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Boomer College. Smart, Smarter, and You

When old dropouts run out of excuses.

Three good reasons to finish college.

Three good reasons to finish college.

Baby Boomers return to college to ‘Close Old Chapters.’

Or, ‘Open New Horizons.’

Most of all they’re tired of hearing about it.

Any resolution from ‘Move Forward With My Life’ to ‘Finish Unfinished Business’ means the same thing: show up and finish.

Returning Boomer wants to finish what they started, but what really pulls them back?

What power overcomes the inertia, the posture used to avoid the whole ordeal?

Didn’t need college before wife and kids and mortgage. Why now?

They want to submit their self-esteem to a beating. They don’t know it’ll happen whether they want it or not.

Transcript reviews bring things up. Bad things. The sort of things that forced Boomer to leave the student body to start with.

No matter how long they’ve been out of high school, the late start/returning student will forever wear the ‘non-traditional’ brand. That comes across in some circles, like job interviews, as aimless or indecisive.

It also carries the stigma of failure.

If starting college later, or returning after a lengthy break, means failure, then it’s the failure to march lockstep with the herd.

No college class encourages marching lockstep, but they don’t teach fancy footwork either.  That dance comes the hard way.

The term ‘dropout’ is a harsh label to sew on anyone, especially Young Student who makes bad decisions, falls in love with the wrong people, ignores priorities like mid-term exams.

This time Boomer comes in with a sharper view, their path lit by College Vision. In a younger student, it’s enlightenment and enthusiasm. It’s passion.

And they talk about it. All the time.

You have friends who never quite got over college and they still about it, except now it’s more about football.

For Boomer, especially those who package their emotions in tight bundles, the quest for knowledge is squeezed under geological pressure. It doesn’t fit into any safe container, but Boomer keeps jamming it in there until the light flashes out of the college pan like a nuclear melt down.  Boom.

It gets messy when emo-radiation exposes things long unseen. The beacon reveals the truth about the sidetracking events, the obstacles blocking the way. People and places jump out of the past for their encore. Be ready.

Your momma wants a college grad. So does little sister.

Your momma wants a college grad. So does little sister.

Eventually the real problem comes to light: belief.

Boomer didn’t believe they’d be a good college student before the first dropout. It got closer the second time.

Now they’re older and know if they don’t make it this time, if they don’t show up and do it right, then the rest of their life will fall into a shallow cliché.

Failing now marks them a permanent dropout. Too late to run off and follow Jerry and the Grateful Dead.

Too late for Phish.

But time passes, they restart and stop, transfer and withdraw many times. Formerly carefree student grows frantic, searching for a major that pays back.

Degree choice reveals a trade school attitude in boomers. Younger Student logs class hours needed for university requirements, exploring interests and burning a year before declaring a major like their advisor advised them. Boomer makes plans.

If Older Student works in an accounting office, they major in accounting. They’re dedicated to the field, thinking of the future. Everybody likes to see that, at work, at home, on the bus. Maybe their company chips in.

Older Student sacrifices time to get to the classroom, the same adult sacrifices their professors make. Both have lives others depend on. They share a bond Younger Student will never have until they drop out a few times.

Boomer schedules class according to family and job and availability. No more intellectual exploration, no more wasted time and money on classes out of the degree goal.

Baby Boomers return to college because they’re not ready to accept the limitations, the feel of being done.

They believe in building a better future with a college degree mortared into the foundation.

You too?

Your kids will make fun if they graduate before you.

Your kids will make fun if they graduate before you.

About David Gillaspie
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