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Taking a Community College class for life enrichment


When I first started teaching at Glendale Community College in 2001, I was aware that a certain number of people in the classes had no intention of getting a degree, or becoming professional Graphic Designers. Of course, I never mentioned this, as it was school policy to always present the material as if grades, degrees, and preparing for a professional career were all that mattered.

But Community Colleges offer more than that. And if you've been wondering if you'll feel out of place at your local Community College, please let me set your mind at ease, you won't.

Yes, the majority of the people there will be recent graduates from high school. I'm still having a bit of trouble seeing someone with a T-shirt that says *class of 14* from their high school, and yes, most of the curriculum is designed for them. So, if you're elderly, that is over 18, don't expect the classes to be designed for you, but don't be hesitant to go.

If you haven't been around young people for a long time, or haven't been young yourself for a while, you may have forgotten that old people simply don't exist for them. If you're over thirty, you could walk into any class at GCC in a chicken suit and they wouldn't see you. Of course, if you start making a lot of noise, they may look up from texting on their phones briefly, but that's all.

This is how you do it:

• Don't pick up the phone, or go online, just get in your car and drive over there. Find the enrollment center, which at GCC is right out front by the visitor's parking lot. Yes, parking is free. Walk into the building. If you get turned around, ask anyone for directions. Remember that everyone was a newbee at school at one point. By the way, if you've never been on campus at your local community college, I recommend heading directly to the Student Union. Get some coffee, or get some lunch. Sit around and watch the people go by. Yes, everyone will look as if they were twelve, but then you'll get used to it. And you'll see other people as old as you, maybe even older.

• Take in the full experience. A Community College is a place of equality. Your platinum American Express card doesn't give you privileges there. If someone is ahead of you line, that's just the way it is. For people who haven't been in school for a long time, this can be hard on the nerves. Yes, there will be traffic - people. And those people are part of the experience. If you've been stuck in an office, or a car, or in your suburban backyard for years, being around all of those people will feel weird. If you feel overwhelmed by all of it, try this: take out your cell phone and text a friend. Just say *what's up* or something, then wait for the reply. This is a very comforting thing to do in a stressful environment around strangers. That's why you see so much of it. It feels good.

There is no need to go to a college guidance counselor. If you want to learn just about anything, yes, there's a class there at your local Community College. Classes begin in January, so you have two months now to ponder what you want to do.

See you on campus! You are welcome there.