Old Dogs, New Tricks

A blog for non-traditional students

Preparing a Non-traditional Resume

Alright, the end of the quarter is coming and that means I’m down to a measly three months to put together a kick-ass resume and find a job.  Of course I’m in a total state of panic.  So I’ve been surfing around looking for tips on resume building – I found this video and I’ll be adding to this post as I find more useful tidbits.  I already applied this tip to my own resume – it certainly helped shorten the resume.

*** Danielle

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March 11, 2009 Posted by | Generation Gap, Job Search, Maturity | 3 Comments

Motherhood Strikes Again

I’m just going to say this upfront – I am so frustrated right now that I’ve contemplated just dropping out for the quarter.  With that being said, let me set the stage for what’s set me off tonight.

Thursday, as I was leaving a conference about this very blog, my phone rang.  I thought it was my mother calling again to let me know that the bus she had said was late (fifteen minutes earlier) had finally delivered my rambunctious little boy.  If only things had gone so smoothly.  The call was about my son but it wasn’t my mother – it was the principal at my son’s school.  He sort of beat around the bush, sending my blood pressure skyrocketing, as he explained that the school had called the bus back – because three kids had seen my son holding a little tiny screwdriver right before he was called to his bus.  When the teacher asked him about it, my boy – in his anxiety to get to the bus before the other kids did and kept him from getting a seat – lied and said he didn’t have it, then ran out the door.  She overreacted, or just explained the situation poorly to the teacher monitoring the exit to the busses, because he called the principal and said that my son needed to be pulled off the bus because he had a – wait for it – weapon. 

At this point I’m on the verge of screaming, “Where is my son?!  What did you knuckleheads do to him?!”  I understand that people tend to freak out when kids bring potentially dangerous stuff to school these days, but what was really going on here was a little bit of profiling – my son is smart-off-the-charts and not the most socially successful little guy.  I admit it, he’s a little bit of a nerd, and definitely bully-bait.  But the administration took that, combined with his furtive behavior, and assumed that there was loose cannon on their bus.  The end result of all this, that the principal finally got to after ten minutes of blithering, is that my son is suspended for three days.  By the way, for those keeping score, this happened the day after I found out about my apparent-ex having gotten married.

So cut to Friday evening – I’m submitting a paper for one of my Monday evening classes, and added a note asking for permission to bring my son with me, since I don’t have childcare available in time for me to get to school.  In the three years I’ve been at UC, every quarter I have had to bring my son with me at least once.  I always check with my professors before I bring him, even if it’s a quick email dropped that morning when he turns up sick and unable to go to his own school.  In the three years I have been here, I have never had a professor say no – on one occasion, I had to bring him along when we had an exam scheduled; the professor, who was also a parent, said that as long as my son could sit with the TA at the back of the lecture hall, it was fine.  Contrary to what my son’s school thinks, he’s a remarkably well-behaved little boy, as my classmates who know him will attest to.  

Imagine my surprise – or boiling irritation – when my professor responded and said that since it’s not the department’s responsibility to provide childcare and that the lounges are for student use only, I have to make other arrangements for childcare.  He oh-so-kindly suggested that if I couldn’t find a friend or family member to watch him, then I should check with the UC Women’s Services to see if they could help.  If I weren’t a responsible student, I would happily skip class Monday and badmouth the professor by name all over campus – but I’m scrambling to figure out what to do with my son and kindly leaving the entire episode anonymous. 

The irritation here is two-fold.  The obvious part is the completely senseless response of the professor – I mentioned that my son is 11 years old, so it’s not likely that he’ll run around like a toddler and disrupt other classes.  But fine, it’s his right to refuse – this is why I always ask ahead of time.  What really chaps my hide (I just love that turn of phrase) is that UC offers nothing to help student parents in these types of situations.  There is no emergency child care, and the child care that is directly associated with the university a) is expensive, b) has a waiting list and c) is only for preschoolers and younger.  Forget about the fact that it’s located closer to University and Children’s Hospitals than west campus.

So, here’s a lovely example of being a non-traditional student biting me in the … well, you know.  I’ve got to go corral my little pseudo-felon into bed.

*** Danielle

February 28, 2009 Posted by | Generation Gap, Maturity, Student Life, University Policies | 1 Comment

Technological Hiccups

Okay, so I’m a complete bonehead because I forgot how long it takes to print a .PDF in the McMicken computer lab – I’m waiting for two of them (13 and 14 pages respectively) to print right now.  I am so embarrassed at the backlog of other people waiting at the printer.  I guess it’s a sign of old age that I forgot something so annoying, right?  *sigh*

But thinking about this technological faux pas, I realized that I hadn’t posted about the interesting observation/suggestion one of my traditional classmates made about the lack of comments on my blog.  She suggested that maybe the reason no one has anything to say here is because they don’t know how – making that oh-so-common generalization that we non-traditionals are completely hopeless with anything more complicated than a TV remote.  I’m mildly offended, but not surprised – it takes people a while to figure out that I actually have a fairly decent grasp on computer stuff.  Of course, it helps that the first computer I ever learned to use was an Apple IIe back in 1984 – and I’ve kept up as best I could ever since.

