I'm finally here at Smith, the college of my dreams. It wasn't much of
a culture shock coming here, but there are some interesting
differences. One of these is that in almost all of my classes there
are middle-aged women as well as teenage girls. Some of these women
are downright elderly. "What the heck?" you say. Here's why: Smith
has this this nifty program that lets "non-traditional aged women"
take classes at Smith. They're called Ada Comstock scholars, or Adas.
I've got Adas in every class except Computer Science (which is too
bad, really), and the funny thing is, it's not weird at all. It's
really interesting to hear their perspective on what we've read or
discussed, and they bring a heck of a lot more experience to the table
than we kids do.
There's one woman in my Calc class named Linda, and the first day I switched into the class, we paired off (we were using the computers and there weren't enough to go around). After class, we both had a break, so we stayed to work on the homework. We got to talking, and it turns out we have a lot of similar interests. She's a really neat lady. And having older women in my classes puts us on the same plane, makes us equals. It's neat to be treated as an equal by a full-fledged adult; being at the same point in our education gives us sort of equal standing with each other.
In my religion class, which is almost like a combination English, psychology, philosophy, and world religion class, we break into discussion groups every Thursday. There are two or three Adas in my discussion, which makes the conversation really interesting - having grown up in a different generation, and being at a different stage of life, their brains work differently than those of us young, freshly trained kids. They think of things we wouldn't have, and since they're practically the same age as the professor, they're never afraid to speak up. It's amusing to watch them interact with him, because age- wise they're contemporaries, but at the same time they're teacher and students.
Well, I've babbled for long enough about the merits of the Ada program. You can see that I'm in love with Smith, but not just because of the big things, like the beautiful campus, the awesome classes, students, and professors, and the easy access to town; it's also because Smith gives me the opportunity to bond with people who see the world from a vastly different perspective, be they Adas or otherwise. It certainly makes the learning process more interesting than it might otherwise have been. And hey, that's what college is for.