Michael Nicholson — 75-year-old man with a fondness for higher education. To date he has received one bachelor’s degree, two degree, associate’s degree, 23 master’s degrees, three specialist degrees and one doctoral degree. He studied for 55 years and in total has 30 degrees. Here’s his advice for graduates.
“I get up at 4 am and at that time walk two miles on a walk. This does not mean that all have to get up at 4 in the morning, but to have some sort of routine really need. If you’re going to sleep through morning classes, it will spin as much in the pan, trying to make up for lost time.
When I was in Seminary, we had to wear shirts, ties and suits. Now this is no. And in this audience I see… to be honest, I’m confused. All look sloppy. Don’t know how to dress. I go to school in khakis and sport shirts. I wouldn’t go in a t-shirt, I would not go to Levi’s, I wouldn’t go in shorts, and I wouldn’t have to walk in sandals, like all girls. Fifty or sixty years ago little girls wore shoes and socks, skirts and dresses. They do yourself hairstyles”.
Now in the classroom, during lectures, I eat a lot. People come with Breakfast, with bottles of soda and water and all. Full gentleman’s set together with computers. Apparently, they are good at it. I myself usually sit in the last row, and I see what they’re staring at computers. I understand why many teachers despair. They lecture and give material and students staring at their computers and at the same time looking at a bunch of other stuff. In my time to fool around was impossible. Today can be anything.
I studied for 55 years. I liked it, and I got the diploma, so in that sense I’ve achieved. I used to learn, and I wanted to continue as much as you can. The more I learned, the more I want to know. I would really like at the moment, starting this week, to be in the classroom. But a couple of years ago I stopped. As I said one doctor: “You’re old.” I guess I’m trying to adapt to it.
It doesn’t really matter what you study, but you should study what really interests you. Otherwise you will probably throw this thing halfway. The most important is to get a diploma. Then you have the option of taking a master’s course or you can start working absolutely in another profession. Take my wife: she trained as a teacher and taught for some time, but the past 37 years she has worked in the field of data processing.
My wife and I met in Bible College. Then I went to Dallas Seminary for three years, while she lived in Detroit and studied. We corresponded from time to time called up. We got married when I moved from third year to fourth.
My favorite educational program was Seminary. That’s where I really learned to be a student. I lived out at home, alone, and I had to do their job, to be able to return home, somehow respecting yourself. This meant that I could not leave my assignments to the last minute. If you had to write a semester’s work, I had to start three weeks. It made me a student.
With a roommate I did not get along. He was very expressive, very emotional, and I’ve always been a quiet person. He always had something to say on many different topics, but he showed me a lot of good. To me he studied for two years, so he gave me some of his textbooks, some of their assignments. Do not fight with the roommate if you don’t like him; he may have something to teach you.
In the audience, you can quickly learn from other students; you can read their perspective on different things. To know where they are, what environment, what they can bring to class. And the teacher can talk about their experiences, not just feed you the lecture notes on the computer.
In the end, that is the purpose of higher education — not only in obtaining a job, of course, but also in expanding the horizons, expanding the view of the world. Know what happens in the world. How did the world begin? Where are we going? What are the relationships between people on this earth?
You also need to listen to teachers. The occupation is a teacher, so do not try to challenge him. However, if you strongly disagree, talk to him. For example, in order to obtain your diploma in criminal law — his 30th degree, I had to write a final project at least 75 pages.
Due to my Christian upbringing, I chose as the theme of prison Ministry on the confessional basis. During the research I found some information about a man who is in prison, turned to Jesus Christ. This, I believe, the man who took the fatal shot from grassy hill during the Kennedy assassination. Over the last couple of years I have twice visited him in prison, and I have 27 letters.
The work I have completed the presentation of his view of the situation with Kennedy and his killer’s appeal to Jesus Christ in prison. And my teacher signed it. He was one of four doctors who signed the work, among whom was a lawyer, despite the fact that none of them agreed with me. The fact that I created a convincing rationale, justification, which they couldn’t argue. Actually, that’s how I get along with teachers.
The debt I have. I started to post the Detroit newspaper at the age of 11, and I followed on the same paper route for 11 years, until the end of College. That’s how I survived the first four years — delivering Newspapers every day of the week. Of course, at that time, higher education is not worth so much now, but learning was never a problem. Along the way, several times I have worked as a teacher and in one University I’m 11 years old wrote out a Parking ticket, but all the while I worked I also studied.
I know that on the average a student after four years at the University accumulates $ 30,000 tuition debt. Is it worth it? I don’t know. I’m afraid of debt. I never like to be someone something due. When you somebody something should be, you are under the control of that person. But I don’t know what else to do. A couple of years I worked in the summer at the factory, but now it’s just impossible to get on a factory job. In the summer when I worked at Chrysler, I just went there. The yard was in the 1960’s. Now if you want this work, and suppose we go to China or somewhere else.
I would then have received diplomas about higher education if I hadn’t slowed physical state. So here’s my advice: keep learning. Continue until you can.