Going Back to College at (Almost) 40
When my older children were young, I worked full-time, attended school, and coordinated daycare, doctor’s appointments, school functions, cleaning the house, etc. I was in my early 20’s and don’t remember having a certain system, I just wanted to give my children a better life so I just did it. Once, a friend told me I was inspiring and she couldn’t figure out how I juggled it all. My mind couldn’t develop an answer. I saw it as not having an option.
Fast forward 15 years later…I have two Associates degrees, a Bachelor’s degree, and a Master’s degree. In high school, we were told that having a Master’s degree would bring $80,000/year salaries with exciting jobs. That didn’t happen for me. After I graduated I was laid off and out of work for 2 ½ years. I was either overqualified because of my degree, or underqualified because of my lack of management experience. When I finally found a job, it was for $10/hour, but I didn’t care. I had babies to feed.
I have a very strong work ethic, I’m organized, and I get along with just about everyone…but I have always been stuck in secretarial-type jobs. I fell into my current position as an Office Manager for an office that organizes cremations. I never thought I would love this job, but I feel like I have finally found my calling. To move up, I need to get ANOTHER Associates degree in Funeral Services…so in May, I’m going back to college.
I work for a really great company with a tuition reimbursement program for college classes. The reimbursement amounts are based on grades, so I’m even more motivated to study my heart out (though I’m an extreme Type-A perfectionist so I would work hard anyway). I have to earn all A’s to be able to earn back the money I’ve put on my credit card, which will be put towards the next semester’s classes.
I am really excited to go back to school. I have always loved to learn new things and always look for ways to learn more. However, I’m still scared. I’m not in my early 20’s anymore. I will be 40 in September and now, not only do I work full-time, but I have children in two separate households, my 9-year old wants to be involved in sports, and I’ve started a blog. How do you go back to school when you already have so much going on?
YOU JUST DO IT!!
I had to not think about all of the reasons I couldn’t go back to school, and just focus on the need to do it. If I get this degree, I will be more of an asset for this company that I love, and will have so many more opportunities.
Michelle, Should I Go Back to School?
Yes! Have you reached a point where you feel like you’re in a rut? Do you feel like you can’t move in your current job? Are you bored? These are all reasons why right now is the PERFECT time to go back to school. Yes, you will be scared…but when you start and realize you really can do this…the excitement will motivate you in every area in your life. We always feel that we can’t add one more thing to our schedules…and then we are forced to (divorce, death in a family, position closing, company closing, etc.), and you realize you should have made the decision a long time ago.
But, Michelle, what if I don’t need another degree?
Then just take a class or two. Are there Microsoft Office classes you could use more work on? Is there a new software your company wants to use, and they need someone with knowledge of the technical aspects? What about coaching or interpersonal skills? Talk to your supervisor, or a mentor, and ask what they suggest.
Michelle, I can’t afford to go back to school!
Neither could I. I loved that my company had such a great tuition reimbursement program, but I had to be able to pay for the classes before I could take and get reimbursed for them. Don’t give up! My husband, who is super supportive (mainly because he thinks it will be hot to be married to a college student…smh), and I sat down to brainstorm ideas on how I could take classes. He came up with the idea of signing up for a pre-paid credit card when our tax returns came in. Holy Cow…what a great idea! That way, we wouldn’t spend the money in the time between receiving the return, and class registration. It worked perfectly!
I start classes on May 15, so stay tuned to hear more about this new adventure.
Have you decided to go back to school? What fears did you have?