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Advice on Going Back to College . . . at 50

September 11, 2007 7:18 AM

The day after Labor Day, like so many other students, I go back to school. But in my case, it’s been about 30 years between semesters. I left college in my senior year. I never thought much about finishing until I got my last job a year ago.

When I was interviewing, I was sometimes asked if I had a college degree. I never lied: I had enough work experience that I didn’t even put an education category on my resume. But if asked, I had to say no, and it definitely lost me some interviews. I worried that if I had to look for another job, not having a degree would really put me at a disadvantage, and approaching 50, I wanted as much security as possible. I was able to arrange to resume my education at the same college (at a shockingly higher price). I enrolled in evening classes that don’t interfere with my work obligations. I’ve registered, paid the tuition, and found my way to the classroom. Now I’m just waiting for it to begin.

Meanwhile, my son started college last week. I talked to him over the weekend, and when I reminded him I was starting classes this week, he quickly offered me his advice:
Get to class early so you don’t make an entrance and get stared at.
Say as little as possible: “real” students do not want to hear the opinions of old people.
If you have a question in class, email the teacher.
Don’t try to make friends with students so they have to pretend to like you.

Well, I don’t plan to take all his advice, but I do feel a little uncomfortable about being so much older than the other students. I have Adam Sandler movie flashbacks. But I’m looking forward to it too. I feel confident I can handle the assignments, and I’m also more interested in learning now. I hope to bring some of my experiences in work, volunteering and 50 years of life to school and incorporate it.

As for the other students, maybe I’ll find a girlfriend for my son!

Comments (80)

I am 50 and have decided to go to college. My interest is in Nursing /Pathologist. I will not be able to attend College classes until Spring of 2011 GOD willing, nevertheless, I am tired of not being able to get a job or when I get a job I get laid off and time is not waiting for me or no one else therefore while I can still think clearly and make sound decisions for myself why not take a chance and go to college for there are so many advantages to continuing education. 1, Keep your brain health and alive, 2. meet new people, 3. challenge is always good, 4. I will come forth a stronger, more confident, and productive lady. I will take the challenge. Besides you got to go through a hassle
to get a tassel. I wish all those who decide to step out on faith and do something wonderful for yourself remember there is nothing to fear but fear so take the challenge.

I want to go back to college after 30 years and would like to do in a class room setting. I went to college for four year but did not get my degree and now it's time. Can someone give me some direction.

I am 52 years old and am going back to school to fulfill my dream of becoming an attorney. I have an AA degree wherein some of the classes are way too old for crediting. I am excited yet wondering if I will be able to remember what I am being taught, especially in the math classes. I have a son who is also going into his first year of college. Told him we can study together, he said, "sure mom!" Lookin forward is exciting and promising. It is my turn now after raising 4 children. Much love and blessings to all 50+ students.

I am inspired by many of the comments... I am 47 years beautiful, I am a great mother of 3 young adult married children who ALL serve in the US Air Force. Although I graduated H.S. in 1980, I sacrificed a lot of my "youth" raising children (was pregnant at 19) and of course at that time I did NOT possess the "internal drive" to go back to college until 1993. I've taken college courses off and on for years, (I work full-time, and I am a professional gospel music singer and On Air Radio Personality) however I would allow myself to become "distracted" with this, that and other and did not complete my goals. I have many classes to complete before recieving my AA Degree, yet I am determined to keep pressing forward.. My attitude is, As long as I live, I might as well spend the time wisely doing something productive. U feel me? Friends, We can achieve whatever we want 2, It's up to us...
If Grandmas and Grandpas can earn degrees at 87, I sure can...and guess what, so can U....It's ur choice. Soar!!

I started back at 52 last year..after a 28? year break. I am the eldest student always but I am using it as competitive motivation. I need to keep up with all these others younger than I. I love heading out to class with my backpack and thank goodness for the IC recorder.. Where there's a will , there is a way.. Not sure anyone will hire me, but I must think positively. Life doesn't always work out the way we expect. Keep going everyone!

I want to go to college. But I need evening classes, because I work. I want either something working with mentally challenged children, or Occupational Therapy Assistant. Does anyone have any advise. I am 51 years old, and will probably start summer of 2011.

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Sometimes I sound like I’m arguing, when I’m actually not. I just have a way of putting my posts stronger than intended.

A piece of excellence. This was exact and relevant.

This year I'll will graduate from University with a 30 -yr degree in English literature. I started my studies in 1980, and only to return to school four years ago, where I completed my BA degree part-time. Stepping into the the classroom for the first time was intimidating. I didn't know where to sit, had no friends, and I was surrounded by infants. I felt like I was nineteen all over again, except with a much better car. My classmates went from being intimidating, to annoying, to impressive. My first revelation things would get interesting was when I realized how easily they were shocked. Lady Macbeth, for all her drama, wasn't really so bad. I've met women like that, and I'm sympathetic to uncharacteristic madness. That's the advantage of age - normalcy is relative - and Shakespeare is so much more relatable the second time round. I'm more well travelled, and much more forgiving of human frailty than I was when I was younger. During my time at school I met some wonderful students, and inspirational teachers and as my enjoyment of learning increased, the age difference became irrelevant. As often as possible I sat at the front of the class, where all the other mature students seemed to congregate. We'd commiserate about the difficulty of writing essays when you'd rather be having a glass of wine, and in bed by 10. But there was also the joy of getting an A-, and truly being passionate about what you've written.
Congratulations to everyone going back to school, or starting out for the first time. School can be a scary, foreign, and intimidating place, but the rewards are great. Just try to enjoy the adventure, and don't ever talk yourself out of doing something you love.

