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Moms Going Back to College at 50 or any age

Updated on February 7, 2012

Going back to school isn't easy, but you can do it.

Mom, you've spent the last thirty years raising kids, taking care of a husband and a home, and in general putting your dreams aside. At least, that would describe me. And I wouldn't trade it for the world. But now, the kids are grown, the husband has moved on, and it's time to take time for myself. And you can do it too. Mom, you can return to school at 50 or at any age.

Making the decision to return to school after so many years away from the academic world is challenging to say the least. But who is better equipped than a mother, to juggle schedules, deal with sleep deprivation, budget spending, and throw your heart and soul into something, than someone who has been doing it for the last thirty years. Whether you spent the time running a home, running a business, or both (probably at the same time), a woman with these skills is better equipped to withstand the rigors of college life, than a youngster fresh out of high school. Now take away the inherent drama of the 18 to 24 year old set, and a college education begins to look like a piece of cake.

CSU, San Jose

Mom's going back to college at any age.
Mom's going back to college at any age.

Take it slow, or go for it

Not everyone can take the plunge and commit to applying to a university and pursuing a degree. Hitting middle age, doesn't mean that there are no longer obligations to fill up the day. Many women decide to return to school on a part time basis, while holding down a job. Many women, at 50 may still have a child or two at home, or in college. They may be involved in raising grandchildren.

But whatever your schedule may be, there are options available for fitting higher education into your life.

Online education

Online education is a great option for those mothers who still maintain a busy schedule. A google search will bring up many choices, broken down to the kind of education you're after. It is important to do research, though and go to an accredited school. This will ensure that any credits you acquire are transferable and that that degree you worked so hard for is accepted worldwide.

Some examples of the online opportunities available.

Online Degrees for Moms

If your goal is to earn or complete a degree, online education is a real viable solution with many options available.

Education for personal gratification

Many women may just be looking to expand their horizons. A degree may not be the goal to furthering your education. You may just be looking to add skills to round out a resume or to help with advancement at work. In these instances, a community college may be the answer.

Community colleges offer higher education with much lower tuition fees than a four year institution. Even if your goal is to graduate with a Bachelor's degree, it is financially wise to start at and complete the first two years at a two year college.

Aside from allowing students to complete general education requirements at a reduced rate, local community colleges offer a wide range of interesting classes. Again, if your goal is not to earn a degree, junior colleges may be the place to stir your imagination while learning new skills.

Taking the plunge - applying to a University

After spending many years taking a variety of classes at my local community college, I took the plunge and enrolled in a University. It was a scary proposition, but the fact that my daughter is also attending the same school, has made it less so. When we walk together and are handed our degrees, the years of juggling time, money and obligations, will be worth it.

Transferring to a University from a junior college is fairly easy. If you have a decent GPA, it is a painless process and most of the acquired credits transfer over. If you are smart about the classes taken in the first two years, you will be able to spend the second two immersed in classes that pertain to your major. And before you know it, you will be a college graduate.

Free Application For Federal Student Aid

How to afford to go back to school

As a mother, I know what it is like to feel guilty about spending money on yourself. After all, you have spent the last couple of decades, thinking and taking care of others. But spending money on education should not be thought of as a luxury.

Tuition rates vary, but on the average at a four year state institution, tuition for a year of college ranges between $6000.00 and $10000.00. Community college rates are considerably less than that.

There is help for tuition and other school related expenses. The federal pell grant program is free money for those attending school. It is based entirely on income and those who qualify for the whole amount get around $5000.00 per year. This is divided up per term and is applied to tuition costs at a university, or sent directly to the student at a community college, dispersed twice per term.

Low interest student loans are another option to help pay for higher education. Loans need to be paid back, but repayment doesn't start until 6 months after the student leaves school. Student loans are backed by the federal government, so you can't be turned down because of bad credit. Again at the university level, the funds are dispersed first to the school and applied to tuition costs. Students receive a check for the remainder.

The Federal Staford Loan has set limits per year.

For independent students they are as follows:

Freshmen - $9500.00

Sophomore - $10,500.00

Junior and Senior - $12,500.00

Student may borrow up to the limit, or take less, depending on their needs. The only stipulation is that you must be enrolled at least half-time.


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