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Higher Education After 50

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My sister is 59 years old. She worked her way through college while working, and by the time she finished her masters she was in her mid-forties and had her second child. Now at 59, she is finishing off her thesis or dissertation. While she pursued her dream to higher education, she was also handling her responsibilities at home and a job to support her family.

I took my own time to graduate from an AAS degree in my mid-thirties. I dreamed of going back to school one day once the kids grew up. Now in my early 50s I decided to go back to school. I have my fears regarding finances, work load, time management, family responsibilities and health issues, but I decided if I don't go on with my wish for higher studies now, I will probably not have another chance at it.

Studies after the 50s is not very easy, but not impossible. With proper planning and implementation, one can achieve their goals much easier. Going to college is a very exciting experience for everyone at any age. However, some of the issues that come to the surface are age, adjustment, finances, family life and relationships, time management and health issues.

Age factor: It used to be only people who graduated from high school or returned to school in their twenties that fit in perfectly with the age group of college students. They could make friends, socialize, study in groups, share rooming and boarding and develop relationships. At age 50, not very many people think of returning to school. But as time goes by, more and more people in their thirties, 40s and 50s, or even in 60s, are wanting to go back for different reasons. Sitting in a class full of a bunch of teenagers or twenty year olds does not have to be a traumatizing experience anymore. Making friendships and participating in study groups are not age related. Currently, a certain respect for fellow students who are older is evident on college campuses.

Adjustment: Adjusting ourselves to the day-to-day class schedules, timings, college environment, life style and eating habits could be hard at first. We are so used to following office schedules, coming home to relax in front of the television, cooking, going to bed early, completing housework and taking care of bills. Now, we are in a different world where studies take priority. We don't have to think about running with work schedules, but we worry about tests, homework, assignments, projects, reports and computer labs. Sometimes it can be even more stressful than just working and coming home. We are on the constant run to meet deadlines. If we stay home and go to college, we have to readjust our schedules and habits according to our study schedules.

Finances: Leaving a perfect money-fetching job and going into student life has its own burden. Figuring out how to come up with finances to fund living and educational expenses when we should be thinking about our retirement funds is difficult. Federal financial aid programs, pell grants and scholarships at work are available for people who want to go back to school at different ages. Paying off house loans or refinancing, paying off car payments, incorporating insurance benefits into finances and saving up money as a cushion besides loans and grants are ways of dealing with finances. Some people may also choose to work part time in order to support expenses such as gas and groceries.

Family issues: Relationships with husbands, young children, other family members and friends could be affected by different school and study schedules. Spending quality time together may be compromised with study times. Not being able to do certain activities with significant others could put a lot of strain on relationships. Arranging our study schedules in a way to create some free time at home on a weekly basis or during weekends would help the situation. Explaining your goals about higher education and the benefits of achieving those goals in the long run to your loved ones helps most of the time.

Time Management: Time management is extremely important when transitioning from work to studies. Keeping up with assignments is crucial in achieving good grades. In the beginning, it might be hard and confusing to program our minds into becoming students after many years of work. We tend to procrastinate because we are not used to doing paperwork and homework assignments, and we are more inclined towards just crashing in front of the television and relaxing until we fall asleep on the couch. Depending on the course load, it is wise to schedule our study times on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis so we don't fall behind.

Health Issues: For people like me who have serious health issues such as heart problems and diabetes, getting into higher education might be a challenge. We not only have to take care of our health, but also need to balance nutrition, exercise and studies on a daily basis. We need to constantly remind ourselves that health comes first. While setting aside a certain time for exercise is a great idea, alternatives should be looked into when it is not possible. Walking from class to class on campus, taking the stairs, enrolling in a physical education class and using the campus gym are some ways to not only to relieve stress but to also maintain health. Campus cafeterias offer a variety of food choices including organic health foods. Choosing the right foods to maintain energy and health is possible. Taking food from home to school is a great way to not only save money, but to also eat in set proportions.

With proper planning, education is not hard to achieve for people over their 50s. Balancing stress and health are important factors. Whether one is looking for self-satisfaction or career opportunities, education paves the road for success. Everyone deserves to have an education regardless of their age. In the end, it is what makes us happy in life that counts because, OUR LIFE MATTERS.

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I think its a great thing to join school after 50. Its a great effort by you. I am having information of a blog that can certainly help someone to study online. It will help the person definitely when he/she is unable to join institutions.

February 26, 2013 - 3:51am
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