I am so proud of all 50 year olds that are going back to college. I started back at the age of 51 to get my nursing degree of which I started at 47. I graduated in May 2009 and I am loving it. During school I had no distractions to keep me from my studies...I had a advantage on all the younger students in the class when it came to alot of my classes due to knowledge and wisdom that I had experienced throughout my lifetime. I was more focused than I had been at 18 when I started college right out of high school. For those that are afraid of getting a job due to age let me tell you that employers will hire you over the younger due to the fact that you will be more dependable since you don't have young children to raise and stay home with if sick. I have found my dream job in a Doctors office...off on weekends..and I enjoy meeting all the patients and getting to know them...I like the personal side of nursing by working in a Doctors office instead of Hospital. There are plenty of Part-time work out there for 50 year old, of which might be your cup of tea...that way you can still visit with grandchildren. It has been the best thing for me that I have ever done...Good Luck to all that persue this course...

I am 53 years old woman. I am hesitate whether I can get the job for the next 3 years after done with my college. It is a recession.

Dear Madam

Greeting from Mongolia. I work at Mongolian University of Science and Technology. I interested in geoeclogical monitoring for mining areas and I am searching for a scholarship to financ any PhD program. I am 46 years old. I had a M.Sc degree in biology from National University of Mongolia. So, please help me in finical support from donors, charity and other.
Also I was studying at the evening English class at at the Mongolian State University of Education.

I am 50 and in the 3rd quarter of an eleven quarter Masters program. I graduated high school in 1977 and did not step foot into a classroom until 31 years later. I am able to keep up with the work load and assignments but I continue to struggle with the age thing. I thought by now that I would have been able to get past it, but I haven't. Does anyone have any tips on this topic? Thankd

I cannot believe I found this website tonight! I am 56 years old and just went to my first class at college today. I have about 70 hours towards a Bachelors degree and I have always wanted to finish school. I was scared and feeling pretty much like a 5 year old but I made it thru the 1st class just fine. I pray the old memory holds out and that some of the stuff I took 35 years ago comes back to me. I'm old enough to be everyone's mother. I am so thankful to find this site and know I'm not alone in this re-inventing of yourself at this age. I am newly divorced and needing to find a job, so I am trying to live frugally and finish college lst. Here's to all of us! You go girls! (Oh and the guy too!)

Funny how life can take such turns and what a wonderful adventure it is! I am 39 and going into a college classroom for the FIRST time ever! I have made a good living and have created a wonderful life for my family and then one day it hit me...what does your heart say to you every morning? Gosh, I never really listened so after spending a few months asking myself this question, it came to me. It told me to take a chance to do GOOD WORKS in this life. So with my heart's song in my head, and many months of financial planning, I resigned from my Corporate position (that had more perks than Maxwell House)and not looking back! Am I nervous? I can hardly sleep some nights thinking I must be crazy. All I have to say to all of you, listen for your hearts song and make it happen.My hat is off to all of you that have made the leap and when you are sitting in a classroom listening to a group of fresh faced baggy clothed teens dishing about life, remember the rest of us in the "botox and books" group ! Now if you have been considering going back, when you are done reading my post, get on line and find a way to do it! You CAN change your life at ANY AGE.Bless you all

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I was hoping I'd find a site like this! I'm 55 years old and have always wanted to obtain a BS in Business Management with a focus on HR. To maintain my employability, I obtained my senior HR certification last year, which helped me prove to myself that I could do it! Although I've attended community college in the past and was able to breeze through English classes, math has always been a weak link for me. I enrolled in pre-Algebra several years ago and aced the class, but this past September I enrolled in Intermediate Algebra and although I studied for hours on end, for some reason, couldn't seem to retain the information. I knew I needed to understand the concepts to move on into College Algebra, but it was staying with me, so I withdrew from the class. My friends told me that possibly menopause had something to do with it; but I'm determined to master this stuff. So, my plan is to drop back in January, re-take the pre-Algebra class to re-familarize myself with it, then move on to Intermediate Algebra the following semester. I'm hoping that once I get over the math challenge hurdle, I'll be fine as I move forward pursuing my degree. Because of my age, I'm figuring I'll be attending college for the rest of my life, but I'm not doing this for anyone else but myself. I've been the cheerleader on the sidelines of my children's lives, encouraging them all through college, which they've done. Now I'm the only one without a college degree and have experienced the lack of success and the lower salaries because of it. But, I want the self satisfaction of knowing that I can do this, and grow, learn and achieve as I move through my 50s, 60s and 70s. Is there anyone else out there that is going through the same experience?

Try online college degree! It will help you.

Hello everyone,im 41 and am recently starting college ,i had to take a workshop class for 6 eeks so i can then take the asset test to pass then start my college because i dont even have a ged.i dropped out of high school and its been 26 years now im like a kids im nervous about not doing well in college.please wish me luck im glad i found this site beacuase now i feel motivated to do better knowing that everyone here is doing the same.any advice please feel free to fill me in...ps i will be getting my ged with college credits!

