Thinking about starting college at age 31

Posted by: NorcalBrad

Thinking about starting college at age 31 - 04/11/2012 14:36 PM

Hey everyone! Newbie here. I'll share an intro regarding my life and what's sparked a desire to start college for the first time at age 31.

I got my first job at age 16 and two years later, I landed a legal analyst position at an investment firm. I was making great money, college didn't cross my mind. Over the years, I worked for other firms and ultimately went to work for a law firm. In Oct 2011, I was laid off and have not been able to find work. I have excellent experience in legal management, but no formal education. More importantly, I have followed this path for the money. I honestly cannot say that I have ever enjoyed going to work each day. My dilemma regarding potential decisions are as follows...

Option A: I can continue the path of working in a field that I do not enjoy. It will enable me to continue the standard of living that I am used to. I will continue to have money to travel, etc. However, in this economy, will I honestly find another well paying position as I had before? Even if I do, I think 2, 3, or 4 years down the road I may end up in the same situation. I may outgrow a position, get laid off, etc. With no formal education, I don't have the advantage of other candidates. If I take this path again, I fear I'll wake up 10-15 years from now and will feel that I have accomplished nothing with my life except working dead end jobs. It's hard to admit, but this is how I am feeling now.

Option B: I can go to school. Obviously, I will need to continue to seek work, even part time while I attend school. The only career path that I "think" I will enjoy is medical, specifically an RN. I have always had the desire to help others. The challenges; soon my savings will run out. If I don't seek full-time, well paying (near six figure) employment that I'm accustomed to, I will lose my home. I may even have to file bankruptcy. The thought of losing everything that I worked so hard for is absolutely devastating.

Moreover, I don't consider myself to be too smart and my biggest FEAR is starting something that I can't finish. I don't know if I really believe in myself that I can complete college. Back to the material possessions, I know that if I let everything go, one day I'll have it again. I just see the road to college as a very long path. Perhaps one that will pay off in the long run years down the road.

I'm lost..., not really sure what the right decision is. It's hard to think of basically starting over at age 31. Has anyone else been through anything similar? I need to somehow get myself motivated here. Thanks for reading! Any feedback would be appreciated.
Posted by: thomas15

Re: Thinking about starting college at age 31 - 04/30/2012 12:07 PM

Hi NorCalBrad,

Responding to your intro, allow me to say you are not alone. The hardest part in my opinion for an adult to overcome with respect to college is keepng up with the bills and paying for the education. It's almost like the actual study time is secondary.

Your goal in becoming an RN is very good and if I had it to do all over again (I'm mid 50s) I would go the RN route. Instead, I have a BS degree from my youth and I'm looking to get another one (B.S.) in the medical support services field.

Not to discourgage you but many college RN programs are compeditive with respect to admission. Currently, Im taking Algebra at my local community college and there are a number of LPNs in my class who are getting their math skills up to par so that they can get into an RN program. For you the problem is that you have no college or health care schooling/training.

You should start by finding out where the programs you are interested in taking are held and meet with them. You may very well find that a few college level refresher courses in math and sciences are needed. I know that my community college has an RN program and the students have 2 semesters of A&P which have a prerequisite of introduction of Biology. There may be other prerequsites but it depends on the program you enroll in. Also, you probably will have to take some kind of placement test like the compass or accuplacer and given your background you may find other areas that you need to bring up to par.

I seriously doubt that an RN with 2 years of schooling is going to make anything near 6 figures although in your area it be possible. An RN with a 4 year degree, that is different. My advice is make some inquiries but be prepared to spend some time, at least part time doing some make up college work just to get up to where the HS grads are now. The really good news for you is that most adults even in classes like mine, elementary algebra do much better than the kids, we are on a mission and that really helps to keep us focused!

But you have to take the first step, so get moving!
Posted by: bohermansen

Re: Thinking about starting college at age 31 - 05/06/2012 04:07 AM

Dear NorcalBrad,
I am 37 year old senior @ USF in St.Petersburg/Tampa Fl. Going back to college as an adult IS very rewarding on many different levels. I just finished the most difficult semester yet which the experience being what it was, has prompted me to reach out to a forum to listen to other adult students. I have friends at school but most are in their mid-twenties or less. I am an adult with two young children and a very sick, disabled wife. To say that getting this far in school has been a challenge is an understatement to the n(th) degree.

But now, I am so heavily invested that there is no way to not see it through to the end. The only possible outcome at this point is to walk across that stage to receive that degree. In the beginning, it is exciting and scary and the daunting challenge could threaten to deter you anytime in the first two years when your investment is not too huge yet. YOU WILL BE Challenged but at the end of every semester when you have gained a new chunk of credits you will have a very strong feeling self accomplishment that will make you feel very good, almost euphoric when you complete the more difficult semesters.

There is so much advice that exists to offer that I could write a dissertation on it and that will not fit in this forum. Expect setbacks and that your hindsight vision will become a very keen sense. For example, I have been at this for almost 5 years now and still have a little more than a year to go and for the first time I had a situation that was new to me this past semester. I had a difficult courseload putting a Biology and Chemistry together in the same semester along with Statistics. I was an Engineering major and already well accomplished in math so Stats was my easy class compared to Bio which I was worried about passing. Well, I passed the Bio and Chem, the hard ones, and failed the Stats (the easy one). I knew all the material and was prepared so how did this happen? It happened because I was ignorant on one of the schools student policies. My final exam schedule came up as Bio, Chem, and Stats all in the same day which meant starting from 8am for three exams each lasting 3 hours with only 15 minutes inbetween. This meant the day ended at 5:30pm with no opportunity to take a lunch break and so I approached it with an "I can do this" attitude without questioning if there was an alternative. On the four days leading up to the exams I studied around the clock with barely any sleep and the night before, I did not sleep. Stayed up all night getting ready for the tests. I passed Bio and Chem because those tests involved answering questions and bubbling in answers but my easy class, "Stats", required more concentration and focus to work out multi-step problems. I failed the Stats exam and class (got a D in the class so I am going to have to retake it).

Since I was extremely upset about the outcome I emailed the Dean hoping that maybe I could get a chance to retake the exam. What I found out was that the school does have a policy for when students have 3 or more exams in the same day. I could have made arrangements with my instructors to take one of the exams on a different day but since I did not follow this policy by making the arrangements beforehand, I am stuck with the outcome. The lesson learned, questioned anything that can make every possible challenge easier for YOU.

Overall, YOU ARE DOING the right thing! I still worry about finding a job after graduating but no matter what I know that I will be a lot less limited on the jobs I will be able to apply for, I am a lot smarter now that I am educated, and my heart will feel more full when I have that degree. The feeling of accomplishment will be one of the most rewarding aspects and even though I have had to make myself and my family poor to do this, it is worth it. As a matter of fact, we are in the Save our Homes program and in mediation to keep from getting foreclosed on which should tell you that there is some meaning to the saying "Where there is a will, there is a way". Good luck, and if there is a way for me to provide advice then so be it.