Returning to School as a Nontraditional Student
Originally featured in the newsletter prior to Spring 2007
I was employed as an optician for many years at a small local optical store. Although I enjoyed my job and the convenience of being accessible to my children, my professional options were becoming limited. Opticians are not in high demand due to procedures such as Lasik. Also, my employers had informed us that they were planning to sell the business within the next two years. I felt this was my threshold of opportunity to make a change.
I was motivated to return to school to complete my degree shortly after attending my daughter's graduation. Watching her accept her Master’s degree, for which she had worked so hard, filled me with pride. She inspired and encouraged me to complete my education as did my husband and my two boys. They all knew that I had regrets about not completing my education years before, so I took my first step by applying to Rutgers University.
I chose University College because I was the perfect example of the nontraditional student; adult, some college credits, lots of work experience, and a desire to complete a personal goal.
University College has been very supportive and encouraging in my educational journey. Shaheen Fatima has been exceptional in guiding me during this time when I needed all the support I could get. I had many concerns about returning to school full time, but I felt it was the smartest and quickest way to get my degree. It was quite obvious that I was considerably older. I wasn't sure I would even remember how to study; also, I wasn't sure how the other students or teachers would react towards me.
Fortunately, I have had wonderful experiences with both professors and students who help me, encourage me, and inspire me. I have a great appreciation for the level of intelligence demonstrated in so many of my classes. Students are so much more sophisticated than I was at 18. When I am invited to participate in a study group with students who are younger, I feel they are reaching out to help me fulfill my goal. They have been my best cheerleaders and have often told me how "cool" they think it is that I'm changing my life.
My major is Spanish and I have chosen this because of my family background and because of my desire to teach. I expect to receive my bachelors degree in 2008 (I hope) and complete my masters in 2009, after having been accepted into the Graduate School of Education this past spring.
I am happy to share my experience with anyone who is considering returning to school. It is never too late to strive toward goals; you are never too old to have dreams and taking one small step can change your life in just one year. It did for me!