COLUMN: Juggling senioritis with arthritis

A survival guide for the seniorest: seniors struggling to fit

Traditionally speaking, the word, “student,” is used to describe a younger person.

That’s why students older than 24 years are typically described as “nontraditional.” This was the case for the longest time, and nontraditional students were somewhat of a rarity — perhaps a handful per college campus. I have zero data to back that statement up.

Nowadays it’s typical to see several nontraditional students per classroom, especially junior and senior level classes. Many nontraditional students are returning students, having taken prolonged time to raise a family, serve in the military, or I don’t know, follow the Grateful Dead on tour or something.

So it’s fair to say Ferris has its share of Golden Oldies bright-eyed and ready to learn. I can attest. I am one of them.

I joined Ferris in 2010, already at the age of 23. Nearly 10 years on, after multiple spells off working and raising my young son, I’ve learned several vital tips in being the “old man/woman on campus.” These tips are important for such students as they aid in surviving the constant bombardment of Gen-Z anarchy some might consider overwhelming,

So, if you’re between 17 and 24 and still a bit wet behind the years, feel free to read on and be entertained. But if you’re like me, and a bit gray behind the ears, this is especially for you.

1. Be yourself.

For the longest time, it was easy for me to blend with my fellow students. Into my late twenties, I looked and acted younger, so nobody expected otherwise. By now I realize how detached I am with the younger crowd, and have put away any delusion of trying to act “hip” or “with it.”

Nobody will bat an eye if you make a comment about the latest Cardi B track, or use modern slang words such as “swag,” “yeet,” or “esketit.” But if you come off sounding like a phony or a tryhard, your younger peers will quickly see through the facade and alienate you. And everybody knows college students are good at sensing weakness, and will often kill and eat the weakest.

So dress the way you would normally, act professional, be kind and friendly to your classmates — and that leads me to my next point.

2. You’re older, not better.

We get it. You remember the Apollo moon landing. A person’s date of birth is not a measure of superiority. It took you zero talent or tenacity to get where you are. All it took was time.

It’s 2019. Many incoming students were born AFTER 9/11. Just because you watched the attacks on television doesn’t give you some sort of hero experience. You may have more experiences than your classmates, but they’re different experiences. Don’t belittle others for not having watched “Goonies” in the cinema.

3. Leave the smokes at home.

Yeah, vaping is weird. You suck on what looks like a pencil sharpener. You have a choice of 15,000 flavors and they all smell like cotton candy. You don’t have to conform to this bizarre trend, but please, don’t hang outside FLITE blowing smoke rings in the face of pregnant students. Don’t leave the spent butts hanging in the flower beds. And please don’t spit dip wads on the sidewalk. Folks in flip-flops will thank you.

This younger generation is surprisingly smoke-free, comparatively speaking. A great way to show your stubbornness with change is by smoking or spitting chew on campus. Do what I do. Chew Nicorette to cease the cravings.

This message was not paid for or authorized by Nicorette.

4. Don’t call everybody millennials.

The media likes to pick on millennials, whether its perceived laziness, recklessness or undeserved entitlement. But guess what? Not everybody younger than you is a millennial. You might be a millennial yourself. Millennials typically describe people born between 1980 and 1996. The sources differ on the exact dates, but regardless, most students were born after this period. They don’t have a proper name yet, but are typically called Generation Z.

So when you say, “You rotten lazy millennials with your fandangled Angry Birds and Netflix dates,” you’re not just being a dick. You’re wrong.

5. Get some sleep.

Pulling all-nighters, I discovered, was a great way to study or hammer out a research paper the night before it was due. That’s changed with the years. I’m lucky now if I can pull off an all-dayer. So don’t assume you can do now what you did then. Finish your work early.

Also, hangovers are worse for us than this fresh-faced mob. Don’t try to keep up drink-for-drink.

And lastly,

6. Enjoy the experience.

You’re part of a lucky bunch. You’ve received a second chance to relive lost youth and attain skills and experiences you would have otherwise missed completely. Yeah, you’re probably here for job training. You probably have a family at home. You might work part time, or even full time, and generally lack time in general.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or enjoy yourself. Join a club that meets an hour a week. Grab a coffee with a classmate or professor. Attend a Bulldogs ballgame now and again. Hit the Rec Centre.

Most importantly, do not believe that because you are older you do not belong here, or deserve any of the same benefits as the younger students. You paid your tuition like anybody else, you are entitled to the same exact experience whether you were born in 1997, 1979 or 1799. You’re not the odd one out of the bunch. You’re a growing demographic. You’re 100% Bulldog.

Get lit, fam.