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L.A. Beat

Old dogs learn new tricks : Going back to school as a senior student

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School’s back, so that means there are a variety of happenings this week. More on that later.

I’m one of the many students heading back to school this week. I’m taking a second degree in Management and New Media at the University of Lethbridge because a little education never hurt anyone, and I need to upgrade a few skills. Time management is not one of them, as I’m already an expert at that. That’s how I get to so many gigs every night. Time management and picking and choosing a little more carefully, plus an old fashioned paper and pen day timer will still allow me to cover shows and write this column for the Sun Times and stories for L.A. Beat. Though the number of them will change a little now I’m a student again.

I know most people use their phones for that. But I’m old school. I like the tactile feel of pen on paper. Besides,  you never lose your schedule because your day timer runs out of battery power or because you drop your phone in the toilet.  Only if you lose your day timer. Do people even take notes on paper anymore or is it all on computer? I don’t know anymore, but I’m excited to learn. Are there even text books any more or is everything online? One of the profs sent me his course outline and first assignment through something called Moodle and Mindtap plus whole bunch of Internet links. So I already foresee a steep learning curve.

 It‘s a little scary being an older student. I’m alternately anxious and excited to be going back. There are so many resources available that weren’t when I was going to school. I made the mistake of checking out some of my new professors on the website. Some reviews were glowing, others not so much, but I don’t want other people’s opinions to cloud my bias. I’d rather meet them in person and make up my own mind like I’d rather do about everything.
 I did learn,  to some dismay, that I am a few years older than at least a couple of my profs, which is somewhat disconcerting. Maybe they can teach an old dog new tricks. We’ll see.
A lot of my friends my age or a few years younger starting going back to school last year so I figured if they can do it with kids and abusive exes and jobs and worldly troubles, then why can’t I? They’ve inspired me. I lead a charmed life.

We’ll see and that’s the point. You should never stop learning.

I’ve always enjoyed the learning process. I’m pretty familiar with the campus already, having my radio shows on CKXU 88.3 f.m. The new course schedule means my show Disco Sucks Punkin Old School is moved to 10 -midnight on Wednesdays now. The Hotrock Blues Beat remains 8-10 p.m. on Saturdays. And I’m always on campus covering drama and whatnot. I’ve organized my schedule to have mornings free to work, interview, write and attend press conferences. It was a luxury I don’t recall having the first time round.

 I even shaved off my beard, so I’ll be clean shaven like I was the first time round.
 The first time round, I learned it was really important to get involved with clubs and activities on campus because a social life apart from school is an important part of the university and college experience.

You can find kindred spirits with similar interests in different clubs all over campus, discover bands you never heard of and maybe even find skills you never even thought you had. During the first week, there is a big club fair in U-Hall atrium with all of the clubs setting up booths explaining what they are all about. I encourage new students to check it out and get involved. There is a club for everybody with every conceivable interest, likely even more now. The first time round I discovered the school newspaper the Meliorist and CKUL, the radio station.

I also learned that it is important to balance outside interests with course work. The first time round, I got my best marks in my first year and they went pretty much downhill from there once I spent more time in CKUL and the Meliorist than in class and doing homework. I’m smarter this time round. Hopefully.

This time I’m doing this on my own with no parental help. If I fail, it’s on me. There’s nobody else to blame. So in a way, the second degree is really a do-over and I’ll see where it goes. Something will come of it.
The university and college experience should be the best time of your life. It is an opportunity get out of your comfort zone, to meet new people, learn new things and discover new interests and maybe even discover new skills you never thought you had, all the while hopefully while getting a degree that will lead to employment and money. Take advantage of it.  
So I am excited to go back, though it will be quite a learning curve.

 A version of this story appears in the Sept.4, 2019 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times/Shopper

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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