I am 55 and in my first semister of school. I have felt a bit out of place several times because I am so much older than the other people in my class, but I find them to be quite accepting and friendly. I love what I am doing and when I graduate, if I can find work then.. I can always teach here at the community college. I am not longer chasing money I am chasing my dream. That makes me happy1

Kudos to all of you! It takes courage to go back to school after 50! I have just started an online masters program in special education after a job crisis and am still beset by doubts about this. Although I am entering a field which is in demand, I am worried about doing my student teaching at age 56. This is the age that my father died! But somehow this is very life-affirming! I have a goal - I am aiming at something new and worthwhile!
I found a program that isn't too costly and won't take too long. I got interested in this field after losing my job in journalism and becoming a substitute teacher. Thank God for online courses! This wouldn't be possible without them. I feel excited for the first time in a very long time. But it's easy to get scared - like when I go into the schools and all the teachers look like they are in their 20s - I wonder how I will be accepted as a new teacher at 57!
Just remember - John McCain ran for president at 72!

Background: Just turned 51 this month, unemployed since summer 2008. Have a bachelor's degree in business with HR experience. Not finding work in my field - limited positions available plus I'm considered overqualified and salary history is high. I think my age is a factor too. Single mom; money is running out!

Thinking of going to community college for nursing. I was told a year ago by a recruiter for an assisted living facility that she was so desperate, she would hire someone like me in a management position even as a new LPN. Health mgmt positions usually require a clinician.

I live in Iowa and my research shows that demand for nurses is very high in our state. I don't know how I can go wrong. Tuition is not bad and the college is less than 10 miles away. I'm hoping my intro psych, English comp, and my biology class from my bachelor's degree will eliminate the need for me to take them now.

Iowa desperately needs nurse educators, which I would happily consider doing. There are partially forgivable grants available and they are higher for educators. I hope to get my LPN in a year and get back into the work world. As far as a BSN and a master's for teaching, well, I don't know. We'll see.

This time around, I'm going to push for the best deals. I don't know if you can appeal if a college rejects former credits, but I'll put up a stink if I have to! Time is of the essence. It's silly to take stuff over.

Don't be discouraged about going back to school. At 50, we could still have 25 working years left; however, you have to be very smart about what you pick. I never saw myself as a nurse, but there are so many opps for nurses! Good benefits, too. Older wealthy folks hire private nurses and pay well. A nurse can enjoy lucrative moonlighting.

When my kids have finally flown the coop I'm thinking of being a traveling nurse or even working on a cruise ship for a while! I love meeting new people and making a difference. This is a field that no matter where I go, I'm confident there will be a demand.


Okay, I'm a guy, but I have feelings too. LOL. Reading some if not most of the posts has been therapy to this young 58 year old. Over the years, I'd always wanted to go back to college but in between the working hours of the day, became engaged in the distant learning process. Nothing to do with the work I do but one of those just in case scenerios of what if's. All of our children still live at home as there's no work and they have paper. My wife will never leave them even if I got a job teaching english in Chile so I've been pondering many avenues in my quest for a new occupation in the near future. My business has been very good to me and probably will as I age, but I'm getting restless and want and adventure. So I'm heading back to school even if it's considered nuts to do. Teaching has been a natural over the years and being self employed has taught me to be a jack of all trades. So what I'm vicariously saying to all of you is.... follow your dreams. Life is short. This is it so take the leap, some faith, and go for it. What are you good at. Tweak it up and find a school that will make you a master at your skill and trade. I'm gonna do it at 58 and get my teaching credentials and do some teachen to the aging market that is in desperate need of help solving everyday problems. Now I hope no one offeneded that I posted here but what the heck... I feel better. Maybe I can go back to become a shrink.... thats the ticket. Ha!

Hi. I'm so happy i found this website. I'm 54 and have decided to go back to school after 20 years. I'm a LPN but have been on disability for 10 years due to a partial seizure disorder. I'm medicated for my illness and rarely have seizures now. My s main situation is i'm hoping my memory isn't affected so i can focus on my studies. Medications can sometime effect memory. I'm surely getting ready to give it my all. I'm just praying i can make it through. I am contemplating on making my field Health Administration. Anyone know if that is a good field for jobs.

just wanted to tell Sara that she might want to look into an accelerated degree nursing program, where you go in with a bachelor's degree and then complete the rest of the curriculum faster than normal.
But I'm a PhD student myself, at 50plus - it has it's good and bad days, like when you have to really search hard to find an instructor older than you. Or relearn statistics, a new computer program, and new stats program all in the same week - ouch.

I am 54 and will start college (again) Monday! I am a little nervous, but I am determined. I am a RN, have been out of a college classroom for over 25 years, and graduated high school 36 years ago! God willing,in 3 years I will have a MSN. I was so happy to read everyone's blogs. It made me feel better, not alone! I am getting the degree for ME. No particular career goal in mind, I love what I do as a bedside RN. Who knows, if anything flys my way, I may just take it! My husband will probably whine about no dinner on Monday nights, but so far he is very supportive. My daughters are enthused for me, and my granddaughter is going to lend me her Tinkerbelle backpack. Good luck to you all. I will pray for your success!

You women are inspirational!MY ADVICE- Get those degrees to show your children they should finish their educations! Do it as inexpensively as possible! CLEP Test as many credits as you can for almost free (Buy the study book). I got a BFA in Arts in my 20's, and an MS in Elementary Ed. in my late 40's. Am now a laid-off teacher in my early 50's with just a few years under my belt. It's REALLY rough out there looking for a job, but at least my daughters know I went for it!

OH my GOD. I was searching the internet when I came across this website. It’s like reading my life story. Thank GOD for your stories I thought I was alone. I am 55 years old thinking of going back to nursing school but SCARED to DEATH. Scared that I would be alone and looking like a fool.

I started nursing school in my twenties, completed all the academy courses but not the clinical part of nursing. So in my middle forties I went back to school and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management. To make a long story short ended up with three failed marriages now I am presently working with an insurance company as a typist. With the job market so unpredictable these days I figured a nursing career or social worker is job security. I would like to start a two year nursing program (RN) or (LPN) program but time is of essence because of my age. Anyone with any suggestions. HELP!

