By Shawn Simpson
Mingled within the population of very recently graduated high school seniors and those returning for their second year of college is a less common type of student: the non-traditional student. This ambiguous term generally refers to students who are older and attending college on a part-time basis. I am a non-traditional student.
Like many, I am returning to school to study a subject which I am passionate about. In my case, that subject is journalism. I have a wife and three young children at home. When I graduated high school, I attended college at Full Sail, and obtained a degree in Recording Arts. After graduating in 1996, I followed my passion of working in the music industry and have no regrets. However, coming to JCCC to pursue an education in journalism and broadcasting is a manifestation of my changing interests as I’ve grown older.
The experience of coming back to school has been very interesting for my family and me. Where August has long brought us the back-to-school period where we’re shopping for clothes and supplies for our children, I now find myself shopping for the supplies for my own benefit. Even the first-day-of-school jitters have returned, as I’m left empathizing with my second grader about sitting in a classroom again.
In preparation for my first days at JCCC, I’ve been on campus a few times to get a feel for where things are located and to find where my classes will be. There was no shortage of other students doing the same thing in the last several days leading up the start of the semester and I had many opportunities to interact with my fellow students. I love to meet new people and share experiences. The most amusing part was that while I understood that I was meeting fellow students, my fellow students often thought they were meeting a faculty or staff member. It was clear that the college has a very friendly and respectful student body, as I was repeatedly called “sir” and profusely thanked if I happened to know directions to anywhere.
As this semester progresses and I am able to pursue my interests in journalism and broadcasting, I hope to have the opportunity to meet and interact with many of the other students, both traditional and non-traditional, here at the college. The shared experience of attending college together can be a foundation to share a lifetime of experiences, of which some of us have more to share by virtue of years on Earth, but make no mistake — those of us with a few more miles are here to study alongside the younger students for a reason.
Whether this semester is your first time in college, a continuation of what you just started, or a return from an extended break of years or decades, let’s make this the start of a great one. Maybe all of us older folks can share some life experience with our younger fellow students that will be helpful to them later in life, and maybe the younger students can help out the older folks with some of the more confusing modern social media trends.