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Over 50 and Back to School
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5. Besides federal and state student aid, there are monies available for both graduate and undergraduate school in the form of scholarships and fellowships according to your area of study. Time spent in gathering that information could contribute hundreds or thousands of dollars in reducing your education fees. Need-based grants and merit awards are also offered by the institution. Be prepared to take out loans. Remember that you are investing in skills and information that will enable you to compete in a fast moving, high paced, youth-oriented environment. The financial aid department of any institution or a student loan officer at your local bank will give you all the information you need about low interest loans and repayment.

6. Once you become a student, time management is a vital practice that will determine the ease or difficulty in approaching your studies. Make a schedule and stick to it. It is not impossible for the older adult to successfully juggle school with work. Some institutions have degree programs that require attendance only on weekends. This can be a very convenient schedule for those who choose to work while they are attending school. Others have
evening courses, or distant learning or online courses. The Web pages of the distant learning institutions state if the school is accredited and by whom. There are many types of program schedules that make it plausible for an older adult to re-enter school.

Set your goal for success, know that you can achieve, and above all enjoy the rejuvenation that results from the opportunity of starting over. This is by no means an easy task. Consider it an adventure. The peace of mind in knowing that you can compete in your present work situation or be marketable in a future work situation is so much easier than the task of accepting the myth of old age, dependency and defeat. Change can be frightening and full of challenges, but it is also necessary and rejuvenating. Go forward with the security of the wisdom of your years to discover the “you” at this point of your life.

Alia Curtis completed her undergraduate work in 1973 and thirty-one years later had to make the very difficult decision to go back to school. She recently completed her MA Degree in Writing, and has taught Grammar, Creative Writing, and English as a Second Language at the University of Pittsburgh, Dominican College, Sierra High School, and BAYCAT (a community based Arts and Technology School for underserved children and adults).

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