I do agree with several of you. There is no negatives to an education. Although, am I going to spend 3-4 years and thousands of dollars only to find no one will hire me because I will be 54-55 years old? Someone be honest, is there job opportunities out there for someone my age? Are companies hiring older workers?

I'm also 50, made this far by the grace, want to go to college,afraid to start after 33yrs. Divorced,empty-nest need to go forward bigger and better things.

I am 50 years old and have just finished my first college class after a 20 year gap. I was surprised at how quickly my math and study skills came back to me and I have been able to complete an accelerated chemistry class with hopefully an A. although I have about 64 units under my belt, I still have about 3 years to complete an accelerated CPA masters program. To those of you who are scared to go back- I, too, have had my doubts about going back to school when many people are thinking of retiring. However, I am not in a position to retire and need the degree if I want to move forward and reinvent myself. I don't feel like I am the walking dead just because I am 50. I was the oldest person in my class but nobody seemed to care. The teacher was about the same age as me. The kids were great and I never once felt "old" or unfit to be in class with them. Age is what you make of it. Take a look at Gloria Steinem and tell me that life is over at 50! She is my hero at 75 and is still very much a part of the world today. When I think of all the things that have been accomplished by people over 50, it gives me strength to continue down my path of education. Who knows, maybe my biggest contribution to this world is in the future!

I am 50 years old. I work full time. I have two children. My oldest is in college now. I am a breast cancer survivor and due to the meds I am on I have little energy. I have recently been diagnosed with a brain angioma. I figure I better kick it into gear now . Who knows how much longer I have. I took my entrance exam and was told I am on college level so I took my first course to test the waters. I got an A. Don't let fear hold you back as I have for much of my life. I have wasted so much time. Do better than me. Jump in. Don't spend the rest of your life wondering could I have done it. Trust me YOU CAN! If you fail a course take it over with a different teacher. Check your Professors on Rate my professor.com. I take my next two courses in the summer program. Wish me luck! I keep you all in my prayers. DON'T LET FEAR HOLD YOU BACK!!!!

I am 54 years old and currently a flight attendant. I just have to get this out or I am going to scream. I feel like I'm in a trap. Go back to college or not? By the time I graduate I'll be 57 or so. Who is going to want to hire an old dishrag when they can hire a 20 year old that is cute and calls in sick every monday morning. (Atleast I'd be there) I don't even know if I want the drama of working with them. I want a good job and I feel college is the only way out of this dead end rut. The other problem is the big stinking bucks it takes to go. I'm crabby. Thanks

In regards to Janice's comment posted on May 2nd. Everyone seems to be encouraging us to go back to school now that there are no jobs to be had. But how do we know that we will be able to get hired when we graduate and our age is over 50 by then? No one is answering this question. Paying for college at our age is a gamble not only in money, but in time.

I am going to be 50 years old next year and have considered taking some classes. The problem is the cost, its too expensive even at a community college level, is there a cheaper way to do this?


I'm considering going back to school, I'm in my late 40's and want to become a IT technician, it's been over 20 years since I've been to college but confident that I will do well. Reading the comments has provided me with insight as well as letting me know that I'm not alone in my new adventure. I wish you all the best in your journey

I don't recommend anyone going for a 4 year degree after 30. The return on your investment is not worth the debt plus interest on student loans. Community college may be a better solution for someone who needs technology updates. Still, it's no guaranty for employment. Younger worker are cheeper to hire, better looking and for the most part more flexible. Older workers come with experience, yes, but require more money, respect and in some cases more heath care costs etc..

Schools are in it for the money, your money. Because they have overhead to meet, it's a numbers game. I did not understand that when I went back at 36. Now at 56, student loans of 20 thousand dollars has grown into 60 thousands, with all the compound interest added. My final advise is to consider other options, but not an expensive degree program with little return after age 20.

I am 58 years old and really just starting college. I have a few credits. I love school. I never went to college before. I would like a 2 year degree - maybe human services. How realistic is it at my age. I have been working all my life.

HI, I am 50yrs, have a BA English, have not worked steady in 17yrs, but have life experience in fund raising, volunteered in environmental programs,and home schooled my children. I'm considering taking the core math and science classes and then transferring to a university to get a BS in wildlife management. It will take a long time because it will be part-time. So I might be 53yrs or older when I finish. Wow will the age thing let me even be considered for a job?

I am returning to college after 30 years to get my "pedigree". I left school with just under a year to go to be a flight attendant. After 30 years with the airlines, I turned 51 and decided that it was time to pursue a new career. My job offerings have been very limited because I am competing with my kids' friends, who have a degree, but no work experience. I, on the other hand, have worked in sales, owned my own catering business, and cooked on television. If this degree doesn't help, at least I will have started using my brain again! I am nervous, but very excited and lucky to have a supportive husband and children. Lookout, Blooomington, here I come!

I am 55 years old and am going to college for the first time. I have been disabled for 9 years so I figure I have the time. My problem is I'm not sure what to study. Given my age does it really matter since I'll be almost 60 when I graduate?

I am 53 years old and returned to school last year to finish my degree that I started 30+ years ago - I work full time and my 30-year-old son keeps encouraging me to continue on - I will finish in about a year and a half and am soooo glad to have restarted this journey! I have made wonderful friends of all ages and am amazed at how my life experience has prepared me for this new chapter in my life - I don't know where the degree will take me, but am sure the self-confidence I am gaining will continue to be an asset for the rest of my life!

