Tag Archives: back to school

Age, Sex Ed and Staying Up All Night





Twenty years ago I was a college freshman at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos. I was ignorant about life, but I wasn’t aware I was. I was an Iskolar ng Bayan (scholar of the nation) and that meant I knew it all. That was the face, and the attitude, I brought with me when I moved in with old Oble.

Fast forward to 2013. Twenty years later I am once again in college, and yes, I can be considered a freshman. I’m back to pursue a career in a totally different field. And I am still ignorant about much in life, but this time I am well aware of it.


Those of you who are stay-at-home moms can understand–or will one day understand–where I’m coming from. One day you wake up and realize your children do not need you to follow them around anymore. You actually have some hours to yourself.

At first it’s an exciting discovery, but then you realize the hours seem to grow longer and you don’t have enough to fill them with. Worse, and much sooner than you like, you won’t have any of your children around anymore. Or more like, they won’t want you around anymore.

And it’s back into the big, bad world out there for you. And you suddenly find yourself rusty in all the things that matter to a prospective boss. So you find yourself looking at a college catalog, not for your kids, but for yourself.

Well, at least I did.

But being a mother/student can be a very different thing from being just a student. The past few months have been in my face about this, and I’m hard-pressed to find any humor in my situation. That’s not at my expense. At my expense? Oh, there’s tons of that.

So if you are thinking of going back to school, here are a few things you might want to know…



Your age will always be glaringly obvious.

No matter what your program is, you will always have younger classmates. And in the case of one of my classes, a younger teacher. And when those boys and girls hold the door open for you, it’s not because they want to get to know you. It’s because to them you’re almost a senior citizen, and they know it’s the polite thing to do.

The generation gap can be quite the shock.

We did not have health classes back then. We did not talk about STDs and contraception and abortion. Or at least, not out loud. Sex was a bad word. So was masturbation. Last week we started talking about STDs in class. I was the only one blushing. This week we saw pictures. Graphic pictures. I groaned inwardly. I didn’t want to look, but I had to. My classmates were interested, they asked questions. I just wanted the class to be over with. There were giggles and stories of people they knew. I felt like I was reading the news. In full color.


Your children have every right to see your grades.

We go on Aspen to check our middle-schooler’s grades each week. And rant accordingly. So if you are anything like the kind of parent I am, then you need to know that your demands for academic excellence from your children will boomerang its way back to your behind. And that bite can be very painful. Know also that any excuse you use for any grade other than an A will be quoted back to you by your smart alecks.


Your past will haunt you.

I was a lazy student, my highest academic goal was to get into the best schools and then coast through to graduation, exerting only enough effort to not get myself kicked out of school. {I didn’t even bother to go to my college graduation.} Now I get ulcers when I don’t get an A, not only because my children are watching, but because paying for school hurts.


Your mean deeds will haunt you even more.

I got a 100 in an exam where many of my classmates didn’t do too well. When our professor announced someone got a perfect score, I started sweating bullets. Not because I was excited, no. It was because I was scared. And when it did turn out to be me, I ignored my professor’s congratulatory “yay!” and turned my paper over to hide my score. See, I used to give high scorers dirty looks. And more. Having the tables flipped over isn’t fun. I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of that all-too-familiar look. And snide comments.

You don’t wait til the last minute.

Pulling an all-nighter will have you on your knees for the next few days. And your aged brain will convince every cell in your body you just got back from a different time-zone. It’ll mean coping with jetlag for a week or so.

Interestingly, as hard as it has been, I’m a better student now than I ever was in all my life. I suppose when you see the benefit to something, then you’re more willing to put the effort needed to achieve it. And when there’s a dream that’s pushing you, you crank it up even more, because you don’t want to risk not making it.