Random Acts of Ismael:

Going Back to College is Hard to Do

by Ismael Manzano

       For the one loyal fan out there it should come as no surprise that I have gone back to college after a very brief—twelve year—hiatus.  That’s right, I’m getting edg-u-ma-cated!  I’m gonna bees a learned man.  And since I’m gonna bees a learned man, I figured I should take this time to offer some of my diehard fans out there a little bit of sagely advice—since I am now in a position to say I know everything there is to know in the world. 

     My first bit of advice would be not to wait twelve years to go back to college.  It may seem like a good idea, live a little, explore the world, earn a ton of cash, get married, buy a home, have a few kids first and then, maybe, when you’re bored with life and everything is in your lap and you have so much spare time with your cushy job, you can go back to school and further your education.  Why?  Because, chances are, it won’t work that way.  Chances are, you’ll end up almost thirty years old staring down the barrel of a lifetime working in a shitty job for mediocre pay and locked down in a cycle of work, train rides, television, dinner, occasional movies—cause that’s all you can afford—some idle chatter with friends about nothing because you haven’t done anything different over the last decade, a little time with the spouse—assuming you find anyone crazy enough to marry you—and then sleep.  Doesn’t that sound like fun?  And when you do decide to finally go back to school, you are so far out of the loop, that you’re spelling college, collage—which, by the way, doesn’t mean the same thing—and scared out of your mind that you’re going to blow a couple of grand a semester because you can’t remember how to add anything other than two super-sized happy meals. 

     My second point is, that it’s easier to do things the first time, straight out of High School, than it is after a lot of time has past.  You don’t have to tackle the whole experience by yourself.  Unless you were abandoned on a street corner as a child and was suddenly given a few grand upon your eighteenth birthday with which to go to college, you probably have a couple of friends and something that passes for family to help you with the whole registration process, someone to help you buy books, pick out classes, maybe even drive you to and from your campus.  As an adult, you’re on your own, unless you have an incredibly helpful wife/husband who is willing to put up with your constant what-does-that-mean questions. 

     Okay, that’s really a continuation of the first point—which brings me to my third point: inability to write good argumentative essay because of loss of practice.  That one is pretty much self-explanatory, so I’ll move on to another point. 

     Point number four, you don’t want to be so old by the time you enroll that you’re counting how many years you’ll have left to die by the time you graduate because financial aid won’t pay for a damned thing and you have to shell out the money yourself and can only go two classes a semester to boot. 

     My fifth point is that you probably won’t get the true college experience going after you’re already settled in.  There’ll be no late night parties, no binge drinking, or dorms because you’ll already have an apartment and a job that you’ll have to wake up early for that won’t allow you to spend your spare time having fun.  It’ll just be work. 

     My sixth point is that you probably won’t feel like you fit in, even taking night classes.  You’ll be one of the oldest people there, listening to eighteen years old talking about things you’ve only seen in really dirty movies, and gravitating away from you as if you were some aging stone that will sap away their youth upon contact…By the way, I’m close to figuring out how to do just that, so everyone had better watch out!  I’m gonna get my youth back…oh yes, I will.

     My seventh point…you’ll probably be a little bitter about point number six and start spouting off about magical aging stones and draining the youth out of your classmates…It’s not exactly healthy.

     My eighth point is for single people.  No matter how nice those people that don’t cower away from your age are, they’ll probably only ever see you as a father figure, or, if you’re lucky a friend.  Don’t even think otherwise!  That cute Asian girl following you around like a puppy can’t possibly have a crush on you; and no body would even suspect it.  She calls me daddy; everyone says I’m like her father—not an older brother, at least, but a f’ing father! Mind you, I’m happily married and have no interest in stepping outside of that, but the ego boost would have been nice…I mean, how long do I have to grow my hair, how often do I have to shave my beard, and how many cool slang phrases must I spout out before the rest of the class sees me as their equal and not some fossil!.......We’re still talking about you, by the way…or we’re talking hypothetically…whatever, but we’re definitely not talking about me.

     My final point is—and I, in no way mean this to tell you what to do with your lives; expect I am—either go to college early or don’t go at all, but don’t wait around until you need money, until you’re getting two old to learn new things, or until you’d forgotten what a pain in the ass it is to register, get immunization records updated, pick out proper classes, lay out backup classes, plan out your life, pick a major, pick a school, fill out financial aid, cry as it tells you that your expected family contribution is ten thousand dollars a year, and how much you regretted not getting a chance to live in a dorm! 

     That’s my little bit of advice; take it or leave it, I don’t care.  I’m old and in college; I have my own problems. 


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