Justin Tysdale: Why did you decide to go back to school?
Susan Kirby: I had a 20-year career with the federal government doing computer support, so I decided to try for my second career.
Tysdale: Do you have a family?
Kirby: I have two sons, 17 and 13 (years old). For me, my children are my priority. It’s hard to juggle; I’m a mom first and a student second, which I think is the opposite for a lot of people here.
Tysdale: What do (your sons) think about you going back to college?
Kirby: They are kind of indifferent about it. My 17-year-old will be attending here next year. It will be funny to run into him on campus.
Tysdale: Have you felt you’ve experienced college life in the same way as other students?
Kirby: I was a little surprised and delighted that students tend to not focus on the fact that I’m older. I have relationships in the classroom, no matter what (students’) ages are, but I think the friendships that I’ll make (will) only last the duration of the course.
Tysdale: Semester-long friends?
Kirby: Yes, I see people on campus and we wave, but there isn’t a lot of social interaction beyond the typical semester. I think it’s nice though. Here on this campus, I see so many other older students as well. There are very few classes that I have where I’m the only, what they call, lifespan and non-traditional, student.
Tysdale: What is a lifespan student?
Kirby: Well, I took college courses when I was 18. I was doing it on a part-time basis and I had already started working for the federal government, so I think that’s what lifespan refers to – people who take these courses here and there over a period of time.
Tysdale: Do you have any suggestions for people going back to school?
Kirby: I found that going back has sparked my mind, like I woke up a little. I’ve learned so much that I didn’t know; I understand my classes in a different way, a way that relates to me now.