Jon Nelson was the Assistant Managing Editor for The All State. The All State wishes him the best and will miss him. JON NELSON|THE ALL STATE

As an older non-traditional student, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started attending classes at Austin Peay.

I am old enough to be a parent to the majority of the students here. I have a daughter who will be graduating from APSU soon.

I was under the impression that my experience would be that of an outcast for being so much older than everyone else, similar to that of the Adam Sandler in Billy Madison. 

When I started attending classes I was pleasantly surprised. I was not only pleased to see that I wasn’t always the oldest in some of my classes, but there was a warm and hospitable feeling that I received from my fellow classmates.

Although I had just recently graduated from Nashville State before transferring to APSU, it did not have the big university feel to it that Austin Peay does.

I was welcomed with open arms from my fellow students and treated as an equal by the fellow govs that I spoke with.

It may have been because they were curious about my story or wondered why someone would be attending college at my age. It did not seem to matter though because just like them, I was here to get an education and earn a degree.

I did learn quite a bit during my two years here at Austin Peay. It wasn’t just what I learned from the professors, but also the students and the overall campus environment that taught me.

Just like my experience in the army, the time I spent with the people at APSU was really enlightening. There were people from all over the country with various backgrounds and diversities that shared in our education adventure.

I was easily accepted, and included, into the fold of the student body. I could often relate to many of the conversations and class discussions in which I originally thought I would be lost in.

I was also often asked for my input on various topics due to my worldly experiences and my military service. I truly felt that I belonged as part of the group.

Even with the age differences, I have made a few friends that I will stay in touch with long after my graduation.

I would like to leave everyone with a quote from one of the books that I have written, Brightness From the Shadows:

Road Less Traveled

Sometimes the road less traveled,
doesn’t have to be that way.
People may sometimes be too scared,
to try something new each day.

Try going off the beaten path,
every once in a great while.
Even though it may take longer,
and you’ll go that extra mile.

Try stopping to smell the roses,
or exploring something new.
You’ll never know what you find,
along the journey you may ensue.