This land of unfair assumptions became clearer to me last night when I was roaming around the Internet on a Google search for non-traditional student forums (I’ve got to find someone to talk to, after all).  I came across a discussion between a graduate assistant, TA or whatever you call them, and a group of non-traditionals.  The TA made these sweeping generalizations that non-traditionals all want to talk about their experiences during the Vietnam War or ramble on about the good old days of Hendrix and Jim Morrison.  Um, I was born right after the US officially pulled out of Vietnam and as for the Jims, well I wasn’t alive in their heyday, but I appreciate ’60s rock as much as the next Gen-Xer. 

In response, of course, one of my nearer peers (a 38 year old I think) asserted that non-traditional students are much harder workers and less disruptive in classes.  Eh, I hate to burst his bubble, but I procrastinate with the best of them and let’s just say that I’m as easily swayed by my younger peers to gossip and whisper during a lecture as anyone.  Admittedly, since I’ve already messed this up once, I do feel obligated to put forth a better effort than I did the first time around, but considering that I only managed to pass Bowling my second quarter of my original college career, just what better looks like remains to be seen.

Alright, I had to cancel my print after the third time the guy who mans the desk here came over and asked me how much more I had left to print.  I’m off to my next exciting task – finding a book in Blegen Library – provided I can find Blegen Library.  In the three years I’ve been down here, I don’t think I’ve ever even walked past that building, lol.

By the way, check out my two new links – I found a website for an organization for non-trads in college and a blog hosted by another non-trad, this one from Western Kentucky University.  And if for some reason you really can’t figure out how to comment here, you can send me a messenger pigeon – I’m on campus Monday through Thursday normally, most of the time in McMicken.  I’ll keep an eye out for parcel-laden birds.  🙂

*** Danielle

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Generation Gap, Technology | 3 Comments

Working Vacation

I have to stop apologizing for my extended absences – maybe by not having them.  Fall quarter ramped up during the last three weeks and I ended up working on projects every day for ten hours at minimum and barely made my deadlines.  I’m truly beginning to appreciate the difference in being a senior from previous years – turns out higher level classes involve a lot more work than I remember. 🙂

Speaking of work, here I sit during my winter break posting to this blog – as a way of avoiding doing work around my house.  I passed up the annual family trip to Florida with my parents and son, in theory because someone had to take care of our pets – can you board goldfish?  In actuality, I stayed here to a) enjoy the solitude of a house without my mother barking orders or my son popping his head into my room every fifteen minutes to tell me he’s bored and b) to catch up on all the household chores that I had to ignore this past quarter.

So far, I’ve mostly tried to relax and played a lot of video games, but I have managed to get my own laundry done, unpacked a few boxes from the recent clearing of my storage unit and even do a little homework – yeah, that’s right, I’ve got so much reading for the next quarter that I needed to start during my supposed vacation.  Here’s the thing that very few traditional students can truly appreciate about being an older student with family obligations and homes to take care of:  The world doesn’t bend to your needs simply because you’re busy and have other obligations.

So while my younger classmates are winging off to family vacations or traveling to Miami to root for our Bearcats (more on that later), I’m at home trying to simultaneously relax and catch up on three months worth of chores AND get started on homework for next quarter.  Part of what I’m doing during these three weeks isn’t just for me – my son’s bedroom is beginning to overflow with stuff because he has boxes of school papers going all the way back to first grade; he’s in fifth now.  The remnants of my former domestic life are no longer costing me $80 a month; instead they are cluttering up my parents’ already-full garage. 

I consider my awareness of the impact of my actions on other people as a sign of maturity; four years ago, I probably would have felt picked on if someone fussed at me for inconveniencing them.  I freely confess that I retained my youthful obliviousness of the needs of others well past the time when it was age-appropriate.  So when I see signs of this “me, me, me” attitude in my younger peers, I both empathize and worry for them. 

One thing that has surprised me about these youngins is how often they really put forth the effort for assignments in classes that they view as important.  While it would be great if they appreciated the importance of all their classes, I actually think it’s admirable that they increase the amount of energy they expend on something other than partying and text-messaging each other.  Maybe that’s a sign of impending maturity in them – maybe five years from now, they’ll be forgoing some long-awaited vacation in order to fulfill their responsibilities.  Hey, a mom can dream right?  After all, I view my younger classmates as a window into the future for my own child, and any indication that they aren’t complete hedonists makes me feel a little better about sending my boy off to college someday.

*** Danielle

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Generation Gap, Maturity | Leave a comment

Feeling Like Methusaleh

For anyone new to the blog, let me say welcome.  And on that note, I’m starting to wonder if I’m all alone out here – am I speaking your language or am I totally off base?  Speak up – use that snazzy little comment box down there!!!

