Friends with Max: Bridging the Gap Between Traditional and Nontraditional Students


Derya, Sir Ken Robinson, Me, and Max at the NSM

Max and I started off as colleagues  on the Pearson Student Advisory Board. To be honest, I didn’t really take the time to get to know him personally in the beginning because I was incredibly intimidated not only by him but by all my co-board members. After all, I was the only one in my thirties and a mom. Well, I eventually got over the insecurity with my Pearson peers (kind of) and felt a much closer bond to each of the students as time went on. So, by the time that we saw each other in person 6 months later at the national sales meeting, my relationship with the board members had changed.

Even though I formed a close bond with a few of the students, today I want to tell you about my friend Max. Why Max? Well, while being a student, he is different from me in many ways: he is in his early 20’s, his major is completely different from mine, and he is a traditional student, for starters. Despite our differences, we were able to form a friendship. After the portion of the sales meeting that our group was officially a part of had ended I was able to hang out with both Max and Derya (my transfer sister) and it was nice just to get to know them. And while we didn’t really keep in touch immediately afterward, we do now. In doing so I have learned that Max and I aren’t that different — sharing similar interests and passions. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to realize that in the beginning!

Being friends with Max has been on my mind lately. Partially because he keeps Snapchatting me pictures of delicious food and bow ties while he is in D.C. for an internship, but also because I am really grateful for a friend like Max during a fairly difficult time for me. If you read my previous post, that makes sense (If you haven’t, you can read it here). But our friendship has also been on my mind because I know several moms in college who don’t feel comfortable befriending traditional students or think that those students wouldn’t like them anyways. There is a very obvious gap between traditional and nontraditional students and I believe that the best (and easiest) way to bridge the gap is to be willing to befriend those with whom you spend 12+ hours a week in class with — your classmates.

I want to encourage you as moms in college to reach out and connect with other students on campus, ones who may be different and yet somehow the same. Here are some reasons why I am glad to have a friend like Max and why you would be too:

Max doesn’t judge me. Not all traditional students are judging you, in fact most probably aren’t. We have this selfish thing going on where we think that when we walk into a classroom every student who doesn’t appear to be nontraditional seems to be giving us the stare of judgement. That is just false. Having a friend like Max reminds me that I am accepted on my college campus and in special groups like the advisory board.

Max doesn’t see me as old because I’m not! Although I am a decade older than Max, he doesn’t seem to notice. Why? Because I am not “old.” Part of the reason I am not old is because friends like Max truly make me feel as though I am just another friend, just another student. I know some of you may be shaking your head at my willingness to just fit in, but I want to fit in and I like fitting in. I stand out in my own way without being an outcast and I like that. I didn’t realize that until the other day when Max told me with several exclamation points that I was “not old!!!!!”

Max is a good supporter. Even though I have literally written 4 pages of my book, Max is excited for me. And even though the book is for moms in college, he wants to read it…he wants his own copy. He doesn’t have to care at all because he isn’t a mom and he just finished college successfully. Yet, he is supportive of my dream and that means a lot to me.

Max is busy too! One of the really nice things about being friends with college students is that they are busy…well, at least the ones who are serious about their grades! It’s good to have a friend who is also running around a bit crazy trying to make all his or her projects and papers come together because it means that they know why they haven’t heard from you in a week. While your mom-friends may also be super busy as moms, it may be a bit difficult for them to understand your exact kind of crazy — college friends totally get it.

I know that some of you have gone through some difficult challenges while in college including having your friends (outside the college world) ridicule you for being enthusiastic about college, or for making friends or spending time on campus when not in class. I am not saying to ditch all your pre-college friends, I am simply saying that it has been a truly wonderful experience becoming friends with traditional students who may not be parents, or full-time employees, or any number of variables, but still understand the struggle of being a college student. For all of the reasons I listed above, I believe that the best way for nontraditional students to feel more comfortable on their college campus is to bridge the gap between themselves and their traditional peers by reaching out and making even one friend. One friend like Max. My year with the Pearson Student Advisory Board has come to and end, and I can say that I am truly grateful not only for the experience but also for the new friends I’ve made along the way.




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