• Ron Finnigan

Being an Undergraduate and a Senior



The following blog was originally published one year ago on on Carleton University's Learning Log website (http://learninglog.carleton.ca/2015/09/my-story-so-far/) under the title: "My Story - So Far".

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It’s been 30 years since I graduated from Ryerson. This year, after retiring in June, I decided to return to university, Carleton University to be specific, as a First Year Undergraduate. What a difference 30 years makes!

Research 30 years ago meant no Google or Wikepedia searches. Instead I became friends with Dewey Decimal which, oddly enough, you can look up on Wikepedia today. No, Dewey Decimal was not a brother of Huey and Louie. It was a library classification system broken down on index cards available in every library. You could search by author, title and subject. Having visited MacOdrum several times over the summer, Dewey’s cards are no nowhere to be found. They have been replaced with computers.

When I enrolled at Carleton earlier this year, it was strictly an electronic affair, unlike the telephone-book size catalogue I had to review for Ryerson in 1981. Yes, I know what you’re saying now. “My parents weren’t even born in 1981!”

But I managed to complete the application and registration with the superb and capable assistance of many people in the Registrar and Communications Department offices. To get my feet wet I decided to try a summer course. One course, one professor – this, I felt, would get me accustomed to a student’s routine. Initially I was scrambling to take detailed notes. I even recorded every lecture and then transcribed what the professor had said. My one-course had suddenly became a full-time job.

The second half of the course was much easier for me. I didn’t make detailed notes and I used the recordings more for a reference to check something rather than transcribing them word-for-word. In the final exam, I only used 3/4 of one testbook instead of the two booklets I used for the mid-term and finished the test with a half hour to spare.

So what has this got to do with you? Why would a fellow student who is old enough to be your grandfather have anything of interest to say to a cool, young person like yourself? Okay, here goes:

If I can do it, you can do it too. You’re not going to let some sexagenarian (that’s someone in there sixties, by the way, not someone who is over-sexed) do better than you, are you?

No matter how challenging the situation, there is always someone available to help – the trick is you have to ask for it.

Carleton is a campus for students of many different backgrounds, races, religions, etc., but not too many seniors like myself. But the minute you graduate, you are going to have to deal with older people. I know you like to hang out with your same-age buddies and feel pretty comfortable with that peer group, but here’s a chance to break out of your comfort zone and practice communicating with older people. So try this. Instead of sitting at a table in the food court, at a Tim’s or at Rooster’s that only has people your age, ask to sit at my table or another table with an older person. We don’t bite, and we’re happy to share our life experiences, as we are in hearing about yours.

Let’s do this journey together – We are the graduates of 2020!

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