This week has got me thinking a lot about age. With one eye on the future post-GGU, I found myself on the campus of another university this week and it was delightful. Great facilities, well laid out location and a terrific PhD program. The one drawback? I felt old. Almost all the other students I encountered were significantly younger than me, as they would be at most campuses at most universities across the country and the world. There’s nothing unusual in that. But it still got me thinking…..
Career changes in later life are becoming more frequent. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports that Americans change jobs between 10-15 times in their lives and although there is a paucity of information about career changes – primarily due to the difficulty of defining a “career” – it is clear that increasing numbers of people are changing paths throughout the course of their working lives. The “job for life” mentality that so many of our parents experienced is rarely an option any more. People are more mobile, flexible and understand that they have choices. I was a lawyer, working for a terrific and supportive firm, but it just wasn’t for me. And that’s OK. If we’re not happy, or believe there’s a path that’s better suited to us, then we need to consider our options. It may take time, planning, family support and a little dash of courage, but there’s usually a way to make it happen.
And this is the story of so many students at GGU. With an average age well into their thirties, it struck me how lucky we are to study in an environment as diverse and inclusive as that of Golden Gate. I have never felt ‘old’ here or out of place. My experience is that all students, regardless of age, treat each other as equals both inside and outside class. Indeed, my ‘closest’ friends here have tended to be significantly younger, but it’s just never been an issue. We like the same things, enjoy the same conversations, struggle over the same homework and laugh at the same jokes. Age is not important. What matters are the commonalities that you find in a friend and with GGU’s student population, rich in nationality, age, gender and background, there’s no better place to appreciate this. I realize this week how truly fortunate I have been to come here, not just in terms of what I’ve learned academically, and the friends I’ve made for life, but also to understand that who we are is no barrier to success if we’re in a supportive and diverse environment.
Will I be applying to this new university? Definitely. Will they take me? That’s up to them. But thanks to GGU, I have the confidence to know that my age is no deterrent to embarking on this new adventure. I know everything’s going to be OK.