Returning to College during Middle Age

I reached my decision to return to school when I was 30 years old. After years of bouncing around in low paying jobs, I decided it was time to do what it takes to move my career to the next level. It was a difficult decision. By the time I got my degree I would be 34 years old. Then it struck me; in four year I would be 34 years old with or without a degree. So off to school I went.

When I returned to college as an older student, the biggest change I noticed from my younger school years was in my attitude. When I was younger, school was a necessary evil, like a trip to the dentist. It’s not enjoyable, but you have to do it. As an older student, I realized the value of education. Having seen where a lack of education had gotten me, I was very motivated to do well in school. I wasn’t any smarter than I was 12 years earlier, but the change in motivation transformed a chronic “C” student into an honors student.

I will be honest, a part of that transformation was a matter of pride. Because I was older than the majority of students (and even some of my professors), people noticed me. It may be just an illusion, but I felt more was expected of me as an older student, and my pride wouldn’t allow me to fail.

Because I had more life experience, I was able to add some insights and opinions that some of the younger students may not have considered. While my study skill needed some work, my life experiences had also developed a stronger work ethic that payed dividends in the class.

It was difficult. Paying for school on top of existing financial obligations wasn’t easy. I also had to work through balancing school with family, but my wife supported my decision, and we worked through it together. It required a lot of sacrifice, but in the end it was well worth the effort.

I got an internship for my last semester that resulted in a full time job. In the first year after graduation my income was double what it was before the degree.

If you are considering going back to school, I highly recommend it. It’s a lot of work, but you’ll be glad you did it.