded or ignored, but you know what while nobody is looking this outlier had a blast, expanded his education way beyond what the sheets said I could, and in a really weird way had an influence on a lot of younger people. I know I’m looking forward to “old” people in a few years wearing camouflage, swearing, and playing video games. Let the revolution begin!

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