I am back in school going for my AA in Nursing after getting my BA in psychology 15 years ago. These days, I am definitely more mature and am getting straight A's. I am the top student in all my classes! (This never happened in my youth) But now, sitting in class, I get some stares. It's unnerving and a little bothersome, but I handle it. One girl in my last class just decided to ask, "How old ARE you?" out of the blue! Wow. I'm 39 and don't look a day older. Truth. I asked her what her age was. She told me "seventeen." Figures. Rude little &^%. Over the next 3 months of the semester she didn't say another word to me. In a different class there was someone my age. She was returning to school after many years. We sat together every day! Mostly, the students are nice and don't bother me. Some are even supportive. But being very introverted by nature, this is not the attention that I wanted. From reading the other posts, I am concerned about my job prospects. I am hoping to finish the nursing program before the high demand dries up or I will have to compete with the younger applicants. It is sad to hear what some of you have already been going through at 50+age. With the population getting older "en masse," they are just going to have to start accepting older applicants to fill positions. At some point, there's just going to be too many of us. My father was laid off in 1993 from aerospace industry. He had lots of trouble getting re-hired, even with all of his experience. He went back to school at age 55 and eventually found a job with the government. He loves it!

Dear Been There, Done That...
Your son gave you advice appropriate to his age (immature and inexperienced) remember 18 year olds starting college crave something you have...life experience!! In a lot of ways that gives you the upper hand!

Life stops when you’re dead, go to school, who says you have to stop improving your self at a certain age? If you’re 50 and just starting school your story just may inspire other 50 year olds (or older) to do the same. The real secret to staying young is to keep growing as a person regardless of how old you are. You can be sure of this…that without a college degree your chances for better employment opportunities are a lot less, and why do that to yourself? Life is hard; it’ll be harder without the proper credentials!! Carpe diem!!

I am 52 recently divorced I have two years of college and only need about two more to recieve a degree in education.I currently work with my local school system and have been for ten years. But I got down a little and thought about not going back to school thinking maybe it was to late in life. I got up this morning and dicided to look on the computer and see if I could find some info on people going back to school that was over fifty. I found this site and I hope as I read the many comments that maybe it will inspire me.

I graduated from a university when I was 21. I am 47 this year. But i feel my knowledge is very old. I must continue to study new technology. So I want to go back to college again.

I have read everyone's comments on returning to school and completing your degree and I feel really encouraged. I was recently laid-off in February of this year and have been a little discouraged. I only have 12 to 15 credits to complete in order to receive my BS in Organizational Management and I am hoping that in September I can re-enroll and finally complete what I started. I will be 47 years old when I finish, which is great. I will be able to start the second part of my life with a bang. To all us single parents out there, we have to keep our heads up and keep pressing forward. Let's continue to use this blog to encourage one another (it has been very useful for me..Thanks to all).

I am in my late 40's. When I graduated from high school in the 1ate 1970's I told my parents at that time I wanted to go to college. They told me no, we can't afford it go to Manhattan (NYC), go to an employment agency and get a job. My first job was as a file clerk in 1979. I then worked my way up to assistant to a V.P., etc. I worked for various insurance companies over 15 years. I also attended college courses at night and during lunch hour in some cases. Sixteen years ago, I became pregnant. Due to having an overbearing (jealous)husband and a disabled child (mild autism), I never returned to work. (I did go to college part time over the years, but never obtained my degree). I am now 48 years old with a 15 year old child (he has Aspergers) and a husband. All I can say is that if you are a young person reading this, don't let anything stop you. I regret being pressured by my father and my husband into not completing my education when I had the chance. I am now too old. Even if I had a degree, no one would hire me. People really don't value older women in their late forties and up in this country. (Look at the despicable treatment Hillary Clinton is getting, I am disgusted and I don't even consider myself a Democrat). I am not overweight, and not that bad looking, but neither am I 30 years old. Men don't even notice women my age. My husband isn't a bad person, he isn't into any kind of in depth intellectual stimulation. Other than watching the history channel occasionally. (He doesn't even read a newspaper). His idea of watching the news is watching the weather report at the end of the 1/2 hour news report. My son is not interested in enriching himself either. He prefers to play video games and various computer games. My efforts to interest my husband and my son in any kind of intellectual pursuits have not paid off. Thankfully, my husband makes a decent living building condos in NY, we have a nice home, cars, etc. I worry about my son's future, though. Anyway, don't wait until you're 45 years old to think about going to college. Do it while you're in your twenties, and if you are fortunate enough to earn your degree make sure you don't sacrifice your career for your husband or kids. Most men don't appreciate the sacrifice their wives make in having kids and giving up their job, career or education. Not all, but most. All I have to say is, thank God for the internet. I am able to spend many hours reading newspapers, blogs, youtube, etc. If it weren't for this mental stimulation provided by the internet I would lose my mind. Also, my 72 year old mother keeps telling me, just get a job, work at Kohl's or Target. (I have to be home when my son gets home from school at 3:00, he goes to a special school). I told my mother, no I am not getting a minimum wage (crap) job, so we can go into a higher tax bracket and pay higher taxes. My mother worked as a lunch lady for 12 years in NYC public schools and she never even graduated from high school. If you have kids, make sure you push them hard to get their college education. It is an absolute necessity in today's society.

