Pens and Paper


When I was in high school, we used pens (or pencils) and paper for homework, tests, and taking notes. Granted I was in high school a long time ago, but things have certainly changed in the last 40 years.

We had the choice of blue or black pens.  They all looked very much alike other than the ink color.  Notebook paper and notebooks were fairly standard.  Shopping for school supplies did not require a lot thinking or a trip to the mall.

Today, however, we have pens in every shape and size imaginable.  We have ink in colors from black to fuchsia and many shades of purples, reds, blues and more.  We have pencils that can be erased while you are working, but in 48 hours they become permanent like ink.  We have pens that only work on special moleskin notebooks that can be uploaded to your computer.

Those are all available if you need to use paper and pen.  If you walked into some of my college classrooms you would see more laptops and tablets on the desks than you would notebooks.   There are still some professors who will not allow the technological monsters in class.  Students are forced to kill trees and use notebooks.  There is a more expensive alternative if you choose to purchase notebooks made with organic paper.

I must admit that I am guilty of opting for computers more often than pen and paper.  My handwriting has become more difficult to read over the past few years. I blame my computer keyboard for that.  Since entering the world of academia, I have purchased a number of notebooks, folders, and pens.  I am relearning to take notes.  Taking them is easier than making sense of them at home.  Fortunately,  our written papers for class are expected to be done using the computer.

As I “type” this post on my laptop, I am waiting a reply to a text message. (Yes, I use text messages more than I talk on the phone.) I sent a message to my friend who is a student at the college I attend.  I have my first test on Thursday and the professor didn’t give us any instructions.  The syllabus tells us everything but doesn’t say anything about tests.  I messaged and asked her if  we took tests with pencil or pen and did they provide answer sheets or do we bring notebook paper?   It may seem like a “Duh” sort of question, but I really don’t know what to expect.

There are a lot of things about going back to school that are a challenge this first semester.  I know it will get easier.  I had to figure out the online system where the professors post their syllabus, study guides, and more. I had to decide if I was going to buy new books, used books, or rent books.  Finding my way around campus is getting easier but I have no sense of direction and get lost easily.   The amount of reading, paper writing, and studying is more than I anticipated.  I didn’t study much in high school so I have to learn how to study.  And my book bag is heavy!

Just a few months ago I worked in a profession where I was well-known and respected.  Everyone knew me and I was comfortable in the office, meetings, workshops, etc.  People sought me out for advice and support.  I am now a bit of an oddity.   I feel like an outsider.  I am often very much alone in the midst of hundreds of people.

College has been a dream for a very long time.  I feel alive when I am in class.  I love being on campus.  I want this more than I have wanted anything for a very long time.  So, I will buy some pencils, put pens and notebook paper in my book bag, and study.   I just hope the professor can read my writing.   Wish me luck!


6 responses

  1. You don’t need it, but I will wish you luck anyway! You are my hero! 🙂


  2. I think paper and pen vs laptop/tablet sums up where we all are these days. It can be both/and instead of either/or. And I agree–my handwriting has seriously deteriorated over the years. You keep at it, Cathy. You deserve this opportunity.


  3. I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award. I know you are busy, my feelings won’t be hurt if you choose not to deal with it. 🙂 I just wanted you to know that I think you are pretty special!


  4. Good luck!
    Many profs disallow computers in class because the students FB, IM, and meander the web rather than pay attention.
    FWIW, I suggest you take short notes in class- and then go home or to the library and type them into your computer, fleshing them out. It will insure that you’ve digested the material- and when it comes time for test taking, your brain will thank you!


  5. Good luck Cathy! Pen and paper, blurred handwriting or precise key strokes I celebrate your return to school and understand the delight in having done so!!


  6. Congratulations on following a dream! I have returned to college several times and occassionally wish I could do it again. Funny – I have no dreams of going back to high school.
    I think there will always be use for paper pens and pencils. Even through the tough times, appreciate the small things and believe that you can achieve your dreams.


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