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Back to school after 50: 6 tips Hot Conversation

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Posted in live it! lists, work & money.

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  3. Giving older female students an edge
  4. Going back to school at 53
  5. Older women returning to school

add your responses

13 Responses

  1. Generic Image clarestella says

    I got my bachelor’s degree at 50, my substance abuse certificate a few years later, and my master’s at 59.  It was weird at times being older than my professors but I loved being in school.  I took out loans for my education and am slowly paying them back.  It was worth every penny to get my education!

    1 like

    • Generic Image Anne1959 says

      I was so glad I read your post. I just started back to shcool this semester and I am 50. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought “I am too old to be doing this”. I had to take out loans for school and was worried about borrowing so much money at my age, so it was great to hear from someone who has done just that.

      I was a single mom for about 17 years and once my children moved out I lost my job. I looked at this as an opportunity so I jumped right in and am going full time. I love it! I am still very nervous and working hard to get on a schedule so I can study. It has been such a big shift mentally to take this time for me and not worry about other things that need to be done.

      We need to hear from more women like you and have more support “out there”. I am amazed and excited when I see the amount of women close to my age back in school. We need to support each other because it isn’t easy.

      Thanks again!

      Anne

      1 like

      • Elin Danien Elin Danien says

        One thing I learned from my professors is that they LOVE older students.  We’re there because we want to be, not because it’s the usual progression from high school.  And just remember: it may be harder to memorize things, but we know where to go to find out, and we also bring life experience to the classroom.

        Onward!

        Elin

         

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      • Generic Image MaryTF says

        I applaud each of you.  I have been saying for years that I am returning to school to complete my Bachelor’s Degree.  I can say I am taking an online course.  At least that’s a start.

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      • Elin Danien Elin Danien says

        Congratulations Mary!  The first step is always the hardest.  And now that you’re taking an on line course, you’re on your way.  Just remember that you have something to contribute that no one else has….your life experience gives you the kind of intellectual and emotional bank account you can draw on without ever exhausting it.

        Onward!

         

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      • bethany bethany says

        So glad to hear there are so many of us choosing to go to college.  I entered my first year of college last summer at the age of 54.  Being surrounded by people young enough in some cases to be my grandchildren has been a big adjustment but so far I do have a 3.8 GPA.  Keep up the good work…you can do it!!!!

        Beth

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    • Nina Killian Nina Killian says

      I can’t even get a GED!

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      • Generic Image moongoddess says

        Why?  There are many places that prepare for the GED.  I think you can take it over if you failed.  There’s more to this.  What’s going on?

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      • Generic Image paintbrush says

        In our district, when you pay for the test, you get three tries.  You also can select the best scores in the subjects.  And, if you don’t pass after three tries, you can try again.  And, if you have some sort of special need or learning disability, you can have them make adaptations for you, such as longer time or given orally.  check it out, there may be more help out there than you think.

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  2. Alicia Alicia says

    I won a women’s scholarship (Linda Lael Miller) at ge 61, because of what I wrote about my life.  School was never easy for me, but I work so hard.  I got a 4.0 in my last class…next is biology (never had it); but I will work really hard.  Women in our age group are wonderful students, because we are SELF directed.

    xoxo, freshman (woman) at age 63!

    0 like

    • Elin Danien Elin Danien says

      You’re absolutely right about women of our age.  We ARE wonderful students.  And just think, we’re terrific terrific role models for the young kids.  I m in awe….taking biology is no easy task.  But just remember: you can do it.  You are woman.  You can do anything.

       

      Hugs,

       

      Elin

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  3. Generic Image Maggie De Vore says

    Love your tips to getting back to school — may I add? — making a decision about what you want to do in order to get the most out of your education???  I decided when I went to University in England that I wanted to do: 1) something I could do for the rest of my life (if my brain was still ticking over) 2)  I could work the least amount of hours and make the most amount of money.  This was so I could have time with family, play golf, travel and at my age at graduation (58) it would not so much feel like a ‘job’. 

    Had a wonderful mentor, very good professors who – as you said – love ‘mature students’!

    In England you jump into your major (mine was psychology in the school of African and Asian Studies) and don’t have to mess with a bunch of pre-requisites — it was a 3 year ‘honor’s’ degree course and, as a resident (I’d been living there for more than 5 years and — tho I told them I could pay — it was free’ as all universtiy is in England – if you qualify.

    I teamed up with 6 other ‘mature student’ — about 40 down to 28 – for studying purposes and had a grand time!!

    Cream on the cake??  Paul McCartney spoke and got an honorary degree at my graduation ceremony!!  Ain’t life grand??

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    • Elin Danien Elin Danien says

      WOW!  I can’t compete with Paul McCartney.  I don’t even remember who spoke at my graduation, except that it was outdoors on a 90 degree day.  We filled Penn’s Franklin Field (football and track and field space, so that gives you an idea of how big it is) and all of us must have lost ten pounds sweating under our gowns.

      I was very lucky because I was in a fortunate position where I didn’t have to worry about money–either making it or paying for tuition.    Which is a good thing, because as an archaeologist, money is very scarce.

      And isn’t it wonderful to know you could do it!  I started a scholarship (Bread Upon the Waters) for women over 30 who want to earn a BA at Penn. We have a scholars’ reception each year, and I always emphasize the fact that I got my Ph.D. at the age of 68. And this year, when I speak to the scholars, past and present, who gather, it will be a pleasure to tell them that I’m now 81, and still going strong.  So they can look forward to similarly productive lives in the years ahead.

      Elin

       

      1 like

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