Returning to College as a Non-Traditional Student


Honestly, it started as a whim during a long, quiet evening at work. I filled out an application to the local community college, then filled out a FAFSA application, and within about a week, had pointed myself to an English degree. Between previous college credits and life experience, I’ve managed to cut the time I’ll need to complete the first two years of this degree in half, which is exciting. 

This is a two-year college, so the end goal is that I’ll transfer somewhere – and that also looks appealing. I am not a snow and cold weather person, so I much more so enjoy spring, summer and fall where we live. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to be outside so much due to massive wildfires. I’m talking smoke so bad we’re in N95 masks to go grocery shopping or water the garden. Hiking is out of the question, or even hanging out outside for extended periods of time. This is apparently our new normal, but quite honestly, I can’t live like this. 

The reality is that we all have to start living differently, and I am very much so willing to do that, but in the meantime, I need fresh air and time outside and healthy lungs and not feeling like I’m living the apocalypse. It’s terrifying enough trying to raise a child I’ve brought into seeming end times. 

For the moment, however, I’ve only got a couple of days before I actually start school again, and I’m going full-time, so I’ll be burying myself in statistics, social psychology, humanities and multicultural communication. I hope I can think straight, as this smoky air has a profound and exhausting effect on us all, but I’m excited about my class load this semester (well, except for statistics, anyway – I’ll be moving into the math lab until I’m done with it).

My availability will be shortened, and so for the moment I am only considering very small projects. And also, I’m trying to make the most of this hazy, lazy smoky time to get in some good reading – it’s important for us writers to do that, which also explains my absence from Medium recently (I’m stocking up on new inspiration). NetGalley has sent some real gems my way recently, like this one from one of my favorite authors ever, Alexander Chee.

This latest collection of non-fiction essays he’s published is exquisite, inspiring and eye-opening. 

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: EssaysHow to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays by Alexander Chee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Queen of the Night (also obtained via NetGalley), cemented Alexander Chee as one of my favorite writers, ever, within about 10 pages. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is, indeed, an autobiographical novel, and now Alexander Chee is one of my top three favorite writers, ever.

A series of connected essays, this isn’t just an autobiographical novel from a writer I love, it’s one of those addictive writers-on-writing books that writers who love these kinds of books should have in their collection.

After having just read a really lackluster page-turner of the sort that will eventually wind up being sold at Dollar Tree in that messy isle with the coloring books, this has been a refreshing change of pace and a reminder that literature might possibly still have a chance in this world if writers like this keep writing.

(Full disclosure: I’m going back to school for creative writing, starting next week, and I’d give the rest of my teeth to attend one of Alexander’s classes). Check out my latest reviews on Goodreads.

View all my reviews

Going Back to School: I’m Returning to College!

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