where I feel weirdly disconnected in school

Today’s mail brought a fat envelope from GWU addressed to my husband. I had heard that letters were going out “to your parents, with information about graduation,” so I knew what it was. But it was still pretty weird to read through all this stuff - there were about four different things addressed "Dear Parent of a graduating GWU medical student."
My “parents” were invited to submit a notice for my class yearbook - there were samples attached. It looked just like the stuff I’ve been invited to pay for in my kids’ high school yearbooks. My “parents” were also invited to congratulate “your student” in other ways. One way is supposed to be a secret from the student. (It involves providing congrats messages from family members to students on Match Day, which is pretty neat.)
And I am going to miss my class’s Graduation Gala Dinner which is the Friday night before graduation. My son will be graduating from college that night - five hours away. Actually if it were just the college graduation I might skip it (he’d never know if I was there, it’s one of those big stadium things), but more importantly, he will receive his commission as an officer in the USNavy that day, a VERY BIG DEAL and an intimate, very impressive ceremony that I would not miss for anything.
Anyway, I have enjoyed medical school, and I like my class, but every once in awhile I get these reminders that I’m really awfully far outside the mainstream, and I don’t even know quite how to react - it’s just different, I guess. Maybe I will send all this stuff to my mom!

Hey Mary,
I can’t believe that GW sends this stuff out with as many non-traditional students that they have. I guess the old computer isn’t programmed to recognize that some of us ARE parents! He-l, some of us are old enough to be grandparents!
You have to take some photos of your graduation and your son’s commissioning ceremony. I will be in Salem, VA (about 30 minutes from Blacksburg) toiling away in the VA Hospital there. It would be great if you can post some of your photos so that we all can enjoy them. They may be the sole bright spot of my existance that month. You have to be proud of yourself and your son. What a great honor! (Isn’t he headed for a career landing jets on aircraft carriers???)
Anyway, you have to post where you are going to be after you find out on Match Day. At Howard, we have a Long White Coat ceremony (On Match Day) where we get a long white labcoat with Dr. Belle, Department of General Surgery embroidered on the pocket and our envelope inside one of the side pockets. At the stroke of noon, we all open our envelopes at the same time. It was pretty emotional two years ago. (Neat ceremony too)
On graduation, we have Honors and Oath Day and then the “stadium thing” on the following Saturday where we, the medical graduates get to march into the stadium in front of the other schools. That was pretty neat too. Then you get two whole months to enjoy being a physician before residency starts. Great stuff!! Enjoy!


Kind of odd… aren’t even many of the straight-from-college traditional students married (having married while in med school?)

Hello Mary, I’m new to this website, and having read a few of your inspirational posts, thought I would introduce myself. I live in Australia and have just been accepted into medical school at the university of tasmania. I’m thrilled to bits, but also weirdly disconnected. I’m 49 years old and the mother of three children. Two of them are independent, or so they think, and the youngest is ten. I’ve received some similar mail inviting my parents to attend a welcome and invites to visit me in college!! Mary, I’m at the beginning of what I hope is a fantastic journey and i would love to hear how you got through this feeling of differentness. All the very best in your career…may you go forth and prosper…hope to hear from you soon.
kind regards,

Mack, mostly I am just having fun and not worrying about the disconnect. I have been irked from time to time at the school administration - as Natalie observed, they ought to appreciate by now that their student body is diverse in age, and yet they persist in doing things that would be more appropriate if all their students were 22 and living in on-campus housing. I complained bitterly each of my first two years about “required” meetings that were called with less than one week’s notice for times like late afternoons when I would have already planned stuff with my family, writing things like “We don’t live in the basement of Ross Hall, you know!” I was annoyed at the seeming assumption that we were all within five minutes’ walk of campus. I doubt anyone listened to me though.
I enjoy my classmates. I don’t try to hide my age or cover up my “weirdness” – for example: I have a child who’s the same age as some of my classmates; in fact he attended grades 7-8 with one of them! I don’t try to hide my kids’ existence or pretend to be younger than I am. When aforementioned child got married last year, I brought in a wedding picture and showed it around, just as my classmates who got married themselves did with their photos.
I don’t take it personally. What would be the point? And when it gets a tad irksome, I think of how I’d feel if it were one of my kids in med school - I certainly would be proud and would want to be invited to school gatherings - to some extent. I do think that some of the events at my school are a bit juvenile, and not appropriate for graduate-level education, but that’s a style difference on my part; I’m not one to make a fuss for anyone, including myself or my kids.
As for the “Dear parent” mailings (Trismegistus’s question), I also appreciate that these are mass mailings and no one is sorting through them to make sure they’re appropriate for each person. They are simply sent to the “permanent address” that is on each student’s file. I daresay that most of my young married colleagues have listed a parent’s address as their “permanent” address, because they uprooted to move here for medical school and expect to move again for residency.
In conclusion: it’s not worth worrying about. I was mostly just kinda bemused. And I did think the yearbook ads were a good example of where I think we are often much more juvenile than I think a professional school should be. There’s an annual student council formal that I have heard some classmates refer to as “prom,” and that just curls my toes, I mean, geez, grow up already.
I think I probably come off as more annoyed about this than I really am. Mostly I treat it as a head-scratcher. And again, the bottom line is, HAVE FUN.

It’s nice to know that Maryland isn’t the only school with a “prom” And our administration seems to think that we too live around the corner. With 10in of snow on the ground, snow still falling, and my street not even being close to plowed, we continually get called in. I think they forget that not everyone lives in the dorms.
At least now I know I’m not alone

Minnesota has one too. Officially, it’s the "Winter Ball."

Thanks Mary…I do agree very strongly with these sentiments. I have been trying to rid myself of age consciousness…it really is irrelevant and our lives are too short and precious to be concerned with the trivia of administrative machinations. Onwards and upwards!!!
best wishes,

Before coming to Harvard, talking to an older (sort of) student about the school:
she: "I don’t go to too many social things… I guess I did go to the formal."
me: "the formal? you mean, like a prom?"
she: "Yeah."
Me: "But, it’s meant, like, ironically, right?"
She: "No."
Me: “And, uh, it’s the women who wear the gowns?” (I’m a San Franciscan.)
She: "Yeah."
Me: "Hmm."
But, the parents thing is ridiculous. Not just for older students. For students who are estranged from their families; for students who were raised by their grandparents or their aunts; for all kinds of students. Stuff like that is bigger than just us; it’s about a way of thinking that assumes that everyone has the same experience.
That said, I’m 34 and I list my parents’ address as my permanent one, because I don’t want to admit that I live in Massachusetts permanently.
And, last year, I lived in the dorm.