College at 40: It Is Never Too Late
Life Rarely Goes As Planned
A funny thing happened to me on my way to destiny. Life happened...and it keeps happening. Twenty-two years have gone by since I graduated from High School and my current life is nothing I dreamed it would be as a headstrong teenager. My journey so far has been a series of blessings, mistakes, compromises, and struggles. This does not make me unique. It would be rare to find someone who's life has gone exactly as planned.
Like many High School students, I assumed college would follow graduation. I just wasn't quite sure how to make that happen. My mother and all four of my siblings suffered from a heart condition called HCM, and the mountain of medical bills made it impossible to save for college. I was a good student, yet I wasn't ambitious enough during my senior year to make scholarships a reality. College would have to wait. Instead, I married right out of High School and started a family. It wasn't difficult to settle into motherhood. I love my kids more than anything. I didn't want anything to take focus away from raising my children, but the longer I waited to start school the more out of reach it seemed to be.
Adults often make excuses as to why they shouldn't bother going back to school and I was no different. My excuses included: "I'm too old now and have probably forgotten everything I learned in High School", "How will I be able to afford college?", "Do I even have the time to devote to studying?" I still wasn't even sure what type of degree I wanted. The truth is, I was afraid of failing.
This is the age of Google. The excuses I had 20 years ago, need not be the excuses I hold onto today. With some quick searching, I learned everything I needed to know about things like financial aid for mothers going back to school. I was able to find articles about how other women my age have made it work for them. I learned about taking online classes to help make your college schedule more flexible. Each bit of information I found eased my mind. I had less and less reservations about getting started. So, I began applying for financial aid and college. I was able to do all of this from the comfort of my own home via the internet.
Realizing Your Dream
Today, I am the proud mother of 4 wonderful children ages 21 years to 15 months old. I am also a college student, just about ready to graduate with a degree in Paralegal Technology. There have been bumps in the road, but being able to see a better future ahead has kept me going. Every success I earn as a student just increases my ambition to go further. Now I am thinking about Law School. Why not?
Advice on Going Back to School As An Adult
When you have been a mother for as long as I have, thinking about making a life change such as going back to college can be a scary thing. However, as a mom with daughters, I want my girls to see that there are so many careers available to them. I want them to also have the confidence that they can succeed at whatever they put their minds to. I want to be the example of a woman they can be proud of.
Take some simple steps to get back to school:
1. If you need help paying for school, take some time to apply for financial aid at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ .
2. Apply to the colleges that interest you. Community Colleges are a good way to get started. They have many certification and Associate Degree programs to choose from. They are cheaper to attend than Universities and offer evening classes as well as online classes.
3. After you apply to the college of your choice, there are steps you will need to take to complete the application process. Community colleges often require potential students to take an entrance exam. This enables the administration to see what prerequisite classes you might need to take to catch you up to speed before jumping into the college level courses. The school's administration staff will let you know what else is required to complete the application process, such as having transcripts from previous schools sent.
4. After you have been accepted as a student, you should see an adviser to discuss the various programs you may be interested in. You should receive a list of classes for which you will need to register in order to complete the program you have chosen.
5. You should be able to register for classes online. Check for distance learning (online) classes while putting together your schedule, if that is what interests you.
6. Once you have registered for classes and,either you have paid for the classes or you have been accepted to receive financial aid, you are ready to start! Make sure to get the necessary books and supplies required for each class.
The Importance of the Degree
So, you might be asking yourself, "Do I really need a college degree?" If you are struggling within our current economy, a college degree may be just the thing to bring relief to your financial woes. The recent recession devastated the job market. This is a problem that will take a great deal of time from which to recover. While so many are fighting for jobs that do not require a post secondary education, doing well in college and receiving a degree in a special field (especially one in demand) can definitely help you to score a great professional job. Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce did a study that predicted by 2018 the economy will have created 47 million job openings, 64% of which will require some type of post secondary education.
Getting a degree has never been more important than it is in today's world.
By: Traci Ruffner