Aging, Gratitude, Life

That Old College Dream…

This post is presented in honor of students everywhere who are truly working hard to finish up their semester.

I was at the beach a few weeks ago, having a perfectly lovely time, and in the dark of that beachy night, it appeared:  THE OLD COLLEGE DREAM.

There’s a class I registered for,  but I haven’t been attending.  It’s too late to drop the class.  But it’s also too late to go back to class and catch up on the work I’ve missed.  I’m most likely going to get an F.

I have an alternate college dream.  I think I have a term paper due at the end of the semester in a specific class, but I’m not really sure.  And for some reason, I don’t ask the professor.  I just don’t do the paper.  Here comes another F.

I had a great time in college.  I didn’t miss many classes.  I turned in all my term papers.  And I didn’t get any F’s.

So why is this menopausal girl, many years past college, still having VERY scary college dreams?  Why can’t I dream about the parties?  Or sunning on the quad?  Or spring break?  The next boyfriend?   Something fun!

I don’t have a clue.  But both women and men friends report similar dreams.

I’d love to draw some brilliant conclusion.

Maybe the dreams mean we’re not as old as we think we are.

Nah, that’s not it.

Maybe the dreams represent all of our fears of failure.


Maybe their purpose is simply to remind us of a stressful but usually very happy time years ago.


And just maybe,  college dreams make us glad for the present, with its own set of problems, but no term papers, intimidating professors, or terror of fat F’s on our transcripts.

Yep.  That’s it!

Let’s give out the old college cheer for the here and now.

Photo Above:  The chapel at Duke University, my alma mater.  The photo was taken by my daughter Laura for her blog, Taking Back My Twenties.

Photo Below:  Laura and her boyfriend Matt Allen at Cameron Indoor Stadium after Duke beat their undergraduate alma mater, Davidson College.  If Matt is dreaming of papers and classes, that makes excellent sense as he is now a student at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke.

24 thoughts on “That Old College Dream…”

  1. I had one of those dreams not long ago! Horrible! Only I couldn’t get to class to take my final. Stuff kept happening to keep me from getting there. Also during the dream I realized I had missed a test and was supposed to take it by the end of the semester. And I hadn’t even studied and it was the last day. I woke up just exhausted and a nervous wreck!
    I don’t know why we have these crazy dreams so far removed from college. Maybe it has something to do with all the unfinished jobs, dreams, etc. in my life that keep being put off for one reason or another. And time is flying by. I need to get busy!

  2. for me it was my astronomy class, my senior year. so many nightmares. i confess i skipped several classes which was not the norm for me. i think that provoked intense anxiety and guilt. so maybe that is why we still have these dreams. yikes. even the thought of those dreams makes me nervous. where is my menopausal wand!!!

    1. You need the No More Bad Astronomy College Dream Magic Wand.

      But astronomy. So starry! (and hard from what I have heard.)

  3. My panic dreams tend to be theater dreams (I have my BA in Theater and have done community theater since I was a kid)…I am running around backstage, knowing I have to go on, but not knowing my lines or even the play we’re doing…no costume, no make-up and whoosh! Someone pushes my onstage and there I am!

  4. I rarely have a dream about college work or classes. Instead mine are about work work. Just generalized anxiety accompanied by visiting different former workers at their cubes. Most of the time the emphasis in the dreams is about the traveling from cube to cube and building to building. Sometimes I know the company and the people and sometimes I don’t have a clue what work situation it is. Go figure.

    Recently woke from a dream about opening a new jar of mayo and realizing I had mistakenly purchased the full fat version. Talk about anxiety 😉

  5. I’m so glad to hear other people have these…I thought it was some kind of weird OCD problem of mine. Just had one last week about a math class, probably because I’ve been doing some GRE practice and am horrified at my algebra ignorance!!

    1. I have a dream that I am supposed to be taking calculus but I haven’t gone to class. I have one weekend to learn it before the exam. Yikes!

      Are you going to grad school?

  6. Every time my college-age kids complain about a test, a a paper, or some other academic pressure, I let out a sigh of relief, because the truth is, I would never want to have those worries again. Sure, real life stresses are more difficult sometimes, and often much more long- term, but no one is grading me on my performance except myself. And by the way, I have those dreams often!

    1. You’re right! I don’t think I could take the pressure of grades at this age. Good luck to your kids though! Exam times are tough times but oh so wonderful to be finished for a semester.

  7. While finals ended at 1PM yesterday, I still had a dream last night that I was sitting in the classroom with my Finance exam in front of me, and I could not remember a THING about all the scary topics we covered: writing options, put-call parity, riskless arbitrage, betas, capital structuring, bond pricing…eesh…so excited for this break!

    1. Great dream. I bet they fade as the holidays set in. And congratulations on your fine grades! (A little Laura bird filled me in.)

  8. I wish I still had a therapist who could explain these dreams to me – I get them, too! Mine typically center around totally forgetting I registered for a class and, therefore never showed up and, thus really never graduated :-(. But almost worse are the dreams where I showed up for a final and forget to put on clothes 😉

  9. It’s funny that the day before you posted this my daughter posted on facebook that she had an exam in 2 days and when she opened her textbook, the spine cracked! She literally had not opened that textbook until 2 days before the exam!! I commented to her that it sounds like nightmares I have had. I’m glad to report though that I never dreamed I went to an exam naked OR that I never in real life “forgot” a course I had registered for but never attended. Boy, talk about a NIGHTMARE! haha PS My daughter thinks she did okay on that exam; small wonder.

  10. Hi Barbara, I followed you from VN to your website to Twitter to here!
    I am relieved to hear others have recurring college dreams. I have two.
    First is that I graduated college, but come to find out I never graduated high school, so I have to back. I can never find my classrooms and even though my high school friends have to come back too, they ignore me and refuse to sit with me at lunch. (obviously some long-repressed-painful-cellular-memory-freudian-jungian-marxist, etc, issues here)
    The second is that I am back at my alma mater, Alfred Universeity, and there is a horrific snow storm (I was there during the great blizzard of 1975) and I can’t get back to my class. Again, my college rommates are all living in other rooms, far away from me, and I can’t find them, either. (see above issues).
    It would be great if we could get a dream specialist to stop by and analyze! Amazing how much that period of life impacts us.

    1. Ellen,

      So glad to have you read my blog! (And so fun to hear that the old networking routes work.)

      Your dreams are wonderful. I think the first means that you are so smart, you didn’t need high school. Not sure about the snowy second one though.

      Yes, we need a dream specialist!

      1. Well I am not sure how you got that conclusion from this dream, but I’ll go with it!
        Would you like to connect on LinkedIn?
        Enjoy the next few weeks – from what I’ve read, it sounds like you will!

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