In April 2020, about nine months after starting school, I launched a series here called Musings of a Middle-Aged College Student, of which this is the final post. I'd decided that I wanted a chronicle of my courses and my opinions about my experiences, and I thought that it might be helpful to others. I've heard from a few people so far. The reception has been positive, despite the rather large gap between the recaps in the fall of 2020. You can guess why I went months without a recap; it's no mystery.
I turned in my final work at the end of April, attended my virtual graduation ceremony in May, and then I promptly took about five months off from anything school-related. As I write this on November 28, 2021, I feel a little bittersweet about the whole thing now.
SNHU was too interesting, too much fun. It was wonderful and frustrating. I didn't really want it to end.
Statistics and Whatever the Opposite of Statistics Is
My time at SNHU commenced on Monday, July 1, 2019, and ended on April 25, 2021 (officially) for a total time of 665 days. This relatively short amount of time was made possible thanks to my transfer credits, and could have been shorter had I doubled up each term (but I'm glad I didn't).
I took 18 classes over 11 terms.
The lowest grade for any course was 97.4%. The highest course grade was 100% (for HUM-200, LIT-200, ENG-350, and IDS-404).
There was a 19th class that I haven't mentioned and didn't bother to recap. Sophia.org in 2020 offered free classes that were eligible to transfer for credit at SNHU. The only one they had that was useful to me was Public Speaking, the equivalent of COM-212. It was also an 8-week term, but I blasted through it in half the time because it wasn't time-sensitive.
Final GPA: 4.0
I made the President's List every term that I was eligible to do so.
It was five terms before I got a grade under an A on any assignment (week six in LIT-229—got a B on a journal).
Favorite Course: It's a tie between the three fiction writing workshops, but in reverse chronological order within that tie (ENG-359 > ENG-349 > ENG-329).
Least Favorite Course: MAT-125 and it's not even close. I should have tried to get out of it somehow because I didn't need a college math course to teach me what a triangle is.
Advice for Prospective Students
Each of my course recaps has a section of advice specific to that course; here, I will offer broader tips for anyone thinking of enrolling at SNHU.
Don't be nervous. This is especially salient if you're going back to school (or going for the first time) as an older student. You've experienced life. Your head is in a different place than it was the last time you were in school. Most importantly, you are choosing to pursue an interest on your terms. The odds do not simply lean in your favor, they overwhelmingly support you.
Ask questions. You will not understand the process until you've done it. Aspects of the curriculum and the software are not intuitive. Fumble around, learn by doing, but ask questions liberally.
You're there to learn, so learn. Open yourself up to everything thrown at you. You may not agree with certain perspectives, some perspectives may not be relevant, but such is life. A student in LIT-450 refused to read To Kill a Mockingbird. I still wonder what happened to her.
Manage your expectations. Some degree programs lead to six-figure positions, others do not; even the lucrative industries can become glutted, driving down prospects. Use statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to research the career you desire.
Solidify your support system. Your friends and family need to respect your decision to pursue an education. Don't spend time or energy worrying about those who don't. Find your supporters and lean on them; it might be that your fellow students become your support system. Nothing wrong with that.
Time management is vital. I've said elsewhere, and I stand by it still, that 80% of success in both school and life comes from proper time management. Your talent, skill, dedication, drive, and all the other things they make motivation posters about can take you far. Without time management, none of it matters.
Enjoy yourself. The decision to pursue higher education is a big one. If you're not excited by it, if you're not looking forward to the next class, you may have a problem. Perhaps you're in the wrong degree program. Perhaps your support system isn't as supportive as it needs to be. But maybe all you need is a different perspective. Talk to other students, talk to professors. The work will be, at times, difficult. Not every course will be up your alley. But, on the whole, if you aren't enjoying yourself, something needs to change.
What I've Been Doing Since
I would like to say that upon graduation I secured a writing gig with a major publisher and I'm now a world-famous writer. I'd like to say that… but I managed my expectations. My expectation was never to graduate with an English degree and then quit my job for something writing-related. I knew at the start, and I was quite correct, that my education was about long-term prospects. Being a writer, especially a writer of fiction, has never been a fast or easy career path.
After graduation, I gave more to my day job, which hadn't been receiving my full attention while I studied. My wife and kids have seen more of me. I breathed in, I breathed out.
Since graduating from SNHU I've written, submitted to a contest or two, and most importantly, I've planned. Novelists don't get very far without a plan, after all. No, I will not share that plan here. I learned ages ago not to announce anything that isn't immediately forthcoming. The planning is going well. The writing is even better. I'll have much to share in 2022 and beyond.
I got exactly what I wanted out of my time as a middle-aged college student. I don't regret a moment.