This Thanksgiving, I've been thinking a lot about a student of mine who confided in me last week. I'm not always comfortable writing about students, but I can't get her out of my mind. Briefly:
- she's going through a custody battle with her ex, which she has been on the losing side of for some time, but in which she may eventually prevail.
- she's married to a guy who just lost his job.
- because of the two circumstances above, she can't afford her books--or her meds.
- she has ADD and a host of similar challenges, but is still keeping up in class.
- and there's a bunch of other nasty stuff going on, too.
I really enjoy working with "older" undergraduates (she's a bit older than I am). They often have terrific perspective and amazing tenacity. But sometimes I need to be reminded just how difficult it can be to be in your 30s (or 40s or 50s) and be an undergrad. I find I'm more lenient about deadlines with these students because of their special challenges. Is that unfair?
I'm thankful that I have students who demonstrate such strength, and I'm thankful that I was privileged enough to attend college from age 18-22 while I still had the energy and focus to do so. I can't imagine being an undergrad who's married and has a kid, let alone the host of other difficulties that have usually delayed college for older students.