The old geezer goes back to school

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The old geezer goes back to school
(Photo by P.J. Hughes)

By Rachel Giordano

College can be a frightening concept, especially when you’re in your 40s.

Anyone who decides to enroll in college later in life more than likely will have a bit of anxiety. For some, enrolling in college is simply the next step right out of high school; acclimating is a familiar concept. For those who wait, however, the thought of sitting in a classroom surrounded by youngsters is as frightening as a movie based off a Stephen King novel.

For me, college was the furthest thing from my mind after graduating from high school in 1991. I was a rock star (so I thought) and seeking out a career as a professional musician was what occupied my mind. I didn’t need school; I thought studying and learning was for the birds.

I found out the hard way that I was wrong.

I married at the age of twenty-one and lived comfortably working in the medical field as a secretary for many years. I did not play music for roughly eight of those years and missed it immensely. After moving around for several years, I officially called Pensacola home nine years ago and decided to get back into the role of a musician.

When I divorced two years ago, I was suddenly faced with a dilemma: What was I going to do with the rest of my life? I knew I could not solely rely on being a musician for a living, and medical office jobs did not pay what I needed to live comfortably.

I knew of Pensacola State College (PSC) through an online writing class I had taken a few years ago and decided to enroll. I was so terrified to go back but knew it would be beneficial, even though terrible thoughts ran through my mind.

I figured these 18-to-20-year-olds would point and laugh at me while whispering to one another, “Who’s the old geezer sitting in the back?”

You see, I had no idea what I wanted to do.

What type of degree did I want to spend my time and money on? Computers? Medical coding? Cybersecurity? I suddenly felt like a youngster (although not physically) trying to decide what to do with my life.

I was forty-three at the time.

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and enrolled.

To my surprise, I wasn’t the only older person in the classrooms. I found myself surrounded by people in their late 20s–all the way up to mid-40s; I wasn’t the only one seeking out a career later in life.

My decision to enroll at PSC was one of the best decisions I have ever made. With it being a community college, the diversity is tremendous, which, in turn, has made me feel comfortable and relaxed.

It is affordable, as well, and I have calmly settled into my path seeking an associate’s degree in liberal arts. My path will not stop at PSC, for I plan to graduate from The University of West Florida (UWF) with a bachelor’s degree in communications.

If PSC offered a bachelor’s in communications, I would jump up and down with joy (as long as my old geezer knees would let me anyway.)  Sadly, I’ll have to leave PSC, but I’ll never forget the wonderful faculty and staff who have helped me feel welcomed along the way.

Writing for “The Corsair” has helped me as an author, as well. I have self-published books on Amazon with plans to continue to write as long as the ideas keep coming. I have met some wonderful people, and you will too along the way at PSC.

For anyone thinking about going back to school, young or old, my advice would be to go for it. Do not worry about your age; PSC does not discriminate.

I promise you will feel comfortable in your new status as a student and fulfilling a dream can be within reach.