The online voice of cambridge campus students
by Sonja Rauen

t seems like it was only yesterday: pomp and circumstance, cards filled with congratulations and money, open houses with plenty of food, and that "king-of-the-hill" feeling. That was graduation from high school, for those of you who can remember. Life has an offering; opportunities that can reach beyond imagination, diverse cultures and countries to explore, loves to be found, freedom to shout! Out of nowhere reality strikes. It is time to start from the bottom again, go to college, get a job, move away from friends, and the monotony sets in. Wait one minute, or two, or three, and this thing called "middle age" hits. The kids are moving out of the house, they are going to college, and a loneliness surrounds the house. It is enough of the part-time jobs with part-time money; those days don’t seem so promising. The light bulb in the brain turns on again, after the two-week holiday in the ICU for heart surgery (that wasn’t planned at all), and the unexpected happens!

Something weird, a little awkward, not normal at all, strangely enough the idea dawns: it is time to go back to school.

Serious, take it more seriously, help the short-term memory-loss that occurs during a coma, get an education, and just become a non-traditional student.

That’s right, college is still an option, in fact a college degree seems like the best thing that could happen (at this age). We learn from many experiences, from the wisdom that comes with age. The trials of life teach that with all the pain comes incredible joy. Time to throw the books in the backpack and head off to school, with a goal in mind this time. Or, perhaps it is just to get the mind back, it got lost somewhere along the way.

The best thing about being "non-traditional" student is that everyone here at Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Cambridge, is willing to help. Computers are a huge puzzle for me, but there is always someone around the corner, that knows-everything-there-is-to-know about computers, and loves helping the not-so-savvy-about-computers old timer. Somehow the doors are always getting open for me, on the spot, when I walk in and out with a backpack that is way too heavy for this tired back. People here in north Minnesota are very polite; I hear please and thank you, and get big smiles all the time, and not because I am "non-traditional" and a bit odd.

No, I believe there is a genuinely concern for the "mature" student like me, that gives one hope in the belief that there still exists "random of acts of kindness" that carries the human spirit. At least there is at this school towards me, helpfulness is offered and found everyday and it makes life so much easier for my somewhat befuddled and bewildered mind. It is the age thing again, my children call it, old school thinking.

Going back to school can be one of life’s bigger challenges. First of all, there are all the brilliant younger students in class. Second is the brain that doesn’t want to retain as much information as it used to. Third, the teachers are even all younger than me. Fourth, school can just wipe a person out (well at least us non-tradtionals), and leave me totally exhausted at the end of the day. It also has something to do with carrying around a lot of heavy thinking books on an old back; who uses computers when there are still books to read?

Why would anybody decide to do this to themselves? The brain is driven to improve when challenged and college can accomplish that.

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