Thoughts on Surviving my First Semester Back in School

Well, I did it. This morning I took the final exam, thus finishing up this first semester of college!

There are a lot of takeaways from this experience so far. For starters, I’m somewhat surprised at how quickly I was able to get back into learning mode after so many years out of school. I certainly struggled on more than one occasion and could have definitely performed much better in some of the classes, especially the Chemistry lab. But still, I found myself drastically improving between assignments and exams.

My exam scores in 3 out of the 5 classes trended upward, and the others tended to hover around the same average. I could definitely do better if I had to go back and do these courses again, but fortunately, that’s not something I’ll have to worry about with any of these classes.

What surprised me more than anything was how chill most of the other students were with having an older classmate. There were points where I’d feel out of place as the other students would be surprised at their classmates who were born in 2002 or 2003. You can imagine their surprise when I informed them I was born in 97.

Still, I found most students were highly interested in my position. Many of these freshmen aren’t even 18 yet, so most of their life experience has revolved around their lives as students living with their parents. Most don’t have their own developed opinions on religion or politics, still holding their parents’ views on most things. Meanwhile, I have 7 years of additional experience at being an adult—already married with two kids and my own home.

I like to think that even if I tend to stick out like a sore thumb among other first-years, I still give the other students the opportunity to experience a non-traditional student. Part of me feels I wasted the better part of my youth waiting till now to go to college, but the other part of me feels proud that I waited to figure out who I was as a person and what I wanted to do with my life. There was a point where I would’ve been too afraid to attempt something like this on my own.

However, I do want to make it clear that I am by no means accomplishing this on my own. If it weren’t for the support of my wife, dad, and other various family members and social workers, I would not have gotten this far. Undoubtedly, a level of hard work went into getting me through this first semester, but it would’ve been impossible had I not been in a position of enormous privilege.

Going back to school has been an exciting experience, but also one I feel a tremendous responsibility to do well in, what with so many people chipping in to allow me to do it. I know many people would also love this opportunity but will never get it. Many people stuck in dead-end jobs don’t have the option to pursue a career they’d love. So as corny as it sounds, this is something I feel I must do for both me and them.

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