For my first go round in college, I ventured off with an electronic typewriter.
No laptop. No internet (Al Gore hadn't invented it yet*). No cell phone (I had an AT&T calling card).
I walked across campus to all my classes, often through the relentless Portland, Oregon, drizzle. It could be quite depressing for a kid raised in the dry, sunny High Desert of Bend.
At least college was affordable back then. An athletic scholarship I earned for cross country and track paid my tuition and my folks, God bless 'em, picked up my room and board. I left college debt-free.
Things are different for me this time around.
I take all my classes online at Purdue University, a school that's 756 miles away. Most of my professors teach remotely far from Purdue and my fellow students are scattered across the country. I don't expect to ever set foot on campus for this go round.
I work full-time and do freelance copywriting for a side hustle. This past summer I drove across the country from Virginia to Oregon and back while still working and taking several vacation days, all while taking a class and completing coursework online. As "vacations" go, it was different.
I'm accumulating debt in my pursuit of a master's degree. No scholarship was available because I've burned up my eligibility (and possibly because my competitive days are long past, as anyone who's seen my trying to hoof it around my neighborhood can attest).
I launched this 20-month, 10-class journey because I love to learn. I want to expand my professional skills and increase my knowledge. I don't want to be afraid to try new things.
I'm so impressed by the caliber of my fellow students. I'm grateful to be along for this ride with them and appreciate gleaning from their insights and experiences. I'm looking forward to "meeting" many more students this year in my future classes.
I'm almost halfway to earning my degree and earlier today I got a letter from Purdue. It was a Graduate Certificate in Strategic Communication Management that I earned after completing my first few classes. When I showed it around the house, my wife gave me a smooch and my kids clapped. I'm so thankful for their encouragement and support.
Sometime in December, I'll graduate with a Master of Science in Communication with an emphasis on Strategic Communication.
I imagine there will be more smooching and clapping in the Sabo house. Maybe we'll have a little ceremony. I could walk across my living room to get my Purdue diploma. Maybe we'll gather all 14 kids, two daughters-in-law, and one grandson for my graduation.
At least this time when I graduate, I already have a job and won't have to move back in with my folks until I find work.
And I'll be able to write a blog post on my computer and post it on this thing called the internet and people will read it on their smart phones.