Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Hannah Majewski, a MLIS candidate at the University of South Carolina.
My name is Hannah Majewski and I attend the University of SC and will graduate with my MLIS in spring 2015. I am a ‘late starter’ student, that is I started when I was 43 years old after finally realizing that working in a library was what I really wanted to do! I don’t really have a specific interest, I just want to work in a library. However, I am mostly taking children’s literature and programming so I really am gearing more towards children and hopefully showing them a love of reading. It was because of my two girls that I got so involved in the library and I guess that’s what was the catalyst to me entering library school! I work full time, have 2 young children (11 & 5), volunteer as a tutor at a local low-income school and volunteer at my children’s school whenever possible. I am also a part-time graduate assistant for my professor at the MLIS school.
When I first decided I wanted to go back to college for my MLIS, I had a lot of doubt in my ability to do the coursework successfully. After all, I worked fulltime, had 2 young children who at that time were ages 2 ½ and 9 ½, I had just lost both my parents in that same year within 6 months of each other and still reeling from that shock and busy with extracurricular activities involving my daughter’s school and church. Where in the world would I find time to go to school? And why did all of a sudden this decision to go back to school pop into my head? I didn’t think I would ever step foot on a college campus again after undergrad.
I talked with my husband, friends and co-workers who encouraged me to apply. After all, many of them had a Master’s or were wanting to go back as well. I still had doubts. I finally worked up my courage to contact the Director of Student Services (DSS) and set up a meeting to talk with her regarding my fears of starting school with my busy schedule and another big factor – my age. I was 43. Who in the world went back to grad school at such an advanced age?? And, could I handle the new technology that the school used? In undergrad, we actually had to wait for papers to be handed back to us to see what our grade was or either wait until report cards were issued. Now students and teachers communicated via email and classes were held online – no more trying to fight for a parking space and get to class by a certain time. Classes were recorded and students could view them at their leisure. Asynchronous versus synchronous classes – wish that concept had been around during undergrad.
The DSS assured me during our meeting that I would be fine and that a lot of students came back who were now “older” and realized what they really wanted to do in life. Still, I had my doubts. Thanks to her, though, she literally had me sit in her chair and we registered for my first class together. “See, that was easy!” I remember her saying. Yes, but that was because she was there with me as I registered. My immediate thought was if I could do all this other technological stuff by myself once classes start?
Classes began and I timidly started to work my way back into being a student – although this time I was a “graduate” student. Somehow after that thought slowly sank in, I never really thought much about my age being a factor. My classes included students of various ages. The ‘younger’ students accepted me, and did not begrudge the fact that I was older. As a matter of fact, the younger students seemed to appreciate my willingness to share my outside world experiences. Thankfully my first class was a success, and I felt the confidence to move forward to the next semester.
Now, here I am in my next-to-last semester, and will graduate in spring 2015. Not only have I found time to double up on classes during several semesters, I’ve also been working part-time as a Graduate Assistant (GA) to one of my professors and have loved every minute of it. Everything has fallen into the right place in regards to taking classes, working as a GA, and soon working as an intern in a public library in the spring.
It’s funny that I look back and was worried that I wouldn’t have time to invest in additional schooling that could potentially change my life. My life is more complete now that I’ve made new friends and met a wonderful faculty of professors who want to help and are excited to see their students succeed. I’m no longer that doubtful person from 3 years ago. Graduate school has opened new doors of helping me become a better person not only for myself but for my children who have seen my hard work and who proudly tell their teachers at school “My mommy graduates next year and she’s made all A’s!”