Realizing you're 'an older student'

Tyren Rushing

I graduated high school in 2005, and in an ideal world, I would have had my bachelor’s degree in 2009 and now be currently employed in my ideal career field. Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work like that. So here I am, a super senior in college at age 25.

It’s surreal when you realize that most of your classmates were born in the ’90s.These kids missed out on the epic adventures of Gargoyles, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,  Biker Mice From Mars and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But that’s not the point of this article; the point is that I feel old.

When I sit in class and listen to people talk about turning 19, 20 or 21 and I think back to what I was doing at that age, I feel even older. My godson is starting kindergarten, I hurt my back bowling the other weekend. I hate new music on the radio, and worst of all, I hate what the kids are wearing. How do people walk in skinny jeans? And don’t get me started on the snapback hats. In the ’90s, snapbacks were the hats of choice, and then fitted hats took over, and now snapbacks are back as some sort of retro nod to the glorious decade of Must-See TV Thursdays, T.G.I.F. and S.N.I.C.K.

It’s also funny to me that during my first go-around in college, I used to always give the older students questionable looks with thoughts like, “Geez, you haven’t graduated yet? I wonder if they get a senior discount on classes.”

Now that I am in the older students’ shoes, I can understand them better. When you’re very young and getting away from home for the first time, the temptations college offers are abundant.

During my first three years of college, I stayed home and went to community college down the street. However, when I was 21, I transferred to UMKC and got my first apartment.

I was the first guy in my group of friends to move out, so my apartment automatically became the party house. I probably spent more time drinking, clubbing and girl chasing that year than I spent in class.

While my social life escalated, my academic life tanked.  My grades dropped severely, I skipped classes, I left class early and was put on academic probation. I only lasted a year and half at UMKC before my last unspectacular semester forced me to take some time off.

I was depressed during my time away from school, and I really had to grow up during that time. I finally came back to school with a vengeance. I’ve been at a 3.0 or above every semester since, and I have completed an internship, found time to write for the U-News, and am graduating in December.

If you are young, the next time you see the older students in class, don’t judge them. Instead, try to listen and learn from them.

We old folks always have something to say, and it’s about time you kids listened.

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