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I'm in my third quarter right now, at a community college here in Seattle studying Medical Assisting.  

It's been 25 years since the last time I was in college.  Things that are the same now as then?  There's a ton of homework and I have to study pretty hard to stay on top of it.  I still feel a bit like an outsider (but for very different reasons), but that's really about all that's the same.  

The last time I was in school there were no personal computers, netbooks, iPhones, Androids or fax machines.  We used copy machines and actual ditto machines to make copies.  Papers were typed (on an Olivetti or Selectric II - who remembers those?) and notes were taken with pencil and paper.  

Online classes did not exist (most of my classes now are a hybrid of on-line and in-class lecture).  Study groups met in person, not in Google Hangouts.  

I don't remember a lot of folks who are my age now in college back in the early 1980's.  I'm sure they were there, they were just not on my radar.  An interesting observation of my fellow older students - we all seem to drag rolling cases around campus which our younger compatriots never do.  Maybe its because we've more experience.  Or maybe its that our backs hurt.

I'm in school to train for my (at least) third career.  I'm on unemployment and food stamps which is paying for my tuition and books. It wouldn't be possible for me to be training into Medical Assisting without this social safety net.  Worker retraining is absolutely essential for my family getting out of the poverty hole we are in.  With the retraining I have the potential to earn a living wage starting next year.  Without it, well I don't really want to think about where we will be without it.

The issues coming up in this election about the direction of the country and how we spend our money has direct and potentially dire effects on families like mine.  

I've been joking to my fellow students that I go to school every quarter century.  I wonder what will be new in education when I go back again when I'm 75!  Will I be telling stories to the young things then about thumb drives and smart phones?  Who knows. Maybe by then instead of dragging a rolling cart along we will have antigrav bags which will follow behind us like pets on a leash.  

Unless we break the social compact to care for one another by voting against our own interests.  In which case there will be no school for me, and likely not for those children being born now who will be looking for college in that future.  Look at your kids and your grandkids folks.  This election is really about them.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good for you, and good luck. (6+ / 0-)
    Papers were typed (on an Olivetti or Selectric II - who remembers those?)
    I remember them...I even remember paper and pencil.

    Does that mean I'm too old?

    •  Your never too old... (0+ / 0-)

      My partner finished a ND degree over at Bastyr last fall.  And has passed all the boards and licenses.  Now onto setting up a practice...  Now at the age of 49, will be starting a new career and $180,000 in debt for it.

      "Death is the winner in any war." - Nightwish/Imaginareum/Song of myself.

      by doingbusinessas on Thu Sep 27, 2012 at 09:16:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Way to go! (5+ / 0-)

    With a goal, college is more enjoyable and you'll get more out of it than the average twenty-something. I was in my 40s by the time I graduated. It was hard but it allowed me to get better jobs and I've never regretted it. You won't regret it either. Thanks for another good reminder of what the coming election is all about.

  •  In my mid-forties, and I've also gone back to (5+ / 0-)

    school recently. I'm afraid I go a little more often than you do, every fifteen years or so, and I'm on my third or fourth career depending on how you count it. I very much understand what you're going through regarding the addition of technology to classes. I consider myself reasonably technologically adept, yet if you're not used to something, you're not used to it. Still, I'm happy to not have to use a type writer. Typing was the bane of my first attempt at college. I sometime joke that I couldn't finish my B.A. until personal computers and word processing programs became commonplace.

    Good-luck with your program.

    •  I learned how to type when I was in the (3+ / 0-)

      fifth grade. My mother bought me a cheap manual typewriter. Which I hated. The electric ones are much better.

      I had the best Typing Teacher in High School, (she gave me the confidence I needed when I was first afraid of the typewriter). Although, I really perfected my typing in College.

      Now I have a computer. I love the computer. So much easier to make corrections and the big screen is cool. Plus I can type even faster on the computer. I estimate about 85 words per minute.

      I could type all day using a computer. Although I could type all day on the typewriter too.

      My Father had a saying. He said never stand when you can sit and never sit when you can lie down. Kind of why I like typing. It's a sit down job. He had a lot of funny sayings.

      For anyone interested in financial aid: How to Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 06:56:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good for you (4+ / 0-)

    I went back to school in 2003-2005. It was a good experience, even if I felt a bit out of place. There where students of all ages studying for a range of degrees. We need even more access to adult education in the country.

