Opinion

Adult students on campus have different experiences than peers

Students that are older than their peers have unique perspectives.

Image By: Morgan Winston

At 22 years old, as I get to finally conclude the unwritten chapter that is my Bachelor’s Degree, I am thrust into a world of Partying On School Nights and Meeting That One Guy From Tinder. I find myself somewhat lost and isolated in this obnoxious world that can’t seem to shut up or slow down enough for me to catch up.

I’m going back to school, finally, after a two-year delay that I’ve had to explain way too often not to know the intimate details of. I made the mistake of rushing through my Associate’s Degree in my home state of Virginia, with hopes for a journalism career path that few colleges offered. UW-Madison was a beacon of hope in the distance, with the kind of glowing reputation that preceded the utterance of its name. What I didn’t know before I rushed out here is that residency for tuition in Wisconsin takes 12 months. It meant waiting 12 months from the time I moved here to attend school. My academic achievements meant nothing if I was coming from outside of Wisconsin, which is a policy I will forever maintain is both discriminatory and unfair for tax-paying US citizens. But that’s another rant for another day.

A year into my living here and working full-time, and my residency was delayed another 12 months. By 2016 I had been admitted to UW-Madison twice, having applied two separate times, but I was still classified as an out-of-state student. Hours of tears and contemplation with both of my parents over the phone lead to the decision to wait yet another 12 months. We couldn’t get the loan money, and a lifetime of debt versus working overtime for another 12 months in this weird, sometimes frozen place … I guess you could say I preferred the latter.

Finally, after moving across the country from a drastically different east coast city at only 19 (where it doesn’t snow), leaving my family and friends behind to pursue a major in journalism that was very rarely offered at any Virginia schools, working my ass off for over two years, I ecstatically entered school this fall as a junior.

I quickly would realize that my classmates are all younger than me. Most of them can’t drink (legally). I can’t begin to comprehend a lot of my peers’ lifestyles because I lack an understanding of what it’s like to live with multiple people my age or socialize in a non-obligatory environment. I, like many others, have never had those opportunities. Most of my female (and male) peers are actively pursuing romantic endeavors, sometimes with multiple people at an expedient rate; I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost 6 years. I am part of the dying breed that believes in long-term monogamy. I try to be home every night at a reasonable hour, I work on motorcycles in my spare time, and I like to have a beer after a long day. I don’t live on campus, so I am often outside of the bar-centric social circles with no way in.

I am not alone, however. There are many, many students with experiences far more diverse and sometimes far more harrowing than my own. It’s hard to make friends; sororities don’t want me, I’m too old. When I raise my hand or contribute to discussions, people look at me like a mummy stumbling out of an ancient sarcophagus. Everyone is so sensitive, about everything; adults on campus come from a world where sensitivity gains you nothing and work ethic determines the direction of your life.

Yes, I live off campus. That means I pay rent. That means I pay for electricity, groceries, and, gasp, I have to allocate for these things in my budget. I don’t lose sleep at night wondering if my fake ID will be confiscated in the near future because I have a real ID, because, gasp, I’m legal. And no, I won’t buy you beer. Trust me, it’s not worth the trouble.

My fellows are out there, humans who come from a world entirely different than this one, and perhaps they feel the same way I do. I can’t help but look with wonder upon the younger generation and their careless lifestyles, wasting their parents’ money on illegally obtained alcohol and their Greek retreat to Acapulco.

For those of you who are also often frustrated by the rampant obliviousness of the campus population, do not fret; you aren’t alone. There are tons of us out there, of all ages, races, genders, shapes and sizes who are dedicated to our careers and obtaining them through hard work. Get to know everyone around you, even if you think they are exclusively a waste of your precious time, there is no telling what kind of things you can learn from your peers. Even if you feel the miles-long rift between you growing wider and wider as you continue to observe the world around you.

Savannah is a junior intending on majoring in journalism. If you are a student that is older than many of your peers, what have your experiences been? Send all of your comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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