College at 50

When college is too much

When I went back to school at the age of 48, the first few semesters I was focused on ‘school’ the evenings, on weekends and holidays....

Then increased demand at work required I drop college from my schedule for a about a year and a half.

Now, at the age of 51 I am able to return again.

This time, however, my concern is going back to school without it causing hardship on my family.

I know school can and will cause changes and a shift in responsibilities for all of us but I want my husband and children to be glad I’m going back to school. I want them to say, she’s in school and I’m proud of her. I’m glad she’s gone back.

I don’t want them to say, yeah, she’s in school and she’s never home or she’s always grumpy or she’s always doing her homework.

I don’t want my house to be a constant mess nor do I want to miss seeing my children because of class schedules or homework demands. That’s not what I’m going back to school for this time. I’m going back to help my family and that means help them while I’m in school, too.

So, in addition for asking the Lord for help on my grades I ask, first and foremost, for a good attitude even when things get tough. I also ask Him daily for insight into ways I can make my school experience a positive and enjoyable time for my family…not must me.

Getting Registered

Time needed: 1 week to 2 months
Cost: varies, depending on school fees and any postage fees required. My most expensive transcripts cost $28.

I knew I would need to have my old college transcripts sent to my new college. What I did not realize was that colleges also require your high school transcripts, no matter how many years of college you have already completed. When I decided to return I already had earned enough credits to be considered a junior in college yet I still I had to produce ‘official’ copies my high school transcripts. (An official copy is more expensive than a photocopy and is sent directly to the college from the previous school).

No problem, I thought. I’ll just call the high school and ask. That’s when I was informed by the high school secretary that none of the transcripts prior to 2000 were ever entered into their computer system and were all placed in storage in boxes. Though she was very kind and willing to get the official documents for me, it would take time to send someone down to their storage facility to search for them. About three weeks later the college got my official transcript and I got a photocopy.

The problem of not getting older transcripts entered into newer computer systems is quite common at both the high school and college level. One of my colleges thought my transcripts were also not recent enough to have been entered so, if you are returning, except this might be a problem and start requesting all your transcripts early enough to meet any deadlines.

Also, every college you apply to will need their own official copies of all your transcripts so try to narrow down your college choices before you start the admission process.

Note: Though I managed to get access to all of my transcripts, I cringe at the thought of moving and having to transfer to another college to finish. They, too, will need ‘official’ transcripts straight from my old schools. A different secretary at my high school might not be so accommodating about doing an old-fashioned paper search in an off-site storage facility.

Heaven forbid, those storage facilities ever burn down!


Time needed to meet requirement: 0-6 months
Cost: $0 to several hundred dollars

If you are going back to college you will need proof of full and current immunizations. If you don’t have proof, guess what? You’re going back to the doctor’s office or health department and getting re-immunized! Even though you were fully immunized and have never been hindered by the lack of paper proof before, it won’t work for your college registration. They have to have a copy on file. It’s the law.

I didn’t think my immunization record would be difficult to locate. After all, at the age of 20, I needed proof of full immunization in order to leave the country and live and work as a missionary in Peru. I’d produced the full record then. I figured the record was in a file somewhere and I would just need a booster shot or two. Yet, no matter what stones I turned over (I even called my church to see if they still had a copy on file), I could not find that full immunization record anywhere.

That’s when the college registrar, without a hint of empathy, told me I would have to start over from scratch and get all the shots. That process, she informed me, would take six months to complete, rendering me ineligible for the fall semester.

Really, I questioned her. Are you serious? Another entire MMR series? But I’ve already had the measles!

Yup, the entire series, and the polio vaccine and the whooping cough and….

I was stunned by the announcement and by her calloused pronouncement of my only option left. (She had obviously dispersed that news a lot and rattled off the reply like a pre-recorded message without even looking up from her desk.)

Lucky for me my mother had, in her files of 50 years ago, a partial immunization record of mine so—even though I was fully immunized--I only needed to go back and get three shots over the next month to "update" my records. That, however, was an expense and a time delay I had not planned on. I now have a current immunization record for myself filed right alongside my children’s immunization records...and, after being double-immunized, I'm going to be very upset if I ever get one of those diseases!


August 22, 2013

With two sons in college I have decided to head back and get my degree.

Going to college is daunting at any age but going back to college at the age of 50 leaves me wondering if my decision was based on wisdom or a touch of senility.

Maybe a little bit of both.

Since I started the application process I've found myself in a lot of mental arguments. The pep talks I try to give myself are always countered by an opposing inner voice.

For example, as I get ready to start classes on Monday, I may feel a slight inner confidence that tells me I can take all the course work; squeeze it in with work, family and church demands; find enough time to study; get good grades and finish it all the way through this time--even if it does take a full four years.

But just as quickly the heavier voice of insecurity pipes up and questions those same exact plans! How in the world, it counters, will you manage a full course load; squeeze it in with work, family and church demands; create enough time to study; get good grades and then see it all the way through for four full years? You haven't yet!

Other times the quiet assurance whispers but I’m older now. I can handle it. I’ve learned how to learn. I’m better at managing my time. Life makes more sense and I’ve learned how to live more sensibly. My wisdom, experience and organization will help with any deficits I may have.

Of course, right behind that, comes the louder voice of doubt twisting those same thoughts into fears. It tells me, Yup, you are older now. That means you’re no longer sitting in the prime of life—physically or mentally. Remember, too, that you’re chasms behind on the technology jump and if the classes move as fast as those kids do on the computer and their cell phones you will be behind before you even start. Besides, wisdom doesn’t get good grades--the ability to study and remember the information does. You can’t remember where you last placed your car keys (and we won’t even discuss the number of times you get your kids’ names wrong). Do you honestly think you’re going to remember an entire semester of college-level information?!

Yes, I must admit my doubting voice speaks louder and longer than my confident voice but I'm going back anyway. That's why I think it must be a touch of senility behind my decision.

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