The Average College Student

Likes: Tweeting, spending recklessly, and escaping adulthood.

So there’s a middle-aged man in my Geographic Information Systems class who pays the most attention out of all of us. He talks to the TA every week about his specialized curriculum, and I always see him pulling up pictures of his five-year-old daughter on his laptop during lecture and lab.

And there’s an elderly man in my Statistics class who prefaced his entrance on the first day of class by saying, “No, I’m not the professor” before taking a seat behind me. He’s back here for another degree because his first one wasn’t able to get him a job, but at least he’s reached the age where he’s never embarrassed to ask a question or mock the education system.

And there’s a girl in my Foreign Diplomacy class who lives a metro stop away from campus and works 20 metro stops away. She’s studied across the globe in Indonesia and worked at a plethora of labs. She has a heavy accent, but I understand her perfectly, unlike our professor. She’s terrified of our partner presentation because not only does she have to know her shit — she has to know it in her non-native tongue.

And there’s a friend who sits next to me on the bus ride home from class, who’s graduating a year and a half early to work across the country in Seattle. He’s commutes to campus for financial reasons, and just wants to start his job already because he feels like he’s wasting his time and money here.

These are the outsiders. The people who, for whatever reason, didn’t end up in a cush, traditional life where they were in a dorm room by the age of 18. The commendable souls who could care less about roommate drama or That Party on Friday, who didn’t even get the chance to do so.

And 16 years ago, there was me and my dad, a four-year-old girl and a middle-aged man, eating instant-ramen in the community college cafeteria because he was raising me while getting his degree. So, I went to preschool in the morning, and college in the afternoon, sitting quietly in the back of his class smuggling Lucky Charms to his two friends while he worked his ass off in school.

We were the outsiders. And now that I’m back in college as a student, I feel more connected to the adults, the commuters, the people studying for their families and sleeping in the library because home is far away. We’ll talk about the safest places on campus to nap, how to properly put our bikes onto the front of the buses, which community college they transferred from, and how quickly they need a job. And we always talk about our families.

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