Wow! All the comments and personal scenarios are so inspiring! Thanks to all who opted to comment. I went to college at 40 while going thru a divorce and raising two toddlers. I went from having a cleaning lady to being a cleaning lady to pay for costs. I have no idea how I made it in so many respects except to say "One Day At A Time". At 45 I graduated with a 3.0 (it's only a number, I GRADUATED!) I have not regretted the investment in me for one moment. It has brought me numerous developmental gifts as a changing woman of the times. I too have struggled gaining & maintaining employment for someone else, even though I researched my field of choice before selecting it. Prejudices of women in their menopausal years are prevalent, recognized or not. I have opted to "do it my way" by starting my own business in 2006 (graduated in 2002). My concept is good, my niche market is carved out well. In time, it will more than supply the income needed for a more comfortable life style. Until then I have tapped into my retirement and have put in place many good, diverse investments for my future.

Likewise I have been able to do similarly for my mother who returned for a 2 year degree following the death of my father at at 63. Now 80, she faces immanent challenges we all eventually will see. She worked in her desired field for 3 years and then encountered 'a keeper' only to live happily ever after.

Do I have regrets? Not really. Gratitude abounds! Who we are is a combination of our experiences and what we do with those experiences is a choice in practical application for a fulfilling life. I guess the only encouragement is: "KEEP GOING GIRLS!" We are our choices yesterday, today and tomorrow. Keep making empowered choices by gaining knowledge to put your best foot forward.

Companies don't consider a 55+woman a good fit for what they are looking for (whatever position they are looking to fill) It's tough - I substitute teach, but one can't live on that.

I am almost 40 and am in college. I started in 1995; got an AA in 1999 along with my GED. Yaay!!! As happy as I was with my accomplishment I wanted more. At the time I originally started school I had 3 young children, lived in a studio apartment in NYC and had a part time job. WOW. I don't know how I did it, but I did. I am currently attending a very difficult, super challenging university in Florida. I swear all the professors have PHD's and truly believe they are teaching doctorate level classes. I was very fearful at first, but now I am excited. I will be 40 when I graduate with a BHA. I am not working and can not find employment. I just lost my home to foreclosure and have to move away. My children are a little older and two are living in NY, which is a struggle for me, I am just going with my vision and there will be no stopping me from accomplishing my goals. Hats off to all who go back to school and strive to better themselves. Even if it is just one class per semester, just to get started I say go for it. We only live once and we deserve to give ourselves some life satisfaction.

As a 55 year old who graduated with a BA in Elementary Education in 2005, my college experience was very positive. I made friends with students in their 40's, 30's and 20's. We bonded during our student teaching experiences. The real problems I have had are job searching. Despite straight A's and Dean's List status, administrators do not call graduates in their 50's. I had an AAS from 1973, and as soon as they see that date on your resume, they will not call you in to interview, except to work as a substitute. So for over 2 years now, I am working as a substitute in high demand for two school districts in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. So my advice to those who are going back to college, try to graduate before you turn 50, because my fellow classmates that were younger than 50 got full time teaching positions. So I am a well qualified substitute still looking for full time employment.

Don't take your son's advice about not speaking in class. I went back to college in my mid-20's. There were many people in my classes over the years who were older than I was, from all decades of life. My fellow students and I (even those younger ones) used to say how much we ENJOYED and BENEFITED from the older minds in the classroom. We thought they asked great questions and gave insight into discussions that we could not muster ourselves. So, definitely, speak up! [By the way, I am going back for my master's in my late 30's...with some young folks, too, I'm sure.]

I think it is great that you are going back to college, and please don't take all of your sons advise. Do ask questions because it may motivate some of the younger ones that aren't eager to go out in the front to ask a question to maybe join in on a debate of the subject. Be yourself. I too went back to college in 2002 to get my degree in the process I helped to take care of my in-laws as well as worked a full-time job. I graduated last may with my AAS in two fields and received my ged in the same year. The only boundaries that we have as an older student are the ones that we put up. It is easier for us I believe since we are sure of what we want to study and to attain. I wish you all the best and o for it because you do it!!!

It doesn't matter to me if you even post this, I just have to tell Been There..., that I have just discovered her and I am sitting here laughing my butt off! I have three teenage sons and completely hear what she is living. You are a fabulous wit and writer and I will come back time and again for more. Your style is right, your voice is honest and good. I clicked on your "face" because it was all those things as well. I've emailed your comments to a friend who also has sons, college, and work mania to contend with.
I'll be laughing all day rethinking the water bottle routine and your son's comments on you going to school rates right along with my 15 yr. old's very matter of fact rationale on how he'll deal with me should he ever have to "pull the plug". They are pieces of work, those boys.


Second Go Round
I put my husband through his undergraduate and graduate degrees and stayed around long enough for him to pay off his loans and bear three children. The year I went back to college was the year I got divorced. So, I was unemployed, in school, had no housing (my husband was a minister and the parsonage stays with him)and three young boys to raise. I kept at it and doggedly kept a 4.0, and showed up for every one of my sons school activities and found a fulltime job on campus. However, after several years I realized that my major, Secondary Ed/History was not going to net me the kind of income that could keep us afloat and pay off my student debts. With only my student teaching and one semester of classes left to go I decided that I had to make some "real" money while my boys were still at home. After directing a small department at a large university (even without my degree)I went from a corner office to being an executive assistant and more than doubled my income. What does that say about our national priorities.? Anyway, my children have all left the nest, I have just paid off my student loans with a refi on the house I bought by myself and I am ready to start phase two. I LOVED school as an adult, even under the circumstances. I answered every question, sat on the front row, studied hard, made friends and felt so stimulated. I feel that I learned my management skills early, while working in academia and went on to drill down to the details of how to run a company in my corporate experience. I just need to figure out how to pull it all together and focus on something that will keep me sane, challenged, well fed and traveling in my old age.

