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Re-entry Student GraduateWelcome to our online student discussion forums! This is the place to ask a question about returning to college, share information with other returning students, or just join in the discussion!

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#1168 - 04/09/2006 07:57 AM My thoughts on returning to college
drg3750 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/09/2006
Loc: Rockford, IL
Hi everyone,

I am a 56-year-old man, unmarried, with an adult son. I have a BA in English lit., which I earned in my early 20's, and an AAS in Electronics which I earned in my 30's through correspondence school.

It is strange that when most people in my generation are thinking of retirement and living the good life in their retirement years that I could possibly be thinking of returning to college. Why would I want to do that? What do I hope to accomplish at my age? Let me attempt to answer that.

Everyone knows that age discrimination is rampant in the working world. I've seen this first-hand where I work. Younger men who are in their late 20's, early 30's, often get better salaries, better job offers, more advancement. Once you hit 50, your opportunities really begin to decrease. By the time you're 60, well, good luck; only 14% of adult men in the USA work full-time past 60.

One reason why I want to go back to college is exactly because of that: my disenchantment with the working world and the age discrimination. In the academic world, there may be some age discrimination, but it actively discouraged. Older students are actively sought out by many universities because they add to the diversity of the academic environment. Everyone acknowledges that older students by all rights should have the same chance to succeed as the younger ones. So, it is a different playing field in the academic world than it is in the business world for older adults.

Another reason for my interest in returning to college also is the the value which I place on knowledge: I value knowledge for knowledge's sake. For a long time, I was ashamed of my English degree, because it was so impractical. Perhaps it was impractical for a 22 year old to major in English. It did indeed prevent me from having a productive career. But now, I don't regret it. It's just part of who I am. There are all sorts of different special knowledge in which to show an interest. It does not need to be always practical!

At this time, I would like to study mathematics, or philosphy; I'm not sure which one yet. I'm not even sure I will go ahead with this crazy idea. It is such a huge change at my age. But the crazy idea will not go away. The point, for me, is having the knowledge, earning that degree, gaining that sense of acheivement and increased self-esteem, even at my age, and at ANY age.

To those who are younger than me amd thinking of returning to college or going to college for the first time, I just say one thing to say:

Whatever you want to study, and for whatever reason, even if it is totally impractical, DO IT. Make the sacrifices, get the divorce (if you're in a rotten marriage), move (if that will be necessary), beg, borrow.... If it's what you really want in your heart of hearts, do it!!!!

-Dan

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#1169 - 04/11/2006 04:43 AM Re: My thoughts on returning to college
Just4Fun Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/11/2006
Loc: Sudbury
Hi Dan,

As I read your comments I was reminded of why at 45 I am back in school. I have just finished a BA in Sociology and have recently been accepted to teacher's college and will begin my degree in Education this fall. Frankly I started to think going to University at my age was a silly idea "practically" speaking. All the reasons why I shoudn't at my age be making such dramatic changes started to whisper in my ear. I have to move to another town, sell my house, leave loved ones, and possibly need to give away my little dog which I've had for 7 years... And lately I've started feeling foolish around my friends/family about continuing with my education; wondering what they must be saying about me doing this at my age!

I married at 16 and quit high school in grade 10. We had 3 children almost right away so I did not have time or money to pursue my education. However, somehow through the years I managed to get my high school diploma and attended a Community College for a secretarial course. But I always dreamed of going to University and getting a degree. Well now I am about to begin my second degree at 45 and fulfill another dream which is to become a teacher.

Your message reminded me that being happy in life is not about how much money you make but about going after your dreams and doing things that fulfill you in so many other ways that are not considered 'practical'.

I wish you success in all your endeavours... and most of all have FUN...

Rachel

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#1170 - 04/17/2006 00:12 AM Re: My thoughts on returning to college
Crysania Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/09/2006
Loc: NY
Hi Rachel,

I'm right where you'll be in a couple of years. In 2000, I went back to college to turn my messy clump of old credits into a "real degree" (which I completed in 2003) through an adult studies program, and just this past fall I finished my master's degree in Education... and turned 47! I have been subbing through the past few years (several times a week), and teach privately (piano) as well. Previously I was in the "corporate world"...for too long!

Now I am in "teaching" job search mode.
I feel very confident in my abilities and presentation, and am not worried about my age. I know it is competitive but that doesn't change how I feel. It's just a matter of timing.

How did this start? At a certain point I realized that one way or the other I would most likely need to work for the rest of my life (certainly beyond retirement age, with today's costs!). That could be at least another 25 years....which equals another career.
Although my corporate job paid pretty well, it had no security, and should the job disappear (which incredibly, it did after 13 years...the same week I graduated with my undergrad degree!) it was a limited and competitive area that I was in.
When my entire department (of more than a dozen people) was let go the week I graduated, I shuddered to think of how lost I would have been with no degree at that point. Instead I decided to forge on and launch into grad school and here I am now....DONE.

As for my loan, I just pretend I have another little car down the block that I don't use that will eventually get paid off. Seriously, I've paid more for much less over the years. This was the BEST investment I could make in my practical LIFE!

Congratulations on Teacher's College! You will get so much out of it.

All the best,
Crysania in NY

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#1171 - 04/17/2006 05:33 AM Re: My thoughts on returning to college
Just4Fun Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/11/2006
Loc: Sudbury
Hi Crysania,

Thanks so much for your encouragement. Sometimes we make choices in life with fear and trepidation yet we feel it's the right thing to do. Your choice to return to school was certainly one of them!

I also look forward to completing this journey. It's been very difficult yet so fulfilling and exciting. There are times that I feared not making it(the age thing was always my biggest concern). The pressure and hard work is sometimes overwhelming but it is worth it all.

I agree with you that working for another 25 years in one way or another is quite likely in this day and age. I have been blessed with good health and a supportive family and I now look forward to the future with confidence. My education is providing me with opportunities and experiences that a minimum wage job would never do. We are even considering moving to another country to teach when I graduate teacher's college!

I wish you success in obtaining a teaching job that will pay for that car!!

Thanks so much. The road to success is lined with people who support and encourage you... I appreciate everyone one of them... One more year to go and I can shout: DONE!

Rachel in Ontario, Canada

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#1172 - 04/18/2006 18:09 PM Re: My thoughts on returning to college
tcnixon Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/21/2004
Loc: California, USA
I also went back to school at 38 to get a teaching credential. I found that age helped me in some ways in the job search. At the school where I eventually landed, they hired three teachers that year. The other two were older than me.

Some principals seek out the more life-experienced just because they have that experience.


Tom Nixon
--
Founder, CollegeOfTheWeek.com
_________________________
http://BestOnlineHighSchools.com
Author, Complete Guide to Online High Schools
Co-author, Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning

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#1173 - 04/19/2006 13:11 PM Re: My thoughts on returning to college
Crysania Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/09/2006
Loc: NY
Coooool! Thanks for the good word, Tom!

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