Here’s a familiar, yet depressing, scene in my classes: the professor is explaining something, perhaps why celebrities don’t normally bother suing tabloids for libel, and after searching for a good example, settles on something that happened over 15 years ago.  Midway through describing what happened the professor will toss off a comment like, “Of course, you all are too young to remember that.”  At which point, my head bangs on my desk and I choke back a groan.

There are many variations on this theme; I’ve had professors refer to their entire class as young people under the age of 25, I’ve tried to contribute some insight to a class based on my slightly larger body of knowledge (like talking about how interesting Geraldine Ferraro’s comments on Hilary Clinton were in light of Ferraro’s own place in campaign history) only to be faced with blank stares from my classmates or, maybe the worst experience so far, actually having a “professor” who is significantly younger than me – although I imagine this is a far more common occurence for non-trads older than myself.

Of course, I’ve also faced the reverse problem – the professor uses some current event or public figure as an example and I have no idea who or what they are talking about.  This is particularly embarrassing for me because I’m a journalism major and should keep up with the news more, but there are only so many hours in the day – ultimately, I sacrifice knowledge of the hottest new hip-hop artist or the most recent escapades of Paris/Britney/Lindsay/etc.

Nothing can make you feel like an old fart as a discussion of your musical interests.  While I still manage to have some more up-to-date interests (Nickelback, Daughtry, Staind), the majority of my musical interests run to what is now classic rock – I shudder even as I type those words.  I have to resist the urge to smack myself in the forehead and say, “Doh!” when a classmate comments that they like The Police too – their parents used to play them all the time.

And maybe it’s a sign of maturity on my part – rather than becoming an old stick-in-the-mud – that I can’t stifle a groan when someone starts talking about the latest Will Ferrell or Jack Black movie.  My comedy interests come in two flavors: stand-up and romantic.  Outside of those, I appreciate small doses mixed in with more dramatic material – I’m a West Wing-snarkiness junkie.  Of course, my dislike for sexual pie humor or lame single-entendres only further underlines my distance from what is … um … hip? … cool? … happening? – I went too far there, I know that’s out of touch.

But maybe that’s the beauty of mixing non-trads with their younger counterparts – it’s a fairly simple way to mix the two mind sets and possibly lead to a little extracurricular learning.  Maybe I’ve encouraged some of my younger peers to broaden their musical horizons (not likely) or opened up a new world of movie entertainment (my answer to the Blades of Glory fans has always been Clue – a far classier movie).  And certainly I appreciate the pointers on what’s new in the world of pop culture – it helps me keep a step ahead of my adventurous 11-year-old son – soon to be a teenager.  There’s another shudder – better stop before I fall out of my chair.

*** Danielle

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Generation Gap, Maturity | Leave a comment

Living Vicariously

It looks like I may have finally overcome my technical difficulties – we’ll see how it goes the next couple entries.

Ah, college life – images of frat parties and crowded football games still float through my head at the words – and that’s after over two years back on campus.  Maybe it’s just rose-colored glasses, but I still have fond memories of what my first college experience was like.  Sometimes I long for my carefree days of wild parties and big plastic containers full of the mystical “jungle juice” that smoothed out the edges of those crazy days.  Listening to my younger classmates talk about their exciting evenings, and even bemoaning the hangovers that follow them to class the next day, I feel like I’m not that far removed from the fun of my youth.

However, at the same time, I find myself – inwardly at least – shaking my head in disbelief at the antics that my classmates get up to.  I’ve discovered I’m turning into my own mother – the horror! – and have to restrain myself from reprimanding the wayward youth that sometimes show up to classes more than hungover – still buzzed from the night before.  But my motherly instincts still can’t smother my enjoyment of their wild stories and wish for the freedom to be able to stay out all night, drinking and dancing with my friends.

I often wonder what those very same classmates think about me when I make a passing comment about being in bed by midnight every night.  I try to ignore that sneaking suspicion that they think, “Man, I’d hate to be that old!”  Instead, I share some of my own youthful indiscretions, in some strange need to compare myself to them – make it seem like I wasn’t always such a stick-in-the-mud.

Ultimately, while I sometimes miss the days when I had no responsibilities beyond homework and returning my best friend’s emails, I’m glad that I’ve learned the lessons that I have.  Although, I wish I had been able to figure out that all-night partying isn’t the best way to get ahead without spending so many years in debt up to my eyeballs and no job to speak of.

Maybe that’s what I secretly long to share with my more traditional counterparts – that having a good time is great but it should never be more important than taking care of your responsibilities.  That could just be the mom in me but I really wish there was a way to impart that wisdom without sounding like such an old fart.  I’d love to be able to save someone the aggravation and heartache of learning all that stuff the hard way.  And that’s the worst part of being the “grownup” – I finally realize that there is no way to teach those kind of lessons – some things people just have to experience for themselves.

*** Danielle

January 10, 2009 Posted by | Generation Gap, Student Life | Leave a comment