I got a kick out of your advise in the Sat. Eve Post where you tell readers to go back to college. First of all the teachers won't let you write the homework out. Secondly, it appears that if you don't use computers you're out.....I went back, got the crimnal justice dgree and went to the police academy only to be told that I'm over 50 and the've got too many younger kids to hire from why would they waste the time on older folks.... I did agree with them on this...Anyway, don't want to pop your bubble here but it ain't all roses out there........ ......


ps how do you go to college, raise children, one who is handicapped, work full time and I am close to 50 so I am getting stressed and worn out? Any comments or advise?

I am scared to death that I wont be as smart and quick thinking as I was when I was younger. I am also scared that I wont have the energy to work and go to school. I really want an education and value one now, but there are times that I really get worn out. I am 50. Help!

I am a 45 year-old male and obtained my BA in Journalism back in 1986. Since then I have been working in the social work field for about 20 years now...wish I had obtained my degree in Social Work.I am going back to the university this Spring and taking 1 class in social work. My plan is to save up as much as I can and leave my career temporarily while I complete my BSW. Long term goal is to get my MSW. Yes, I am apprehensive about my age and frightened of the unknown as well.Reading all of the encouraging entries has further inspired me. We can all do anything we set our minds to.

I am 55 and never attended college. Would like to enroll in a community college, but I am worried that I will go into debt for a degree but no one will hire me because of my age. I would 57 when I get an associate degree.

Like many of you, I to went back to college later in life, in hopes of bettering myself and getting a 'career' vs. a 'job'.I'm nearing age 50 and will have my BA in psych.in 2 more months. It feels good to feel 'officially educated', but feel it was a big waste of time and money now. I have student loans and no job. I've looked hard but no one is interested in hiring an overweight (I'm 200 lbs), middle ages woman who's been out of the work force for more then 10 years. You, young and middle aged recruiters, beware, you're time is ticking too. Watch how you treat others so it doesn't come back to haunt you. Older workers have a lot they can bring to the table, if you'd give them a chance.

I am 41 scared to death, my husband of 22 years can no longer do the kind of work he did. His job now is just not enough to pay the bills, he wants me to work, don't mind, but I think I should go back to school too. I want to feel good about my job, and have enough to provide for my children at the same time. All the comments I have read helped me a lot. It's nice knowing women can and do succeed in the work force.

I am an older student. I am 37. Almost done with my AA. LOL Finally! I intend on attending University of Florida next year. I am not married, no kids. I am a career changer. I have traveled the world in my 30's, lived abroad and really decided to major in Cultural Anthropology. I am a wildlife educator as well......my life is good....really good.

Dear Been-There, Done-That:
I graduated from High School in 1969 and worked predominantly as a legal secretary/legal assistant for nearly 30 years. When I was 48, I started college and I graduated at the ripe old age of 52 with a BS/IT degree. I graduated with honors, with a 3.93 GPA (it was 4.0 until I hit Algebra!! Ugh!). Most people who have my degree are programmers; I am not. I am a documents expert and a solutions kind of person - creative thinker to the max - and software support for Microsoft software. I also do fabulous things with PowerPoint. At the law firms I worked for, I was known as the Gal Who Could Do Anything. My degree did not teach me how to do what I am so good at - it simply demonstrated my aptitude. I'm actually self-taught when it comes to all the software and computer skills I've acquired! After graduation, I was immediately sought out by a local company and took a position as Document Manager for a growing medical management company. Three years later, I left for many reasons - good ones - with aspirations of getting my baby home-based business off the ground. But, it seems like no one will loan you money if you don't have enough collateral to guarantee their investment; but I haven't given up hope. I think about going back to school for my Masters, but I'm 56 now, and to tell you the truth, I get tired. My dream is to work from home until I can't work anymore; but I don't know if that hope is practical. It's worth a shot, though! :) I feel like the proverbial "later bloomer" - but, praise God, I'm full of hope. I think I wanted to post a comment here because I'm not a Mom, never have been, I've always been single and lived alone and I still carry my Daddy's name, and I worked full time and paid the mortgage (for the most part, on time) through the entire four years I was in college; and it was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life! But I enjoyed it enormously! I loved being around all the younger folks (I was older than most of my teachers); and I am still friends with a few of them. The younger gals kept saying I was "phenominal" and "amazing" - which I found hard to believe. I was struggling just as much as they were! I also did not keep my ideas to myself, and I definitely stepped on some younger, more liberal, toes. It was kinda fun. Their ideas weren't based on experience, but on listening to someone else which rendered some of their stands indefensible. I was able to absolutely silence one of them once! Not in a malicious way at all. Just kind of satisfying. Anyway, the whole college experience told me things about myself that I had waited over 50 years to know. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Even if it never opens another door for me, which I strongly doubt. I am persistent, and it WILL pay off for me! Period. To others like me, ... Keep on Going There and Doing That!! You won't be sorry.

Your story is very inspiring since I've tried to go back to school several times with no success of staying the course due to financial difficulties. Being 45 is also an issue although, I've always said: age is just a number. If you could do it, so can I. I wouldn't worry about what anyone in your class thinks re: your age or getting a girlfriend for your son. Instead, focus on the real reason why you went back to school for. Good Luck and Thank you for giving me inspiration to complete already taken steps to return to school. It's not an easy thing to do after being in the workforce for so many years but, certainly not impossible. Thanks for sharing your story.

