Kermit the Frog used to say, “It’s not easy being green.” I would change that to, “It’s not easy being a white haired older woman on campus.”
I wrote about my experience starting college at the age of sixty-two in an article called Baby Boomer on Campus. While I struggled with finding my way and becoming part of the community at College of Charleston, I eventually felt at home on campus.
After three years at College of Charleston, my family moved to the upstate of South Carolina. To afford to attend college, I live with my daughter and son in law, so I packed up moved to Anderson, SC.
I applied as a transfer student to Clemson University and was accepted. I have always been a Clemson football fan but never dreamed I would become a student. Clemson University is significantly more difficult to get into: 51.3% vs. 77.1% acceptance rate.
There are many differences between Clemson and the College of Charleston. Let’s begin with size. Clemson’s student body is made up of approximately 22,698 vs. 11,531 at College of Charleston.
Then there is the size of the campus. The main campus of Clemson campus sits on 1,400 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, along the shores of Lake Hartwell. They even have a beach on the lake. College of Charleston sits on 52 acres in the heart of downtown Charleston, SC.
Clemson campus is filled with walking obstacles that include hills and stairs everywhere. College of Charleston campus obstacles come from the uneven brick walkways. Everyone takes a fall eventually.
One of the big differences is football. College of Charleston brags that they are undefeated in college football. While it is true, it is only true because College of Charleston doesn’t have a football team. What Clemson has, on the other hand, is the 2016 National College Football Champion. Go Tigers!
So far, I haven’t found many differences in class sizes, or professors, etc. The homework load is heavy, but I am assuming that is because I am not taking 300 and 400 level classes as opposed to the 100 level when I began. Clemson has an amazing suite of software available to students that includes the entire Adobe systems including Lightroom, etc.
The students and professors at Clemson seem to be accepting having an older, white haired student. I have met a few students that seem interested in getting to know me already. As with College of Charleston, I don’t ever intend to hang out on weekends with my classmates, unless it is at a sporting event.
I am still in my first week at Clemson but I can assure you that it is already intense. Clemson offers many ways for new students to acclimate.
I have a Welcome Group with a mentor. I have another mentor for a program called “First” for first generation college student. (My mother only finished 8th grade, my father did complete high school, my grandmother only finished 8th grade and my grandfather left school at sixteen.
No one in my immediate family has finished college, in fact, most never attended at all. I have an academic advisor, a department advisor for my major and my minor.
I loved my time at College of Charleston. I cherish my memories of classes, professors, and students. I even have a class ring from CofC. I am beginning my journey with Clemson, and hope to graduate in Dec. 2018. I feel privileged to have two Alma Maters.
It is difficult to start a new school, a new job, church, or community. Being the new person without any history or relationships can be a lonely feeling. I just remind myself that everyone was new at one time.
This time next year, I won’t be the Baby Boomer on campus. I will just be Cathy, another classmate or student. Until then, if you see me walking around campus, stop and say hello!