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Going back to school as an adult over 45

Updated on August 24, 2011

I did what?

As I approached middle age, I could not help but have the feeling that I had not completed something. That something was my education. I never went to college to get my degree. When my father died (when I was 16) that didn't leave a lot of choices for me. It was off to work to help with the monthly bills, etc. I did get offered a scholarship to a school in Mew Mexico, but I turned it down because they wanted me out there before I even graduated High School. The scholarship was full tilt for tuition and books, but no living expenses. How was I supposed to eat, have clothes and get back and forth to school with no job? So I stayed home for the summer after I graduated. That in turn led to me eventually moving out of mom's into a rental with friends.

Living on my own, with room mates that wanted to party all night (I used to say they woke at the crack of noon) and sleep all day was tough. That didn't allow me the time to go to school full time. I did try the first year, but working full time and school full time nights and Saturdays just didn't work out.

About 5 years later, after I got the yahoos out of my life, I was working for a large sized Engineering company. They did have a tuition reimbursement program so I figured what the heck. I did go back and had a few classes under my belt and the economy bottomed out. They eventually laid me off and I was unemployed for over 2 years. I swore when I got back to full time employment I would finish my education.

I did get jobs after a while, the first two did not have a tuition reimbursement policies so that was out the window. I needed whatever money I had for living expenses, etc. I stayed with another firm for about 9 years, until I was rather unceremoniously let go. I got another job even before unemployment kicked in (Thanks Tim C.) and got back on track. I had forgotten about my pledge to get my degree until about 2 years ago. While sitting with my wife after dinner one night, the subject came up about how I would like to finish my education. She asked very simply "So, why not do it?". I was rather dumbfounded at her response. Yeah, dang it, so why not.

The firm I work for now had just cut my hours (another financial crisis) and they had a tuition reimbursement plan. I started during the summer of 2010 and have been attending ever since. I only take one or two classes at any given time so as to not overload myself. It feels good to be back in school and to learn new things.

Although, I must admit being older than almost all the student, and most of the teachers is......interesting to say the least. I took two classes during the spring 2011 semester, on two different campuses. On the first day of each class I waited until about 5 minutes before class would start and walked with my briefcase. The classroom became eerily silent, I stood their for a moment and looked around the classroom over my reading glasses and announced "Boy, I hope this class is better than the one I had last semester". That made some of the students at least look awake, like "Who is this guy?". Then I put my briefcase down on a desk, opened it up and sat down. Then they realized I was NOT the professor, and at least some of them got a good laugh.

Anybody else got a good story about going back to school as an over 45 adult? Let's hear from you.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      You've given me some inspiration. Thank You.

    • Caryn Esposito profile image

      Caryn Esposito 

      7 years ago

      You should pull a "Frank Abignale" and teach the class! It might be fun to see how long you could pull it off. Good luck with school! I should get inspired and do the same thing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Good for you Tom...I have been contemplating doing the very same thing...


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