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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Older students offer wealth of knowledge

    “”Never judge a book by its cover.””

    It’s important to abide by this principle, which is easier said than done. Everyone will make the mistake of disregarding this suggestion, and there are many ways to do it. I’ve always believed that physical appearances aren’t important as long as one is confident and happy, but I have made unfair assumptions and passed judgment on others without knowing anything about them, as shown in my Sept. 16 article “”Older UA students elicit mixed emotion.””

    I wrote then that I felt older students tended to speak up more frequently in large lectures, and that traditional students often found this frustrating and bothersome. Because of the nature of the huge classroom setting, I had minimal contact with any older students, so I crafted my article based on limited personal observations and countless comments from others. This semester, I’ve had the privilege of taking smaller-sized classes and I’ve befriended three non-traditional older students. From these friendships, I realized it was wrong to make bold statements about a group of people I knew very little about.

    Many have approached me and mentioned that they privately agree with the content of my first article, and they have a right to their opinion, but they can really learn from older students, as I have in recent months. As students at such a big school, it’s easy to get caught up in the university culture and only interact with people of the same age groups, most of who do not work full-time, have children or pay for tuition and room and board. They haven’t faced their quarter-life crisis yet, so college life can seem perfect, even though it really isn’t.

    Even students who love their idealistic lives need to escape from themselves sometimes, and they can do this by broadening their social network and getting to know older students who have a more experienced perspective on life than a 20-year-old student. The change of pace is refreshing, and many would be surprised to see how much they may actually have in common with someone much older.

    Unlike the majority of college-aged

    students, older students can relate to the loss of a parent. Anyone who hasn’t been through this experience does not know what it’s like, so they aren’t as helpful as someone who has faced the same loss. With more life experience, older students can understand, share their feelings and be supportive of students who have prematurely lost one or both of their parents.

    As someone who does not identify with the party scenes at the UA, I enjoy having meaningful conversations with my older friends. They aren’t worried about getting into fraternity parties or taking Adderall just to finish an assignment, and they comfort me when they say the best of us grow out of irresponsible behavior with age.

    One older friend hated my previous article, which was published before we were friends, but he didn’t assume I wasn’t worth getting to know. It takes a mature, wise person to violently disagree with another without throwing him under the bus. It’s safe to say age can provide a person with this virtue.

    You can challenge my sincerity or sarcastically congratulate me on recovering from gerontophobia, which a Mailbag writer disparagingly diagnosed me with. In all seriousness, I really think that students can benefit from the older community, especially if they have trouble relating to people their own age.

    The lesson I’ve learned here is know someone before judging them.

    “”Well, obviously, you moron,”” you may be thinking, but everyone regresses even after a specific lesson has been drilled into their heads since pre-school. Those who have labeled me a bigot and a brat based on one article are also guilty of jumping to conclusions about strangers.

    I’m not seeking approval or even apologizing, but I regret speaking before knowing, and as effortless as it is to belittle me for this mistake, everyone is at fault of doing this at some point, so learn from my faux pas and don’t assume anything about anyone. Strike up a conversation with a non-traditional student and you’ll gain something you can’t find with most classmates. You never know who may end up being a great friend.


    -ÿLaura Donovan is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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