Anyone go back to school later in life?

draggindakota

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One cautionary tale is that you’ll be starting your new career older than others as well, as I did.

It bothered me for the first year or two as I just “felt” that I was behind in life. I got over it. There were about 20 of us hired at the same time for the same position. After 6 years I was the only one still standing. Some burned out, others were forced out.

The jury is out on whether being the last one standing was because I was smarter or dumber than the rest. It is more likely because I was accustomed to enduring long term suffering.

At least in my case, I'm not starting a new career per se. I've been working in the civil engineering field since my first semester of college. I've got more completed projects that I've personally designed from the ground up than some of the actual engineers in my company, I just don't have "PE" behind my name. It's more of a personal challenge to finish what I started really, and maybe trying to set an example for my kids.
 

Whatizitman

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I’m no rah-rah. Far from it. But I do use this lanyard for work, as a reminder that whatever crazy comes my way, I can get through it, survive, and complete the mission. 🥴

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BigDaddyLH

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One cautionary tale is that you’ll be starting your new career older than others as well, as I did.

It bothered me for the first year or two as I just “felt” that I was behind in life. I got over it. There were about 20 of us hired at the same time for the same position. After 6 years I was the only one still standing. Some burned out, others were forced out.

The jury is out on whether being the last one standing was because I was smarter or dumber than the rest. It is more likely because I was accustomed to enduring long term suffering.

My wife had a Gen Z who started working for her ask for the first day off! Seems she wanted to party the night before and didn't want to get up early to go to work. You can imagine how long that employment lasted.
 

wrathfuldeity

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This is a really good point. I started my PhD program just after our second child was born. I was 32. Half of their lives was living with a dad student and worker, and around other grad student families in similar situations. Many of which were international students, multi-generational, and very academic-focused. It was Austin, so you can guess where it was exactly. My loans have since been paid off (forgiven, actually). But many times when I would feel down and frustrated about school debt, my wife would remind me that the experience she and the kids had of living on meager funds, and around so many amazing and highly educated people from around the world was worth the investment. Not to mention, at least up until 2008 or so, there was still a helluva lot a small poor grad family could do around downtown Austin for cheap. Often a great by-product of living in a university town.

That type of stuff sticks with kids. I happen to like my kids' ways of seeing and experiencing the world. Some of their peers... not so much. Both of them have their own struggles in young adulthood, including college. But they also have better problem solving skills and ways to be resourceful and creative with less than many of their peers. They learned that because their parents had to be that to get where they are now.

Great point about the influence on the kids. There are some families where getting a post-secondary degree isn't even imagined.

Concur! Went to WSU Pullman, WA; a small town with a great school. All of us poor grad students with family, lived in the on-campus family housing. Most of us were poor except for some of the international students. We took care of each other kids, helped each other. My kids learned to dumpster dive at the end of the semester when folks were leaving. Found lots of great stuff that the especially the international students could not take back home...power tools, stereos, video games, bikes etc. However the great thing is that the town culture was academic. Kid's public schools, scout troops, sports etc. So various kid activities...most all free, were often connected to the university and had access to the university facilities. For example, my son was in cub scouts and each week they were knocking off another arrow point. Parents (who were professors and grad students) just rotated presenting/providing an activity...often at a lab, sports facility or in the field. When we left, my son was clearly at least a full grade ahead of his peers at his next school, his new scout troop was in awe of all the arrow points covering his shirt. There was nothing else to do but learn, and the kids didn't know any better, so they learned. It was not easy but a great experience for all of us...and made some life long friends with other families.

If life presented the opportunity, I jump into a PhD in a heart beat...but as someone noted above, probably a little too bohemian to jump through the hoops. However otoh, with webs now days, armed with curiosity, the skills of knowing how to learn, be able to focus on analysis, synthesis, application, integration and execution...the world is at our feet. At 63, was tired of the corporate bs and insanity...left and started an LLC. Learning tons of stuff...especially the tech interwebs from younger folks... about to hire one for a short gig to get the tech side of my project fluffed and rolling.
 
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Rustbucket

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My mom completed her Associates degree around 70 years of age. She was already retired, and did it solely for herself, for which I’m very proud of her.

My wife went back and got her Civil Engineering Technical certification around 40. It landed her the job where she met me. Jury is still out if she got the good end of that deal. 😉

I got my bachelors degree at 25. Although I don’t have any desire to go back for any formal study program, I still invest much of my time and energy into self-education of subjects that I’m interested in learning. These mostly include finance, real estate, accounting, cooking and of course music. There is so much free content available in this day and age, that you can learn almost everything about anything.
 