I returned to school at 35 or so...completed medical secretary certificate program...worked at a major hospital as departmental secretary for 12 years..left because of illness..now after working in education for the past four years, I'm without a job again and no one is interested in hiring a 59 year old secretary or parapro! Getting old sucks...but what's worse is being old and unemployed. There has to be more to life than McDonald's and making beds at the Motel 8...Help!

I'm considering going back to get my Masters after earning my BS in 2000. I was in my 40's when I began my undergraduate work and it took 9 years going to school at nights and week-ends while working full time. I found it one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I asked tons of questions, formed study groups with kids who wanted to be in my group and felt a certain satisfaction when younger adults wanted help from me on their projects because I always got A's. So jump right in with both feet and enjoy yourself and don't ever be embarrassed or ashamed because you want to better yourself. It's never too late to try new things. Times, they are a changing, and we just need to learn how to change with them. You found a great support group - just keep talking to positive people. I keep a little sign on my desk at home-You Can Do What You Can Dream - Believe it! Being over 50 now and putting a 30-year career behind me, I find it scary and exciting at the same time. But I know I'll succeed because of determination and persistence. You will too!

I got a BS in Computer Science at 57. I loved school but sometimes felt out of place. Most everyone was nice to me.
I've been looking for a job for 2 years. I had 3 part-time jobs and finally went full-time on one of them but it's not using my degree and i'm not making much. Maybe I haven't tried hard enough but it gets very hard to keep going. Since I'm a recent graduate people are suprised when they see me show up. I'm thinking of just putting my picture on my resume so they can save us all a lot of time by not calling me.
I too have a student loan. I'm not worried about paying it off. If I die it will be paid so the odds are I won't ever pay it off.
I wouldn't trade my degree for anything but I sure would like a living wage for once in my life. I know I deserve it.

I also got my first B.A. at the age of 52. I have been in the work force for less than a year. What I am finding is that these small firms that I work for expect me to know everything already. Both jobs that I have had, since graduation (Dec. 2006) are not training me. Basically my boss in my present job has made me a payroll clerk, and an accountant and I have had no formal training in either position. Is it because of my age??

I am trying to get into a large firm, but what I am finding is that most of the Hunam Resource recruiters, that interview me, are all in their thirties and twenties.

Please advise and Help.

Mirror, mirror! I see myself reflected in the comments above. I too returned to school after age 50. It was scary but rewarding. Having a successful sales career in the telecommunications industry for more than 30 years means little or nothing in today's job market. And yes, not having a degree is a major handicap in job interviews. I went to school for one year at night while working full time. Most of the other students were less than half my age, and we had very little in common, but I did make friends with a few. Sadly I cannot afford to finish. I will still be paying my student loan when I begin drawing Social Security in 6 years! I have just been laid off again for the 5th time, and am pursuing a career change to leave the telecom industry. I wish I had a degree, but will just have to persevere without it. I am looking for an employer who values experience more than a piece of paper. Best wishes to each of you!

It is wonderful to see so many of us "50+" going back to complete or add to, their education. Today, just to get an interview, one needs an advanced degree. To bad. I only have 25 plus years of sales experience with no college credits. If I went back today, I would be almost 60 when I graduate and have the sheepskin to prove I can do what I have done for so many years. Frustrated, you bet!

I have been in school for 1 year now and hope to start a medical program next summer. I have been able to swing class and working but once I start my program it may be harder. I want and need this new career and was wondering if you know of any organizations that offer scholarships to help women go back into the business field or help make career changes. I know many people that want to make career changes but their problem is fiancial. Thanks for any information. Jean Brown

I too have returned to college. I am 55 years old, a widow for 16 years and have a daughter in her last year of high school!! I decided to return to school 2 years ago and although I have a AA degree and additional units I had been home raising my daughter and found employers were not impressed with my 30+ year-old degree nor were they happy I had chosen to stay at home. I have thoroughly enjoyed my return to the classroom. I make my voice heard and have enjoyed the coversations with the young students. The teachers have been very helpful and supportive. When discussing the history of the 50's, 60's and 70's . . . I have LIVED it! It is so invigorating and motivating to be in the classroom. But the schedule of doing homework, working part time, keeping a home and raising a daughter is not easy but is certainly rewarding. I would do it all over again. I have found it interesting that the positive remarks toward my return to school has been from women and the negative remarks have been generated from men . . . I may do a graduate paper on this!!

I to I'm back in school full-time after 25+ years. This journey has become very interesting. School vs Job...I've been in the insurance industry 20+ years and it has been very good to me. I've been fortunate to eplore all avenues. I learned many moons ago in Econ 101, (my first adventure in college)that insurance is consedered a luxuary, so with that inmind every 8 to 10 years they trim the fat and of course my postion was a little fatty. So I was laid off for the 3rd time in in 27 years.but this time instead trying to find another postion, I choose to return to college. I will graduate in the Fa 2008. It has only taken me 2 1/2 years to complete. I realize the committment this has taken. i really appreciate the support of my family and friends in this journey.

Been there done that. I could be addressing you or making a statement. When I was laid off from my previous position the first thing I did was get enrolled into a college program. May 2006 marked my graduation with my MS. OK, it wasn't an undergrad, but I did go to school with much younger students. No, I did not keep my opinions to myself - which got me a 4.0. I made friends with students half my age - which I still have. I often heard, You're nothing like my parents! Lastly, the relationships I developed with my professors resulted in the greatest mentor I have ever had. I say go for it. Enjoy every minute being a student again and let your son find his own girlfriend!

The Comeback Mom

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