Friday, January 20, 2006

Books and More

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.

12 comments:

Saur♥Kraut said...

I used to teach college at a master's level, and let me tell you; the older students were MUCH better scholars than the younger ones, for the reasons you mentioned. I would prefer to teach them again, any day.

Jamie Dawn said...

You sound focused and ready to conquer. Most people mature as they age, so I think they are better able to prioritize. I said "most" people, because I've known some whose minds did not mature. Good luck with your studies!

Dawner said...

I started my term 2 weeks ago and it has really been trying. It is really funny, when I was younger I was not focused for school at all and have found that with maturity came much need to explore my learning capacity as well as my ability to achieve what I couldn't within my youth. It sounds like you are well ready to go. Good luck on the start of your semester.

Mr. Althouse said...

G#@ D#%* typos! Just saw another one. Oh well, it's staying.

saur: Yea, but I gotta admidt that the vast majority of my peers back in the 80s did manage to graduate, though perhaps not to the best of their ability.

jamie dawn: I heartily agree and if I were to enter this world even five years ago, the results would have been much the same as SDSU.

dawner: Good luck to you too. I firmly believe that it's never too late and that the sky's the limit.

mckay said...

awwh, the poor kid. cut him some slack. his brain is still forming...

hey, i went to SDSU, too. i would love to go back to college, or julliard.

good luck to you and your continuing education.

Mr. Althouse said...

When I was there, it was Playboy's #1 party school. I'd like to think I contributed my part. I lived on Montezuma Rd. where the frat houses used to be (I was a K∑).

Mike

mckay said...

Ha! i was an AXO and lived at El Konk, and the sorority house around the corner.

i hated always feeling like i had to defend my education. I didn’t party very much and didn’t learn of its reputation until after I enrolled. Perhaps I should have switched to one of my other choices, Pepperdine or USD…would’ve been a whole different life path if I had…

Casually Me said...

You failed to mention the women, ok young women, but they are still beyond any age that could get a person in any trouble. Good luck to you sir.

Mr. Althouse said...

I didn't know until after either. I went there because they accepted me and it wasn't San Jose State (too close to home!). K∑ (SDSU EI Chapter) had just regained it's charter after a hazing incident before I got there. We were famous for our Friday night parties immediatly follow the DU's infamous TGs on Friday afternoon. I still keep in touch with a few of my frat bros.

Mike

Mr. Althouse said...

PS: I'm not sure when you were there, but if was my pledge class that stole your composite... sorry. ;-o We were rather umm, industrious.

Mike

mckay said...

party boys, i remember you well. wasn't all of americana college the same? party house, preppy house, high gpa or just plain high.

perhaps not, if our alma mater ranked #1 in playboy.. i never read that article, so this is all news to me.

The Zombieslayer said...

Best students at Chico State were the ones who came back. I think paying for your own education for one kind of forces you to have your priorities in the right place.