In Andrea Hull's day, girls weren't really expected to go to college. But all that's changed. And Hull, now 62, is busy catching up. On Monday, the Hermosa Beach, Calif., woman began her first day of classes as a psychology major at California State University, Long Beach. Among her classmates? Hull's granddaughter, freshman Alexis Walters, 18, also a Hermosa Beach resident and a fellow psychology major. When Walters first heard that her grandmother was thinking of enrolling, she was shocked. "I'm like, 'Really? Are you kidding?"' said Walters. Although female undergraduates now outnumber male ones in the United States, it was a different story during Hull's youth. Hull, who graduated high school in the mid-1960s, became interested in higher education after taking classes at Santa Monica College, where she received an associate degree last year. "I just got caught up in learning," she said. After taking some classes at Cal State Long Beach through the Open University program, Hull knew that CSULB was her top choice for pursuing her undergraduate studies, as well as a planned master's degree in psychology. She earned enough academic credits before this year to enroll as a junior. So it's unlikely that Hull will be sharing a class with her freshman granddaughter this year.
But Hull hopes she can complete her master's degree in time so that she and her granddaughter can graduate together and walk the same stage to receive their respective degrees.
Walters, who has always had a close relationship with her grandmother, is proud of Hull's decision to enroll in college.
"It's kind of her own self-fulfillment," said Walters, a 2009 graduate of Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Although the two are more than 40 years apart in age, Hull said that on campus they're equals.
"I'm not her grandmother on campus," she said. "That is something that is tacitly understood."
That's not such a big change in their relationship, as Hull has "always treated me like an equal," Walters said.
Hull said that she admires Walters' maturity and independence. Walters doesn't blindly follow her peers, Hull said.
"I'm the teenager, she's the grown-up," Hull added.