Non-traditional student finds his way back into the classroom, all thanks to Georgia Highlands College

Larry Oswalt

PTH - Larry Oswalt- taylor barton
GHC student Larry Oswalt. Photo by Taylor Barton

I am a 64-year-old nontraditional student.  I am also a retired supervisor, a veteran, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a Republican, and at long last, a college freshman.

I have wanted to attend college since my teenage years, but finances prevented it. After serving six years in the Navy, I had the opportunity to go to college on the G.I. Bill, but circumstances made it impossible. I had every intention to attend in my late 20’s just as soon as my personal commitments were fulfilled.  However, life, a marriage, children, house and car payments and a job got in the way of my dreams.

Fast forward 30 years. As my son and son-in-law were preparing to attend GHC this fall, I lamented that it would be nice if I could go, but finances stood in my way.

I soon discovered that since I was at least 62 years old, I qualified for basically no-cost attendance. I took a deep breath and jumped. I bought books, a backpack, pens, paper, notebooks and a calculator. I was ready for the college experience.

With the kind and professional advice of GHC’s counselors and staff, sign-up was virtually painless.  My compliments and thanks go out to these amazing people who guided a confused, and admittedly somewhat scared, man through the maze of today’s college requirements.

On my first few days of college, I was extremely apprehensive regarding whether I would be accepted and welcomed into this new world because of my age. That concern was soon dissipated by the professionalism and concern of the instructors, and by the unqualified acceptance by the students that I have the pleasure to work and study with. If the students at GHC are any indication of the future of our society, we are in good and competent hands.

Assuming my health, and that of my family, stays good, I intend to get an associate degree in history. The degree will never be used because I am retired and enjoying every minute, but I will know that I have accomplished this goal. I will place my diploma in my study, look at it every day and be thankful for everything and everyone that caused or allowed this dream to come true for me. The love of learning is what keeps me coming in each day, and I hope that this desire will remain in me for many years to come.