Is self-pity the mother of ambition? I stood in the kitchen of my Manhattan apartment scrubbing dishes while fending off sulky looks from the trashcan. A load of laundry lurked in a shadowy corner of the bedroom. And I hadn’t prepared dinner yet. At thirty-two years old, a housewife, and a college dropout, I wondered, what went wrong? It was then I decided to go back to college.
Fast-forward to my reintroduction to academe. Undergraduate college life on an inner-city campus was like a kindergarten rebirth after my thirteen-year hiatus. The readiness I felt from flipping through how-to-re-enter-college books went south because they provided superficial information. Plus, they were geared towards 18-year-olds. I wasn’t prepared for the awkwardness of making friends who had barely heard of John F. Kennedy and didn’t know Britney Spears wasn’t the first to gush, “I Love Rock ‘n Roll.” Homeless persons going to college? Boy was I wrong! But it was the challenging coursework that lead me to the blunt reality that perhaps I was too old for college.
My endeavors as a nontraditional student, and how I did and did not deal with them, is the central theme of “Setting My Apron on Fire: Housewife Turned Undergraduate Nontraditional Student,” my 40,000-word memoir journal. Nearly one-quarter of all American college students are age 30 and over. This is my story.