Not Yo’ Mama’s College Experience

“Totally Tubular!”

I cracked up laughing, trying to envision my 49-year-old mom as a twenty-something. A college student in the mid 80s, she confessed to having Michael Jackson posters on her wall, wearing bright, neon colors (the more the better!), and using the word “like” as much as a Clueless student from Beverly Hills High.

She wasn’t much different than many college students I see today. She giggled with her friends while “trying” to study. She fell for a charming guy who she hated at first for his penchant to seek attention (love you, daddy). She was hard on herself when she didn’t do well in her studies, and she worked the graveyard shift at Domino’s, hoping her friends would call in pizzas they “forgot” to pick up so they could get a free meal.

Many college students from the 80s are now our parents, bosses, mentors, pastors, and professors. And many of them have told us what college and post-grad life will be like.

“Don’t be in such a hurry to graduate. Life after college is so much worse.”

“If you thought you were busy in college, you’re really going to have a hard time after college. Life only gets busier.”

“College will be the best years of your life.”

I think most college students are aware that life after college isn’t going to be easy, breezy, beautiful Covergirl. But I also think it’s dangerous to say and believe these comments.

Ageism can be masked in something as small as this. Telling those younger than you what their life is or will be before getting to know their story can serve to belittle a journey, or even stop one from happening. Listening to these comments can discourage you and keep you from living the life you want to pursue.

If you learn anything from this experience, learn this: This isn’t your mama’s college experience. It’s not your mama’s postgrad experience. College is what you make out of it.

Don’t neglect wisdom from others, both older and younger than you, but understand that everything is different when applied to your life and your circumstances. Find encouragement in the fact that you may not be this busy, this doubtful, this afraid after college if you take the steps to get there.

In college, my mom had a lot of different things to think about, whereas after college, she had permission to be more focused. I found time to speak to her this morning, and her last word to me is something she was able to experience after her busy 80s college life, and something that I hope for each and every one of you during college and after.

“Clarity.”