    A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by notrouble on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 10:25:35 PM PDT

  •  Heh. Could be worse--you could be a (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, wintergreen8694, rebel ga, marina

    prof at the front of the classroom ranting and raving about the IBM-selectric days, and asking your students if they've ever heard of "white out"....LOL.

    (When I sometimes get tangled up in the smartboard technology in my classroom and my younger students giggle....I just peer over my +1.75 reading glasses and say, "Hey, let's get out the typewriters and see how you do!")....

    Anyway, from the looks of it, you're the kind of student I would LOVE to have in my classroom.

    (I went back to school to complete MA just shy of 40, had PhD in hand as I was pushing 45; now, at 50+....well, all I can say to you is....could be worse: you could be trying to keep up with these "digital natives" from the front of the classroom!)

    Hats off to you!

  •  Wonderful diary... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rebel ga

    Good luck with school and your new career!

    You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time ~ Pres. Lincoln's warning for Romney

    by AuroraDawn on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 10:59:59 PM PDT

  •  I took a math class and the teacher said we could (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, wintergreen8694, rebel ga

    use calculators. I showed her mine, just a top of the line Texas Instruments (TI) device. This was in Dallas Texas, home of TI and I worked at TI. She didn't know it was programable. I assumed she did. I programed all the formulas into it during the course and at the end whized thru the final way faster than expected. She noticed I had not brought the formula page she had given us to use for the final. When I told her how I had programed them into the calculator she was amazed. Since she had okayed the use of it she let my grades stand but the next year they did not allow those TI calculators to be used. I think it was either the TI 80, 85, or 90. Not sure it was several years ago. They made one that was programable for formulas and another that you could write computer programs for too. I think they may still be out there.

    Maybe many years hence it will all be on our personal computing device so a child in Asia or America will have the same learning tools. Then class size won't matter but now it does.

    When I tell grand kids I learned to touch type on a real typewriter they bragg they can text faster than me with just two thumbs and drive a car while listening to iTunes.

    How far have we come and yet we still are fighting the same social, political issues.

    Conservatives supported slavery, opposed women’s suffrage, supported Jim Crow, opposed the 40-hour work week, the abolishment of child labor, and supported McCarthyism. from 'It's The Conservatism, Stupid' by Paul Waldman July 12, 2006

    by arealniceguy on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 11:02:47 PM PDT

  •  I am anticipating trying school again at 60 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rebel ga, marina, dsb

    since at 60 I will be eligible for a free class every quarter.

    I hesitate though as I consider that trying to help my 8 year old granddaughter with her homework has proven to be a debacle on my part.

    I am uncertain I am up to the task of research and meeting deadlines after some 35 years out of the classroom

    •  GO! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dsb

      take a class.  Make it something you really think you'll enjoy.  Get to know the 20 somethings, put new stuff in your brain.  
      best way to stay mentally healthy and put new energy in your life.  its not the same as helping with homework.

      •  I just don't know what direction to go (0+ / 0-)

        In my younger days, I had an eclectic education and ended up wandering through various grad programs, picking up degrees. I really am at a loss for what direction to take. Perhaps I should audit a class to sort of get my feet wet again intellectually speaking  

  •  Welcome to Dog-Eat-Dog Capitalism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina

    coupled with rapid technological advancement! Fun, eh?

    Bill Clinton is on record stating (toward the end of his second term) that "people should be prepared to change careers 6-7 times over their lifetimes".

    Huh?!

    oh yeah, Mr President-- I and millions of your fellow Americans have the resources and plenty of spare time to constantly be in college-- getting educated for our next "career".

    what a load.

    "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 04:26:55 AM PDT

  •  i started college when i was 48 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, rebel ga, marina, dsb

    and got my master's degree at 53

    good luck!

    Colorado has a much higher GDP than Utah because it is culturally superior

    by memofromturner on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 06:39:52 AM PDT

  •  As a college teacher, I see some people in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina

    your situation - obviously not a majority, but there are plenty of "grownups" coming back to school - or starting for the first time. Congratulations on doing this. I hope it serves you well. I went back in my thirties, and it was a great decision!

    We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
    Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

    by pixxer on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 08:27:11 AM PDT

  •  Best wishes! (0+ / 0-)

    I'm envious!
    Don't let the whippersnappers get you down!

    Remember: When you were their age, you probably knew everything there was to know, too! ;-)

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