Volume 50, Issue 4: Editor’s Desk
Carlo Javier // Editor-in-Chief
“No, I already graduated, and you can live through anything if Magic made it. “ – Kanye West
On my first regular school day at Capilano University, I asked the student beside me a seemingly innocuous question that was met with raised eyebrows, a snicker and if I remember correctly, a “Gosh, no.”
I had no idea that asking someone if they were in first year would be met with such repulsion.
Poor 18-year-old me was taken aback and embarrassed. I only heard other students asking one another about their programs and years of study, so I had thought it was simply university norm – it was my first day.
As it turned out, that became the last day for a while where I consciously made attempts at socializing in classrooms. Not until about a year and a half later, when the eminent Michael Markwick asked, “can I push you on that?” did I start to feel comfortable in classrooms again.
I went to a multicultural high school in Coquitlam. Coming into CapU, I was fairly con dent that my experiences in a diverse environment would translate well into post-secondary. What I was not ready for was another layer of diversity: age. I don’t think everyone else was either. In my time as a student, I’ve had younger classmates who were particularly averse to working with their older counterparts. They assumed mature students to be awkward, to be technologically inept and to be behind in social and pop culture acumen.
Yet the same principles ring true with some of the older students I’ve met and worked with. Some of the misconceptions I’ve heard and encountered include the immediate thought that anyone younger and less experienced is unqualified to lead projects, that they’re immature and that they really don’t know anything.
I know a student who once uttered, “fucking kids!” after a younger student had accidentally spilled his coffee. Granted, the spill did nearly take a laptop as a casualty, so, I might’ve said something along the same line myself.
I know a younger student who tried their darnedest to avoid having to work with older people in a group project. Believing the age gap will simply be a hindrance towards an A.
This week, I got an eye-opening opportunity to write a feature about mature students. While anyone over the age of 20 who lacks minimum program requirements can qualify for a mature student status, in speaking terms, we tend to use mature students to refer to older classmates – essentially students from a different generation.
In my conversations with my interviews, what truly floored me was not the pleasant news about how a sense of belonging is not a problem, it was not about how ageist discrimination happens less than you might assume – it was about sympathy. They were incredibly sympathetic to their younger counterparts, citing the unbelievable pressure that younger students face today. Pressure from academics, from socioeconomic factors, from parents and even from the very real fears of having to pause or indefinitely leave school.
The sympathy and understanding I saw ultimately had me wondering if this type of feeling exists for the rest of us, too. Younger students could very well be caught up in assuming that their older cohorts are just privileged enough that they can afford to take courses for the sake of learning and discourse. What might get lost in the conversation is that for many older students, the opportunity to go to school just did not manifest itself earlier in their lives.
Having graduated this past June, I now exist in the limbo of student-life: young enough to pursue a Master’s Degree, and experienced enough to truly get into the real workforce. While that decision is yet to be finalized, the one nugget of truth exists: learning has neither the age requirement nor the age limit.