I’m sitting in the beautiful park-like setting in the middle of the Sac State campus. Ok, perhaps not as beautiful as say Stanford or Haaaavard or UC San Diego, but for being smack dab in the middle of Sacramento’s urban sprawl, it’s a veritable oasis. One thing that is very cool is that this whole campus is in a wifi hot zone. It’s not free, you have to be enrolled, but it is part of the fees, whether I use it or not. There is something surreal about having broadband access to the world while watching the squirrels scurry about.
School doesn’t start until Monday, but the preliminaries are in full swing. Today, I bought my books (most of them) and my parking pass and parted with about $500.00. I guess that’s ok considering that state and federal grants covered them and my tuition. And the check came yesterday! Judging by the quantity and the girth of my books, it will be a big reading semester.
The campus is relatively empty bright now, parking wasn’t an issue, but come Monday it will be a madhouse. Still I can’t get over or used to the vast difference in age between most of my collegiate peers and myself. It wasn’t like that at the JC (American River College). At the JC, there are many more of my generation that have returned to school to improve their lot in life. I don’t know if their goals end at the associate level, they are there solely for vocational skills or if they found returning to the world of academia too challenging. Perhaps finding the time, what with work, family and all, is too much. I just know they aren’t here.
What is true is that my experience in school today is far different than when I was in my late teens and early 20s. My focus is better and in a huge sense, many of the distractions that garnered my attention are not a factor now. I have no need or desire for the social activities associated with the college experience. What I know from my days at San Diego State is that these activities demand a significant amount of time. Those that can moderate fair much better than those that can’t. It’s a balancing act that left me dizzy. Needless to say, I didn’t succeed.
Perhaps if I had some idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up it would have helped. Don’t get me wrong, part of the college experience is and should be about striking out on one’s own, making adult decisions, lasting friendships and memories. It’s just that, in my case, the primary reason for attending college was largely absent. I guess that since I fulfilled this aspect of college life and because I have a social network of friends and activities already in place, my need for this type of inclusion has not materialized. Still, at times, I find it odd and a little unsettling.
Be that as it may, my path for the immediate future is defined. I am on my way to achieving something that I always knew I was smart enough for, but never thought I would accomplish. I had my doubts whether I had the discipline to stay with a long-term goal. My need for instant gratification had me abandoning most everything before sufficient time or effort had been invested to see any lasting rewards. And, unfortunately, I see me in a few of the kids on campus today.
Just moments ago, a young man that couldn’t have been more than 20 sat down at this very bench and we started talking. He saw my stack of books and asked about my major, how many units, etc. He told me that he took 16 units last semester, but only passed 9 of them (B-, B-, C-). He faired better than I did at SDSU 22 years ago. While we were talking, he was on the phone and was approached by two of his friends. Obviously, his social life was in much better shape than his academic life. And… he looked a little dizzy.