I'm back to this forum to express my gratitude for those that before me were writing encouraging words and posting tips in how and why to come back to school. I didn't write anything back then but surely those members of the forum influenced me enough to get back on the school bus and now I can proudly announce that I'll be getting my MBA degree from the University of Miami this coming December. Here's to all those posters I salute you!

Now for those of you who are thinking about getting back to college I will pay it forward... here's my story

I'm 42 now and for many years I kept lying on my resume about my education. I'm not originally from the US and back in my home country I studied 6 classes toward a bachelor's degree in Marketing and Communications. So I figured that since nobody will actually call that University to verify my credentials I might as well put it on my resume as a completed B.A. degree.

I realized that having a foreign degree and not having one are almost the same though. Deep inside I felt uncompleted. I knew I had the knowledge, I had the experience but I didn't have the degree.

In December of 2002 I found this site and this forum. I started reading inspiring stories of people just like me. So one day I finally had the courage to walk into a community college and ask to see an academic advisor. The lady who saw me was a tough one, she wasn't too sympathetic about my excuses and my fears. She asked me questions about my academic and professional goals and she input that data into her computer. This episode was hard for me because for years and years I've been lying about my credentials to employers, friends, clients but mostly I've been lying to myself and for the first time I was admitting to someone that I was a fake.

After feeding my information the academic adviser said to me: "Sir if you register full time credits starting this coming semester you'll finish Law School in 2008"
What? I barked! 2008?! I'll be 42 by then...
She looked at me with the most condescending look she could have and said: "Sir... in 2008 you will be 42 anyway but you wont have a degree"

I paid for my registration that moment but my humiliations were not done for that day yet. Next step was for me to take a academic assessment test. By now you probably notice that I'm a proud man... so when the computer scores came back from the assessment test I ate a big portion of humble pie. I barely pass Arithmetics, and English proficiency; however I scored a 30 out of 100 on English Comp and 15 on Algebra. I was sen to to remedy courses before I could start actual college classes.

The first day of classes I looked for my classroom took a seat and something magical started to happened. First nobody noticed me, nobody looked at me like what are you doing here... second, other students were just like me, adult, with jobs and families, scared, confused... just like me, finally I've noticed that it wasn't that hard and I actually enjoyed being there. Soon I realized that I was in control of my life, I was doing something about my professional life and I was with other people who were doing the same.

For the second semester I was already having a blast. I loved going to school, even when I had classes with young students right out of High School I realized that the odd moment lasted just a few seconds. By the end of the first class I was already in study groups and I was just another dude trying to pass the test or write the paper.

Getting my A.A. degree gave me also the opportunity of exploring subjects I always wanted to learn. In addition to the required courses I took electives in areas like Music Appreciation, Astronomy, Theater, Political science, etc. I can say now that I was truly having the time of my life.

Soon enough graduation time came and I got my A.A. degree in Business Administration with Honors. But I wasn't stopping then... just like in the Forrest Gump movie I said... since I managed to get all the way here I might as well keep going... I was admitted to a private university to pursue a B.A. degree. This time I thought: I should get a degree in something I really enjoy. So I decided to get one in Sports Administration. In the new school there were not as many adult mature student as in my previous experience but by that time I didn't care. I've just took one class at the time, one paper at the time, one test at the time... I also graduated with honors with a 3.7 GPA

Here's is when things got really interesting. Because I overcome my fears and excuses I've managed to finish my college education, I no longer had to lie to nobody about having a degree. I could actually brag about the fact that since I started so late I received brand new information and I had the latest in business techniques and knowledge. But the most important thing was that I had leveled the playing field, I had catch up with people who finished college ahead of me.

The dilemma I had was what to do next. I was still interested in getting a Law Degree, that got me back to college in the first place. However; learning about businesses and marketing awaked a strong desire to pursue a master's degree in business.

The University of Miami was always my dream school. Mostly because I grew up in Miami and the Hurricanes football team is an institution in South Florida. So one Sunday afternoon I saw an ad in the paper about the Executive MBA program the University has. I booked an appointment and I had the pleasant surprise to discover that one of the advantages of finishing college late is that in many school you don't have to take the SAT, GMAT or other tests. So as easily as it sounds as soon as the admissions office received my transcripts I was admitted into the program.

The MBA program is for two years saturdays only, the majority of my classmates are of my same age (if not more). Classes are advance but I'm used to it by now so I actually have an advantage now. My GPA has decreased though but it's normal. In graduate I not chasing a honors degree I'm concentrating in learning. If you see my resume now it looks wonderful specially in the section of EDUCATION.

The moral of the history:
1. Do it now
2. Don't pay attention to the time, it will pass either if you study or not
3. Once you get your degree nobody can take that from you. (You could be thrown in jail but they still have to call you Doctor)

Finally if you have found my words inspiring please in 2012 come back and share it with those who will be having troubles in making the decision of going back to school.

It's 2009 and I'm 42 years old now... but by GOD! I Have my degree!

Edited by ELMATADOR (08/10/2009 13:54 PM)