why people avoid me at cocktail parties;' he joked.
A future so bright
Similarly, Bunn has been changed by her
decade-long journey for a degree. What she
learns in each of her classes runs together,
like goulash, she said, and it enthralls her.
"When I learn something and I dis-
cover something, I want to share it, but if
you're not on the sanle level as I alll, then
I'm boring you," she said, noting that this
has been the case with some of her friends.
"I found that the quiet camaraderie is not
where it used to be because I don't think
like [ used to think. ... It's more than pay-
ing the light bill. It's more than worrying
about food. It's more than worrying about
bills. Life is more than that."
On the other hand, Bunn said, college
has built her self-esteem to the point
where she now feels as ifshe can hold a
conversation with just about anybody.
Bunn's first semester at Carolina went
badly. She'd get up about 4: 30 a.m. to get
her family ready, then drive from Raleigh
to her 8 a.m. classes. Being a mother, wife
and waitress left little energy for English,
anthropology and medieval history.
know what? If I'm going to live, I'm going
to be old anyway, right? So, that's fine."
Whatever path nontraditional srudents
opt for after earning their degree, their
prospects are, indeed, bright. Adults with
bachelor's degrees earn, on average,
$51,206 a year compared to an average of
$27,915 a year for high school graduates,
according to a report released in March by
the U.S. Census Bureau. What's more, col-
lege degrees are at an all time high - 28
percent of U.S. adults older than 24 had at
least a bachelor's degree in 2004.
Mitchell has taken the LSATs and
might apply to law school. Petsiavas is
interested in neuroscience research, specifi-
cally with Alzheinler's and Parkinson's dis-
eases. Cooke said he might work for a
nonprofit. Siverson is enjoying his second
career as a hospice nurse. And Bunn, along
with considering graduate school, is work-
ing to make sure her sons get their degrees
- now, while they're young. 1Dt
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