Back to School in Your Twenties

I am a college dropout. Well, I was a college dropout. For a long time I had no interest in going back to school, but when I decided I wanted to, it was like I got struck by lightning and it wasn’t a choice so much as a compulsion. On my second first day of college in 2007 I was almost 26 years old. As is natural with me, I tried to make my social circumstances my main priority and set out to make friends. It was much harder than I thought it would be.

The vast majority of the people in my classes were usually about 18-21 years old. Because I had already been through my irresponsible partying days, I felt like didn’t have a lot in common with most of my peers. In an attempt to connect with people my own age, I enrolled in a couple night classes. There were definitely older people in these classes, but usually much older than me and they almost always had husbands or wives and children at home. So I was through my partying phase, but had not yet arrived at my marrying/parenting phase. I felt like I was in a collegiate no man’s land.

As I stayed at college semester after semester, I seemed to descend deeper into my twenties but the people in my classes seemed to remain 18-21 years old. I realized that this probably wouldn’t change so I decided to change my expectations of the social aspect of college. I decided that I couldn’t force myself to make friends; so I didn’t. I wasn’t living in the dorm, I was living in an off campus apartment with no college students to be found. I decided to take advantage of my solitude and self-imposed isolation and make my studies, and not my social life, my main focus. Shocking, I know.

I had some friends in the area still from when I was in school the first time, and I did get home to see my family pretty often so I wasn’t completely alone. In fact, I started to treasure my time alone. I loved my apartment and spent lots of time decorating and organizing. I found my groove. I was the old person in class. Which sounds terrible, but it was fun. Since I was older than everyone was, I was more mature than them too. I got a kick out of the 19-year-old gossip I heard on Monday mornings. I had rich life experience too so I could communicate better with my professors, which led to better grades.

I thrived during this go-round in college. I had awesome grades, I was enjoying most of my classes and all of my alone time. This was probably one of the happiest times of my life. I even met my now-husband, but not at school, of course.

Going back to school during the twenty and thirty something years, can be daunting. It can be lonely. But you just might learn some really interesting stuff about yourself. It had been my goal to graduate before I was 30. As luck would have it, my very last class of my college career was on my 30th birthday. It’s not for everyone, but going back to school was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

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