My name is Jason White and I am a 28-year-old philosophy and mass communications major at Mansfield University.
My professors and advisers call me a "nontraditional" student. Most of my peers call me the "old guy."
While I do not yet feel like an "old guy," I do feel like I have a distinctly different take on college life. I grew up and went to school in Troy. And similar to the parents of many traditional students, my parents always told me that I should go to college right after high school.
However, I did not listen because I was going to be a rock star.
Within a few years of graduation I moved to Daytona Beach, Fla., to seek my fortune. I became a roofer. Needless to say, it was not the stage I had imagined for myself.
While in Florida, I developed a strong work ethic and learned the importance for a "Yank" to apply sunblock every few hours. After five years, I decided to return home to Pennsylvania in order to be closer to my family and now 10-year-old daughter.
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As I searched for work the words of my parents echoed repeatedly in my ears.
"Go back to school," I could hear them say each time I closed my eyes and each morning when they told me to get my lazy butt out of bed. With some apprehension and nervousness, I applied to Mansfield University. The admissions and financial aid people were very helpful and walked me through the application process, guiding me each step of the way.
Shortly after applying, I received my acceptance letter. Soon after that, I found myself back in the classroom.
It did take a few weeks to adjust to doing schoolwork again, but each time I found myself questioning my abilities, I would remind myself that schoolwork was not nearly as difficult or unpleasant as roofing in Florida.
I try not to feel like the "old guy," but I have noticed that some of my peers and I handle college life differently.
For example, many evenings my peers go to the bar while I go to the library.
Some of my peers will shirk their homework in lieu of weekend of adventures while I work on projects and spend time with my daughter.
I have also found myself criticizing the strange clothes and intolerable music these youngsters enjoy. In college I strive for A's and perfection, whereas in high school any old grade would do so long as I did not fail the class.
Now I am a sophomore in college, and at the end of this semester I will have completed half of my undergraduate program.
Every now and then I ask myself, "What happened?"
My parents have graciously allowed many "I-told-you-so" moments to pass by quietly and they simply smile with pride at their son's success.
My dad said, "We're just glad you finally pulled your head out of your " well, you get the picture.
As the semesters press on, I have found that I enjoy my schoolwork and spending time in the North Hall library working and studying.
I have also found that I can learn much from my younger peers, and they even learn a thing or two from me every now and then. I can provide insights in regard to working diligently until an assignment is completed along with tips for remaining calm while doing speaking in public.
My peers have graciously shown me all around campus and have helped me adjust to college life. We often agree on political topics and the need for peace and finding ways to end absolute poverty, hunger and disease. However, I doubt that we will ever agree on the topic of "skinny jeans."
My college experience has been very rewarding. I have made many friends and have found that I have a hunger for knowledge and learning. I attribute much of my success to the wonderful people around me. The students, faculty, staff and administration members at Mansfield University have provided me with a system of never ending support for which I am extremely grateful.
For anyone out there trying to decide whether or not you are too old to go back to school, I am here to tell you that it is never too late to keep learning.