Boreas

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Yes. Optometry school at IU when I was 38 - a 4-year program. Took me a while to clear the 15 years of cobwebs since my BS. First semester GPA was 1.8 as I recall. I clawed my way out of the hole and eventually did well when seeing patients and not memorizing formulas. If I can do it, anyone can. Still paying off the loans 25 years later...
 

Dan German

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Went back to uni at 43, graduated (BA Hons from the Dep’t of Theatre and Film) just before I turned 50. Best thing I ever did other than marrying Mrs. German. It was weird at first—I was prepared for being the Old Dude in class, but didn’t think of the fact that I would be into my second year before I had an instructor as old as me—but just normalized as it progressed. Best of luck, and enjoy the adventure!
 

getbent

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my brother in law retired a couple of years ago. He went back to school and got a degree. He'd been an engineer at the phone company for a bazillion years and had moved up without benefit of a degree, but he said it bugged him that other people had a degree and he didn't. He had fun getting it and actually got to go through the graduation last spring and they made a big deal about him being old.

I was glad for all considered that they didn't have him give a speech. ha ha... he is a great guy, very smart and has a great heart, but is most definitely a kook. He has what I would describe as a very unfocused and un contextualized intellect.
 

doof

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During my first attempt at college 21 years ago, I went into the brand-new two year E-Commerce program being offered. There were at least 4 people in my class who were middle aged. In the end it didn't work out for me but fast forward to 2007 and I started studying accounting at a different college, and once again there were a handful of middle aged people in my class. Once I got my diploma I transferred to university where, once again, there were several middle aged people and even a lady in her 60s in my class. None of us younger students ever felt like they were out of place. In fact, when it came time for group assignments, the older folks were usually in demand because everyone knew they were there for a purpose and worked hard.
 

memorex

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After undergrad school, I became a 1st Class FCC Tech and recording engineer. Did that until age 40, by which time I was tired of fixing electronic equipment and listening to loud music. Went to grad school at age 41 and completed MS Computer & Information Science. Became an IT programmer for the next 27 years until retirement last year, although I still work at home part-time for my former employer. Going back to school late in life is no big deal, a lot of people do it. Good Luck.
 

Lonn

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I’m the wrong person to ask but since you did I’ll say that I also went to university at 43 and it turned out to be a huge waste of time and money. Getting a bachelors degree didn’t help my career path in the least and as a night student it took me nearly 6 years to finish. If I had to do it again I would not. There are of course specific careers that require a university degree but I would not recommend a general degree in management.
 

Killing Floor

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This is a really good point. I started my PhD program just after our second child was born. I was 32. Half of their lives was living with a dad student and worker, and around other grad student families in similar situations. Many of which were international students, multi-generational, and very academic-focused. It was Austin, so you can guess where it was exactly. My loans have since been paid off (forgiven, actually). But many times when I would feel down and frustrated about school debt, my wife would remind me that the experience she and the kids had of living on meager funds, and around so many amazing and highly educated people from around the world was worth the investment. Not to mention, at least up until 2008 or so, there was still a helluva lot a small poor grad family could do around downtown Austin for cheap. Often a great by-product of living in a university town.

That type of stuff sticks with kids. I happen to like my kids' ways of seeing and experiencing the world. Some of their peers... not so much. Both of them have their own struggles in young adulthood, including college. But they also have better problem solving skills and ways to be resourceful and creative with less than many of their peers. They learned that because their parents had to be that to get where they are now.
Hook’em! My wife is at UT. She came with some skills the department needed so instead of doing TA work she manages a research project and has her fees waived and has staff full time benefits which is very nice. Her office is near the top of Belmont and she loves that environment.
She’s hoping there is a permanent position but UT normally does not hire their PhDs as faculty.
 

Whatizitman

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Hook’em! My wife is at UT. She came with some skills the department needed so instead of doing TA work she manages a research project and has her fees waived and has staff full time benefits which is very nice. Her office is near the top of Belmont and she loves that environment.

Nice! I found that even with RA/TAs and/or funding and working, I still had to take out loans. But my wife also made the decision to leave work for a few years while the kids were young. So I was the sole breadwinner for our young family for a while. Had we not lived in married student housing, though, it would have been tougher and more expensive for us.

