Thursday, March 16, 2017

My Fundamental Transformation Concerning the Inner Self

First day of school
January 2015

Susan Fullmer
ENGL 201
Sktech #4, The College Experience

My Fundamental Transformation Concerning the Inner Self

     Being 56 years old, and having returned to college after 33 years, I have been most interested in the subject of the older, non-traditional student.  When I first started back two years ago, I even started a blog to try and make since of this most unusual event in my life.  Though I have seen older students on campus from time to time, I have rarely spoken to any of them.  Is my experience unique, or are we all going through a similar experience?  What I found surprising and discouraging, when initially looking for research on this subject, is that I didn’t find very much information.  The search words, “non-traditional student” brings up subjects such as, husband’s thoughts on supporting wives in school, students with disabilities, the needs of women returning to school, and returning immigrants and delinquents.  How discouraging.  And when I did find an article about the older student returning to school, the example they gave was of a forty-five year old, practically a child!    
     I finally found an article by Nancy Shields called, “The Link Between Student Identity, Attributions and Self-Esteem Among Adult, Returning Students”.  Really?  Self-Esteem?  Is that all we have to worry about?  Oh well, I guess it’s a start.  Personally, self-esteem hasn’t been much of an issue at this point of my life.  I just don’t give a fuck.  I do my thing.  Because at this point, I know what my thing is and it works for me.  But if I’m going to be honest with myself, I will admit that my confidence took a waver when returning to school.  All of a sudden, my footing didn’t seem so sure.  And then there was the Pandora’s Box of examining why I never got a bachelor’s degree in the first place.  Ms. Shields states, “Leaving college was conceptualized as a “failure” in the sense that the student had failed to complete a degree when previously enrolled…after a break of at least three semesters”.  Now try compounding that sense of failure after 33 years.  Maybe in this, I do give a fuck.
     I was perusing my early-day blogs while preparing to write this paper and came across this gem.  I realized that even trying to figure out if they used paper in school anymore, was making me feel unsure of myself.  I wrote, “I was going through some old boxes yesterday and found a ream of lined, notebook paper and my immediate thought was, “score, I can use this for school!”  Second immediate thought, “Do they even use lined notebook paper in school anymore?”  I have no idea.  It’s these little unknowns that make me feel so off balanced right now.”
     My curiosity about how my experience compares to others lead me to O’Shea Stone’s article on mature aged women’s reflections on returning to university studies.  She used such words as “transformation” and “self-discovery”.  She followed 18 “mature-aged students” returning to school.  She found that they had considerable self-doubt and lack of confidence.  There are those words again.  If this endeavor to rejoin higher education causes or exacerbates shaky self-esteem.  Why do we do it?  Why?
     There are many good reasons for going to school.  And there are many difficulties inherent for all students.  Ms. Stones speaks of her research subjects as meeting those challenges and in turn finding a “fundamental transformation concerning the inner self”.  As I read through my blog I can see that a similar fundamental transformation happened to me.  It was slow at first as stated in this blog.
I’m having less moments of sudden panic where my mind is racing and all I can think is, “where am I and what the hell am I doing here?”  And I am definitely less lost.  I no longer leave a building debating whether to pull out my map to see if I should turn left or right to get to my next destination.  Life is so much easier when I know which way to head.  How is that for a life analogy!

And the slow climb to self-confidence at school continues.

I was eating lunch in the SUB today and looking out the window at this beautiful campus when all of a sudden this feeling came soaking into me.  In words, the saturation went something like this, “You belong here”.  It is just occurring to me that I am no longer the interloper, the pretender, the fake. 

     I didn’t know if I could make this whole school thing work, but I tried it anyway.  I have learned much, and gained much from the trying.  Ms. Stone said, “These narratives of achievement and transformation ultimately provide inspiration to other women contemplating such a step as well as insight for academic administrators and teaching staff regarding the significant personal change this decision can engender”.  If I could encourage just one older person to return to school, if I could encourage just one professor to see their older student in a unique way, if I could show the younger students we are far more similar that different, then I am glad.  I offer my “fundamental transformation concerning the inner self” up to whomever it may benefit.   

Works Cited

“Diversity in the Graduate Student Population.” Journal of College Student
     Psychotherapy, vol. 14, no. 2, 2000, pp. 57-70., doi:10.1300/j035v14n02_07.

Fullmer, Susan L. “The Mature Student.” The Mature Student,

O’Shea, S.Stone C. “Transformations and Self-Discovery: Mature-Age Women’s Reflections on
      Returning to University Study.” Studies in Continuing Education, Routledge. Available from:
      Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Web Site:
      Http//, 30 Nov. 2010,

Shields, Nancy. “The Link between Student Identity, Attributions, and Self-Esteem among

      Adult, Returning Students.” Sociological Perspectives, vol. 38, no. 2, 1995, pp. 261-272.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Be a Mensch!

Shimon Schocken

Discussion Board post for English 201 - Non Fiction Writing

Be a Mensch!

It’s rather odd that I am choosing to write about Shimon Schocken’s, “The self-organizing computer course”.  I am so far from a computer-type-person that it’s not even funny.  I have The Zone (Boise State University's on campus IT tech support) on speed dial, and we are practically on first name basis.  So why would I write about how to build your own computer?  (The thought of which makes me shutter!)  Well, this gentleman, “had me at hello”.  “Self-learner”, “Self-study”, “self-exploration”, “self-empowerment”, “community building”, these are the gems that caught my eye. 

Long story short, he surrounds himself with brilliant, open-minded thinkers, who don’t mind failing.  Dr. Scholcken and his team came up with something they called “Nand to Tetris”, which is a free online class, with all the necessary tools to build your own computer and then write code to create games.  And this, all before anyone had heard of a MOOC (Massive Open On-line Courses).  So now, I’m writing well beyond my expertise.  Let me rein it in. 

I feel strongly that anyone can take his basic principles and apply them to life.  I love his parting statement that he found as graffiti on a wall in Tel Aviv years ago, “High tech, schmai tech, the most important thing is to be a mensch!”  (Mensch is a person of integrity and honor) He states, “In the end, it’s all about people”.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A Wide Birth

Here's a submission for English 201, Non Fiction Writing.  

A Wide Birth

I found the article, “Technology and the College Generation” by Courtney Rubin, perplexing.  First, I find it odd that so many students have difficulty figuring out their class assignments simply because they are located via email.  Am I missing something here?  How is this a thing?  Maybe it’s because as a student at Boise State University, I have been well trained to check my student email for correspondence from my professors.  The article states that, “some of them didn’t even seem to know they had a college e-mail account”, and this from a junior level class.  Again, this seems perplexing to me.

I certainly understand that students prefer social media, which is also the point of the article.  But the fact that many don’t seem to even know how to write a proper email seems bizarre.  Being older, I know that I have a different experience than most younger students.  Good Lord, I learned how to type on a typewriter (See image below for reference - if needed).  In my first round of college, I took a class where we used carbon paper (between two sheets of typing paper) to make copies of our work.  One wrong key stroke and you were starting all over again.  I remember the day when email was the oh-so-cool, new thing on the block.  Actually, it was much more than that.  We have never seen or done anything like it.  It was downright revolutionary.  And now, to think that it is antiquated!  I can’t keep up. 

But hey, I’m a modern gal.  I can use social medial just like the best of them.  But all the same, there is a place for email.  If I have a story to tell, it aint gonna happen by text.  Not even IM.  I want a keyboard and a wide birth.  And speaking of email, I thought it was interesting that Jeff Hancock on TED talks said that email is the media where people are the most honest – good enough for me.  I for one will not be giving it up.