Back to School—at Any Age
March 1986

“Back to School—at Any Age,” Ensign, Mar. 1986, 75

Back to School—at Any Age

On my first day back to college I was in no hurry to find a parking place. It had been fifteen years since I had attended as a full-time student, and I wasn’t at all sure I would still fit in.

We often think of college as a place only for the young. I have heard friends express such concerns as, “I can’t go back to school; I don’t have enough confidence or money,” “I’ve forgotten how to study,” “It’s been so many years that I’ve forgotten what I was interested in,” and “Where would I find the energy and time to do homework?”

The best way to put such fears behind you is to dive in. If that’s too scary, then wade in, or just put one foot in and test the water. If you’re nervous about going back to school, there are several ways to make the “plunge” easier. Here are some ideas:

1. If you work, check with your employer to see if the company offers financial help as an incentive to employees to upgrade their job skills. I was able to finish several business courses this way. Some companies will even pay for college or university courses. Check into it; returning to school may be less expensive than you think.

2. Take night classes at a community college. You can pick up a schedule or have one mailed to you. Many courses can be transferred later to a university. Don’t be surprised if you walk into a group that is predominantly over thirty! Night classes are popular for those who work during the day or who are returning to school after several years.

3. Try summer school. Summer classes are concentrated into a shorter time period, but they are often less crowded. And don’t overlook correspondence or home study classes. I took a child development class while learning how to care for our first child and found myself keenly interested in the text.

4. Start with a subject that has always fascinated you. Many schools offer classes in “non-academic” subjects like flower arranging and camping.

5. Audit a class. With this option, you can attend without worrying about being graded. Then, if you find you can tackle the course, take it again for credit.

6. If you have special expertise in a particular field, ask about challenging the course. You may be able to receive full or partial credit without even taking the class.

7. If you’re not sure how or where to begin, talk to a counselor. The number of students reentering college is growing, and many schools have counselors who specialize in helping such students design courses of study. There’s an advantage to more maturity; you know yourself well enough to know what your real interests are.

Will you fit in? Certainly. You may have a bit more gray in your hair, but it won’t have any effect on your mental capacity.

I am not sorry I went back to school. I have found that I can balance my church work, housework, and homework satisfactorily. I have found that there is really only one insurmountable problem associated with attending college—finding a parking place! Gayle E. Walker, Portland, Oregon