Enjoying the Simple Pleasures of Life, While Living in a Complicated World

Going to College at Age 51…”What was I thinking???”

The irony of life, is we will experience several major changes in our lives. Some changes are by choice, some are not. At the age of 51, I decided to go to college. I needed to get a degree to be able to become viable in the current economic market.

If you’re considering going back to college, for the first time, after many years or after a layoff ….. things have changed. Oh, boy… have they ever!

When I was in high school, most young women were more likely to get married, stay home and raise a family than attend college after graduation.  I had taken a few, sporadic college classes. However, the demands of my family and my parents prevented me from returning full-time.

Now, at the age of 51, I was returning to college with the goal of graduating with a degree in computer forensics. What I found particularly amusing in registering with the college and going through the admission process,  I was now a ‘mature student’ in the eyes of the college administration and faculty. More about being a ‘mature student in later posts…

I realized I would be attending classes and competing with students several decades younger than myself. It was at that point, when I began having doubts…

Would I be able to keep up?

Would I be able to succeed?

In fact, what I really was wondering…

Was I too old to return to college and get a degree?

I was now an official college student and had to register for classes. I cautiously chose two: American Government, a Monday evening class; and Computer Operating System, a Thursday afternoon class. Talk about left and right brain classes! If I wanted to obtain a degree in computer forensics, I thought taking Computer Operating Systems would be the place to start. American Government would be interesting and the fact it was Monday nights, intrigued me. Perhaps, there would be more ‘mature students’ taking classes in the evening? I was about to find out.

I registered for my classes and mentally took note…my first semester of college was to begin in January of 2009. I would begin my college education at the age of 51 wondering, “What was I thinking?”


6 responses

  1. Reiko Romero

    Hello, Annie.
    I also went back to school in my 50’s. I am 55 and am almost done with my first semester of online school with Guilford Technical Community College. I am working towards my Associates in General Studies and may transfer to University when I am done. I may be 80 before I earn my first paycheck who knows? Can’t say I didn’t give it all I had.

    My story is quite a long one but in a nutshell.. Dad’s alcoholism played a huge part in my education during the formative years. I dropped out of high school after failing all my classes during the last two semesters of my Jr. year high school. This was due to a very disturbing and dysfunctional home life. When Mom finally moved out (abandoning us children) and Dad hooked up with a barfly who didn’t want to have anything to do with me I was left homeless at 16. I was on my own with all the challenges that came with being alone. That was the end of my education until 2 years ago when at the age of 53 I went and got my GED. It took me all the courage I could muster to do it but I did it! I have had such strong fears around school. I actually used to get stomach aches when I entered into a school. There was so much turmoil in my childhood home I didn’t even know when I went to school what class I was suppose to be in. I had SO much fear around asking teachers questions or “getting in trouble.” I acutally loved but hated school if you can read between the lines on that one. Thank God for my physical education teacher Ms. Jones who took me under her wing and helped me when she could.

    So you see, I know all about fears and anxiety over school….especially school at 55! So far I am loving it and doing very well. Ask me next semester when I have a full load. Haha. You started your college career with “What was I thinking”. I started mine with the same thought with a little twist, “What was I thinking, what am I thinking, full steam ahead!” Full steam ahead for both of us my friend.

    October 15, 2010 at 10:45 am

    • Reiko Romero

      The post on school was my first ever entry on a blog. Was that okay? : ) Is there some type of protocol I’m suppose to follow?

      October 15, 2010 at 10:46 am

      • Reiko…it was lovely!

        October 15, 2010 at 3:45 pm

      • Reiko,
        Thank you!! It means a lot to me…since we’re both in school!!

        October 21, 2010 at 5:56 pm

      • Excellent! I love it when people are willing to post their own personal story!

        October 21, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    • Sue


      Wow you have an amazing story. I can relate to the dysfunctional part. My dad was a chronic alcoholic and I was told from the time I was young to 15 that I was stupid and never going to amount to anything. I too went back to school in my 50’s. I was blessed by meeting some very strong women. Annie being one of them. Everytime, I was ready to give up they were right there holding me up and telling me I’m a smart lady and I can do this. I actually was on the Dean’s list a couple of times. I cherish my girlfriends. I have one more class, but unfortunately I need to find employment first, but I need to get my butt in gear and get signed up this fall, so I can finish this degree.
      I found the young people were a lot of fun to work with. Yes there were a couple that I wish that I could of knocked them over the head, but for the most part the ones I met were awesome. The instructors often were more helpful because they knew I was serious about the subject.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm

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