It definitely was tough and expensive. But in the end, so worth it on so many levels.

EDIT: But I should probably add that, like most things in life, it is what you make it. It was long and hard (still is), but we were very fortunate. But we also had to learn how to capitalize on opportunity, whatever it may be. If college has taught me anything, it's that.
 
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wrathfuldeity

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I’m the wrong person to ask but since you did I’ll say that I also went to university at 43 and it turned out to be a huge waste of time and money. Getting a bachelors degree didn’t help my career path in the least and as a night student it took me nearly 6 years to finish. If I had to do it again I would not. There are of course specific careers that require a university degree but I would not recommend a general degree in management.
^ And there is this side. I tell kids, in a sense a degree is merely a membership card to get in the club. So the question becomes...do you want to really join that club or some other; and what are you going to do once you get in the club?

When going to undergrad in 1977-87, yup was on the 10 year plan with a 3.0 gpa; which was take to anything that sounds interesting. I would go and pull cards (ibm punch cards) for 15-20 different classes, go to each one for the first week or two. Then drop the ones that I didn't like or were too deep for my puny brain. Though if something in life was more interesting, I was doing that. Uni was the plan B. (Btw, kiddos...don't let school get in the way of your education...lol). Anyway, back in the day you could go to school for education and didn't have to focus on a vocation. Its too bad that these days, education is expensive and one has to focus on what kind of slave and how much does one want to get paid and is one willing to suffer that much.

Then in 94-96 at 34 yr old, jumped in to a masters with gusto, was focused and matured enough that I had a general idea of what I want to do.

2 cents
 

gimmeatele

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I first graduated with a BSc in Industrial Studies back in '79, and entered employment with the water authority. In '02 the company re-organised, the result was I ended up a couple of steps on the ladder below where I believed I deserved to be. I enjoyed the job, thought it was important, but not a challenge. The Open University offered a first degree Masters in Mathematics, which if studied half time would take until '10 to complete whilst still working full-time and raising a family. Before I completed the first year I was promoted three times, to a level which I found challenging, but continured to study. A couple of years later the OU pulled the plug on the qualification, so I took a year off then used the credits towards a Maths degree. I had another year off when my mum died, but graduated with a BA in Mathematics in 2010, aged 53. I took the degree for my own enjoyment, I declined funding and time off from my employer, I enjoyed it, it changed me, which my employer benefitted from, but it's my degree. Having retired over four years ago I'm now considering further study. The Introduction to Humanities unit looks interesting.
I really enjoyed my studies with the O.U, I liked studying in my own time and way. I left school on a Friday at 16 years old and started work on the next Monday in a factory, never was further education offered and I always wondered if I could get a degree, so gave it a shot, very happy I did
 

gimmeatele

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I

I am also an OU graduate -- BA in Humanities, having had a great time studying Shakespeare, Fifth-Century Athens, Italian art, Homer and British Cinema of the 1950s and 60s. It's a nice complement to my first degree, a BSc in Electronic & Electrical Engineering.
It was very interesting getting back into higher studies, glad I did it, just for my own satisfaction and to know I could
 

JohnnyCrash

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Did you feel as out of place on a college campus as I did today? At almost 42 I'm officially a college student again. I wasn't even in a class, just going to meet with my advisor, but I felt so...old :rolleyes:. It was an odd feeling really, because the campus was just like I remembered it, and I attended there for literally 10 years right out of high school, full and part time.

In that span I got an AS degree in drafting and was one class away from my AA in general studies with the intent of transferring to the local university for a BS in civil engineering (hopefully). Then in 2008, over a span of 4 months my wife got laid off (for the second time by the same company), I took a $10/hr pay cut to keep MY job, and we found out we were having our first kid, the economy tanked and school didn't seem like such a priority.

3 kids and 14 years later I finally took the leap and re-enrolled, after hemming and hawing about the idea for several years. Now thanks to some new state requirements I actually need 2 classes to finish my AA, but nothing major.


I went later in life (mid-late 30s). I must’ve taken my addiction for collecting guitars to school with me, I’ve earned five college degrees… and now, in my 40s, I’m back, this time in a credential program.

As a professor I had students in their 60s and 70s.

In the modern world and digital age, retooling our education/career happens more often than it used to. Colleges are full of a wide range of students. The younger ones have always been accepting.

Going back when you’re older made it easier for me.
 




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