Monday morning - 10:50 a.m. In ten minutes the first class of my last semester of undergraduate studies begins. It’s been a long time coming. This coming June will mark 26 years since my high school graduation. Twenty-six years. At times it seems like just yesterday and at others it feels like a lifetime has passed. To say that I am somewhat reflective is an understatement - sometimes I sit in amazement when I think about the series of events that landed me here - right here, right now.
School has been a relatively solitary activity for me. At least, or especially, since attending Sacramento State it has been. Obviously, I am significantly older than the average undergraduate, but there are some from my generation. But it’s more than that… I have several friends (outside of school) who are much younger than I am, it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s more to do with purpose. I am not here to establish or augment a social network. I have one that I am more than satisfied with. I am here to obtain a degree - that’s it.
Perhaps my age does have something to do with it. Of course there is maturity and experience to consider - qualities that can only be acquired through living a certain number of years. But there is a time factor as well. In addition to attending class and keeping up on my coursework, I have other responsibilities - time consuming responsibilities - such as fatherhood and maintaining a household. Although these and other responsibilities put a great demand on my time, it’s not even the type of time I’m speaking of.
It’s more like time left. I am motivated not because I don’t have time to do it all (I think I have proven that I probably do), but rather that I used up more than 25 years of “career building” time. I have to work fast; I’m playing catch-up. If I want to be, for instance, a syndicated columnist (AP reporter, NY Times writer, novelist, fill-in-the-blank), I need to be either damned lucky or damned good. Since I don’t believe I can count on luck that only leaves one option. I need to work three times harder because I do not have the time to be wishy-washy. I need not only good grades; I need to get this stuff.
This doesn’t mean I’m some kind of recluse on a campus of more than 30,000, it means I am focused. It doesn’t mean that those who incorporate the “party” scene as part of their academic experience are doomed to failure. Many, maybe most will strike a balance and get through without incident. I have academic relationships outside the classroom with many of my classmates and more than a couple of my professors. They are not, however, part of my social group. They’re not precluded - I simply don’t have the time.