Attending College As An 'Old Lady'
I firmly braced myself for the reality that I would be the lone member sporting readers, crow's feet and mom jeans.
I entered into it with my eyes wide open, fully expecting to be the “old lady” in my master’s program. And, that presumption was confirmed at my recent orientation after encountering my first classmate on the elevator ride up. He was cherubic-faced, bedecked in a Hollister shirt and smelled familiarly of Axe. He could have been my son.
“Maybe I should have worn those Uggs and sweats emblazoned with “PINK” on the derriere, after all?” I jokingly thought to myself, firmly bracing myself for the reality that I was about to go into a room where I would be the lone member sporting readers, crow’s feet and mom jeans. Thank God I’d had the foresight to color my hair the week prior!
Even though my teenage kids kept telling me I was “too old to go to college,” it turns out they were wrong. As of this week, I am a proud member of (veiled brag alert) Georgetown University’s Master’s in Public Relations and Corporate Communications program. And for the record, per the information disseminated at orientation, I am not the oldest in attendance.
That distinction belongs to a 62 year-old student. And you better believe I will be on the lookout for that youngster.
So, now it’s official, I’m a Hoya (which for some reason saying this always reminds me of the same cadence of, [brace yourself for a very high-brow intellectual reference], Harvey Levin’s sign-off on TMZ -- “I’m a lawyer.”)
College is quite different this second time around. Starting with my acceptance notification from the dean, which arrived in the form of a breezy emailed letter which concluded with, “See you on the hilltop.” Like he was offering me up a personal challenge to a rousing game of hackey sack or something. If that, in fact, was your intention, dean … bring it.
My daughter wanted to know what I was going to wear for the first day of school. With a straight face, I told her, “All of the new clothes I just bought with Georgetown inscribed all over them. And I will also carry my Georgetown coffee mug.”
She was horrified. I was disappointed that she believed me as I was under the mistaken notion that she thought I had more game than that.
My son’s questions focused on if I’d be pledging a sorority and/or living in the dorms. And whether having this degree would make me rich. To which I replied to all three, “I wish.” But, in my optimistic anticipation of getting invited to the parties with all of the other cool kids, I have been brushing up on my beer pong skills, just in case. (To all my fellow Hoyas – I have my red Solo cup, I am willing to travel. And I’m also old enough to buy the beer. Just sayin’.)
Upon arriving to orientation and casting a quick look around, I was certain they were going to ask me to leave, fearing I was one of my classmates’ annoying helicopter parents. But thankfully, my name was actually spotted on the roster and I was given my Georgetown bag of welcoming materials, just like everybody else.
We were introduced to our dean and her staff, and then had to go around the room and share a little bit about ourselves (Note to self: Work on delivery as my lame attempt at a joke fell embarrassingly flat) with the group. It was quite a diverse crowd, skewed predominantly young and female.
There are 252 current students ranging in age from 22 to 62 and 21 students on international visas. Our class consists of a handful of military public affairs officers, too. About half the class seemed to be currently unemployed or as a couple offered, “underemployed.” One classmate even good-naturedly threw out that she was a server at a Clyde’s Restaurant and could give us all a really nice discount.
At the conclusion of the information session, we participated in a “people bingo” ice-breaker. Basically, we had to circulate and identify classmates who met various requirements on our “bingo” card … things like: has brown eyes, likes to get up early, hates broccoli, etc.
I was asked by another Hollister-shirted young man if I spoke a foreign language. I responded, “It depends on how much wine I have consumed.” Fortunately, by that time, my nerves had abated some and my delivery had improved. I actually garnered a chuckle from him. Or possibly he was just respecting his elders?
Throughout the session, my phone was blowing up with vibrating messages. Concerned that there might be an emergency at home, I finally caved and checked it, only to see a series of texts from my daughter inquiring of “urgent” matters such as, “Do I leave the tinfoil on or off when I put the spaghetti pie in the oven?” and “Can Emma spend the night?”
OMG, seriously?!? So, I guess it really is true … as much as things change, they still remain the same. Only now I'll be wearing a Hoya hoodie in the process.