Bons mots

Slips of my tongue

Lessons learned

It has been a month since I’ve completed my classes. I am currently interning at the Ontario Dental Association and love it. The stress and doubt that has plagued me for the last seven months is dissipating. I am slowly returning to my old self.

I reread my very first blog post last night. It’s hard to believe that eight months ago I walked on the campus for the first time, anticipating how my life would unfurl with a mixture of excitement and dread. I think enough time has lapsed for me to look back, reflect and come up with some advice for other mature students returning to school after a long absence from academia.

Treat school like a job

Arrive on time, attend all classes and meet your deadlines. You will strengthen your personal brand with the faculty and students and be viewed as someone who is professional, courteous and dependable. It will also help you adapt on a mental and emotional level. You are leaving a life of routine and free evenings and weekends for one that will be erratic and demanding. It will be a hard transition to make.

Structure your days so that you have some time to yourself in the evenings and weekends. I know it’s easier said than done, but even the slightest effort brings some reward. If your days end early, stay on campus and do some work until the end of the day – update your resume, write a blog post, search for jobs. Because coming home at 2 p.m. while your friends are at work drives home the fact that you are not working. It was in June that I began jonesing for a job, a routine, a 9-to-5 work week. Watching Oprah at home every afternoon did not seem right. (Watching Oprah should never seem right, but you get my drift.)

Don’t fuss the grades

When you are in interviews for an internship or a job, you will not be asked what grades you received. Don’t be a keener like me and strive for As. As the program went on I quickly realized it was an exercise in futility. You are there to learn – no one expects you to write the perfect essay or the most persuasive news release on the first attempt. Furthermore, you have too many assignments to complete in a very limited timeframe. As long as you do your best, hand in your work on time and learn from your mistakes, your efforts will be recognized. If you reach for anything beyond that, you’ll wear yourself thin.  


Take one high school-like setting. Mix in 28 people of varying backgrounds. Stir in some tension. Add a dash of stress. Stew for seven months. That’s a recipe for drama (or an interesting reality television show). You might get caught up in it. You may create some of your own.

Avoid it. Do not get wrapped up in petty conflicts. If it doesn’t concern or affect you in any way, leave it alone, as my father would say. You have your own problems to deal with – why do you need to take on someone else’s? Going back to my first point, if you treat school like a job, treat your classmates like co-workers. You can still be social, pleasant and friendly. But keep the drama where it belongs – on television.

You are back at school for one purpose – learning, getting a certificate and ultimately establishing a new career. Don’t treat this as an opportunity to live your high school years over again. Don’t let anything distract you from why you’re there. If you forge some friendships at the end of it, think of it as an added bonus.

So, that’s it. I’ll end this post with the words of the great 20th century bard, Casey Kasem: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”


August 18, 2008 - Posted by | Learning | , , ,


  1. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Thuy Lam | August 19, 2008 | Reply

  2. Great recap Bonnie! I agree with all your points.

    Comment by thatsroger | August 25, 2008 | Reply

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