To say that I am a late bloomer is an understatement — especially concerning the conclusion of my four years of undergraduate studies. Of course, most people do not actually obtain their bachelor’s degree in four years, maybe more like five or six, but I’d say certainly before entering their 30s.
Yes, this is the situation of this writer. Returning to college, mid-30s, after a five-year hiatus, has proved to be challenging, but very rewarding. The journey up to this point has been a long, slow, difficult climb. Not unlike many other students living on their own since 18, always needing to work full-time to survive, without financial aid eligibility (thanks to the good-old notion that Mom and Dad are supposed to be considered and added into the equation — regardless of their support), and then later not wishing to go completely in debt, it has taken a decade, or two, for this June’s graduation to finally be on the horizon.
Being a self-sufficient young person made being a student a difficult choice. However, if your first and greatest goal in life is to graduate college, and you are a winner, you will find a way, somehow, someway.
After spending some time at a junior college, walking upon the hallowed grounds of Ohio State for the first time in 1996 was like walking around while awake, yet in a dream. The beauty and magic in the air on these Columbus grounds are unmatched by any other university. Living briefly in Baker Hall, and loving the bread-and-butter my brain was being fed, was so intoxicating that although my stay was short, leaving the following year for financial reasons, I never forgot the enchantment of OSU.
Several years later, after achieving an associate degree at a community college, returning to OSU’s Lima campus in 2003 was a slight adjustment. But another absence of five years presented itself in 2005 with the birth, and sadly, the ultimate passing of my very ill 3-year-old child, again causing a further delay for graduation day.
The string of grieving days, resulting in many late nights, followed by sluggish late morning rises for two years as a bartender was certainly a huge hindrance to returning to school. However, Spring Quarter 2010 marked the final push toward earning my bachelor’s degree, and this was more than just a slight adjustment. Getting back to real life was inevitable, but college is so much more than simply a full-time job.
I had forgotten exactly how demanding college really is. School is constantly on my mind, and maybe it is because I strive for A’s, but maybe it is because, when you work so hard to get back here, you try harder because you appreciate the opportunity so much more.
During the summer, I really reacquainted myself with the Columbus campus, and fell in love all over again. The towering, majestic trees that shade the rich, green lawn on the Oval, and the magnificent, historic buildings that line it alone are enough to leave one in awe. Witnessing President Barack Obama on that very location during my senior year is a memory I will always treasure.
Watching the young people scurry here and there across both the Columbus campus and the Lima branch cause me to be more aware of my age, but also remind me of my dreams. The hours of commuting between the two campuses, the late night stresses of presentation preparations, and the all-weekend hold-ups in front of the computer, trying to bang a paper out, are also all beautifully a part of this experience. All of that joy and stress will be nothing in comparison to the joyful elation, and likely stress, on graduation day five months from now. So I say, graduation day on June 12, 2011, is better late than never.