- Investigate all possible funding sources.
There are a lot of scholarships available. Get on the web and start looking. If you are planning to attend college in the Delaware Valley, contact Bread Upon the Waters.
- If you have kids, do it for them.
By going back to school to get your degree, remember – you are being a terrific role model for your children.
- If you’re married, having a supportive husband is wonderful, but not essential.
Next to money, one of the biggest problems older women encounter when going back to school is a husband who doesn’t have a degree and feels threatened by a wife who gets one. I have no good advice to fix that. Some Bread scholars have ended up getting a divorce. My feeling is, it would have happened anyway. If your spouse or family won’t support you, find an encouraging friend to do it instead.
- Find a mentor.
Seek out a mentor within the academic community. Find someone with whom you can discuss courses, your doubts and fears, hopes and dreams – someone who can really and truly inspire you. Academics are people who like to be admired – and most of them love to help those who ask for help.
- University staff get breaks on tuition.
If the university that you want to attend is beyond your financial means and you don’t have a scholarship possibility there, find an area within the university where you can get a job. Often, university staff gets to take courses for free, only paying the taxes on what the course would have cost. You may have to work for six months first before you qualify – but that’s okay. It usually takes six months just to figure out which courses to take.
- Volunteering can get you on the inside track.
If you’re interested in archaeology, for example, being a volunteer guide at a museum is a great way to start. That way, if a job opens up, you’re on the spot. In a small town, you may not need a Ph.D to volunteer – just show interest, arrive on time every day, know the material. It’s a good way to get to know your future colleagues in the field.
Share your own advice for vibrant women returning to school in the discussion below.