I asked my work study assistant, Lisa, to write her thoughts about returning to school after a long break and, in particular, how she is doing in her math classes. I asked her to focus on math because it can be such a stumbling block for all students, especially those who have been away from it for a long time.
Her thoughts are below. She also talks about her attitude towards the label “non-traditional” as a description of students who are “older” than the traditional age student.
I’ve been out of the school system for approximately 22 yrs. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to further my education; it was due to the fact that I was a single mother. Raising my son was my number one priority during those 22 years, and I didn’t want to “take away” from my son the benefits of having his mother there for him, when he needed me the most.
Upon re-entering the school environment, I found things to be a lot different than I remember them to be. To begin with, I was labeled as a “non-traditional” student, which I personally find to be another of society’s forms of “labeling.” With today’s society having to “label” individuals, I find it unnecessary and unneeded. With all the issues in society, “labeling” an individual, for whatever reason, not only adds to them, and also gives reason for the younger generations to feed into society’s negative concepts.
After my initial shock of being “labeled”, and after filling out the necessary forms and information to pay for my tuition and books, I did my placement assessment as required by the college. It was then that I learned that I had placed substantially low in my math placement test score. This was very surprising to me, as math was my best subject in high school. Not to mention that in the 22 years that I had held a job in a supervisory position, I had continually used math in my job requirements. So, per the requirements of the college, I enrolled in a self-paced math module, so that I could relearn the math that apparently I had forgotten over the years. Anxiously, I began attending the class where with some great assistance from my teacher, I refreshed my knowledge of the math that I haven’t been using throughout the years.
Thanks to the patience and guidance of the teacher, the math that I had forgotten so long ago, continuously came flooding back with great understanding. I still struggle with some math problems and concepts, but I am regaining the understanding of it. With the assistance of several supports here at the college including math tutoring, the TRIO program, and extra help from my teacher, I know that I’ll succeed and eventually have the full understanding of the required math for the college so that I may complete my degree. I would sincerely like to thank Peggy Williams for her outstanding assistance and extra help in the understanding of the concepts of math.
Sometimes it is hard for society, the community, and even the college to understand that the people who wait numerous years to continue their education aren’t lazy individuals. They’re people that have different priorities in life to deal with at the time- whether it is raising children, lack of money to pay for college or even health. Whatever the reasons may be, “non-traditional” students may need the extra assistance to regain any or all information, including math, which they may have forgotten or “lost” over those years. It doesn’t matter the age of an individual when entering college, what matters is the goals that they have set for themselves in order to be a productive member of society.