Going Back to School after all these years?

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Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby snyder66 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 7:44 am

Just wondering if anyone here has gone back to school in your 40s or a similar age. If so, Was it difficult? Would you do it again? Was it worth the investment? Thanks
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby mikeast » Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:45 am

I finished my last degree at age 53. For me there was a lot of personal satisfaction but no financial gain at all. G.I. Bill paid for it and I'm sure I would not
have done it if I had to pay much out-of-pocket. One unexpected benefit is that I can help my high schooler with his Math, Science, and English homework
in ways that I couldn't have without going back to school. It was a very good experience overall.
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby Tycoon » Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:45 am

Going back to school at 42 was easier than I anticipated. I think about doing it again every now and then, but time with our teenage children is the most important thing for us right now.
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby Texas hold em71 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:35 am

Went back at 39 one or two classes at a time taking summers off. Am 42 now with two teenagers with two classes left. I have a pretty high level job in a very crazy industry as well. My employer pays for my tuition but not books.

Classes have been much easier than I remember from undergrad - probably because 20 years of work experience make most of the classes common sense to me. Can't say I enjoy writing papers with my free time. I have learned some new things but mostly I have learned that those who have the degree but not as much experience as me don't know anything I do not (a fear I used to have).

The hardest part is managing parenthood with school of my own. My kids will be gone in a few years and I don't want to miss too much.

I don't expect much financial gain from my degree- it is more like insurance since most people at m level are expected to have one.
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby fsrph » Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:53 am

snyder66 wrote:Just wondering if anyone here has gone back to school in your 40s or a similar age. If so, Was it difficult? Would you do it again? Was it worth the investment? Thanks


Not me, but two friends went back to school in their 40's to become MD's. Was it worth the investment?To them it was worth it. I guess, for you, it depends how you define "worth it". From a financial or a personal development standpoint? My friends did benefit from higher wages but they always wanted to be a MD and decided to follow their dream. Even tho they were in their 40's.

Francis
“Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.” ― Warren Buffett
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby snyder66 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:23 pm

What I struggle with is weighing the cost of school vs. finding a decent paying job in my field of study. I realize there are no guarantees.
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby texasdiver » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:50 pm

I did it at age 42.

I had a BA from a fancy private liberal arts college and a MS in marine science and fisheries from UW in Seattle. I had worked 15 years as a marine fisheries biologist in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest until getting married and seeing my wife's career bring us to Texas.

I tried doing long-distance consulting work with my old agency and that worked OK for a while but I realized I wasn't really cut out for working out of a home office and traveling all the time on business. I wanted a professional life in my own community not one 3 time zones away. So I ended up going back to school at my local community college to get a teaching certificate and now I teach HS science in a local school district where my 3 kids also attend.

The schooling itself took me a year and was no big deal as I was working professionally with skills that lended themselves readily to being a student. My prior professional life was spent in front of a computer writing long reports and complex research documents so the demands of school were pretty easy and my writing and researching skills were up to the task.

As for how things have worked out since? I got into teaching at EXACTLY the right time to find a job in the spring of 2007. The economy was booming and school districts around this part of Texas were trying desperately to find enough qualified science teachers. I put out 10 applications and got 14 job offers and was able to pick the best offer out of many choices. Some districts process hiring out of a central office so one application can generate multiple offers from different schools. Then again, I like to think I had a fairly unique background with 15 years of professional work in science compared to most of the other applicants who were fresh out of school with no work experience. But for whatever reason the decision to go back to school and change careers worked out perfectly for me.

I am now starting my 7th year of teaching and it is going well. I'm not bored and burnt out with it yet and I probably would have been had I stayed in my previous career for the last 8 years. I like having the time off and having the same schedule as my kids. And I enjoy teaching and relating to kids. It keeps me young. I can easily see keeping with it for another 10-15 years until retirement. And I am glad that my professional life had a distinct breaking point at age 40 so that I didn't spend my whole life doing the same thing in the same place.

On the downside the pay is not great. I took a pretty large cut in pay to go into teaching. The tuition costs were minimal compared to the cut in pay I took by switching careers. It wouldn't have been something I would have ever considered had I not married a doctor. My wife's income gives me the flexibility to do things like teach without completely torpedoing our family's finances. I also concluded that it only really works if one spouse has a high powered career. For the first few years of our marriage I was the one who was always traveling and working. Now my wife is the busy one. Someone has to hold down the fort and be around for the kids. I don't mind that it is me. But it means that I'm usually the one coaching youth soccer, running the kids around to sports practices, music lessons and such after school, and so on while my wife works longer hours and often comes home more exhausted.
Last edited by texasdiver on Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby Jake46 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:51 pm

Went to law school in 1981 at 35 after being a college professor for ten years. Kind of rough - I had two small kids, went to school in the day & taught university courses 4 nights a week. It was definitely worth it but wouldn't encourage anyone to go to law school now (subject of several threads).
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby BL » Sun Sep 01, 2013 12:58 pm

Yes. Some of it paid off financially, other not much, but I never regretted it.

If it is something you have always liked to do, that will help. Also, doing it while working means less financial sacrifice, but more time to complete. Quitting everything and moving involves much cost so be sure it is something you really want. Maybe try something local first to see how you like it, for instance, at a community college.
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby Pajamas » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:18 pm

I went back to school in my mid 30s and again in my very late 40s. It was definitely worth it although the financial return was questionable.
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby stan1 » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:25 pm

snyder66 wrote:What I struggle with is weighing the cost of school vs. finding a decent paying job in my field of study. I realize there are no guarantees.


You are right, a degree doesn't give any guarantees in most fields. People used to think a J.D. was a guarantee -- not any more. For a few years a Pharmacy degree was a guarantee -- not any more. An MBA is definitely not a guarantee of a higher paying job (even if its Top 10). Maybe a R.N. or an M.D. is still a guarantee if you are willing to live anywhere.

In many fields a degree may be necessary to get your foot in the door, but you have to seize the opportunity. If you proceed make sure you take advantage of every possible opportunity while working on the degree to get work experience in that field if its not related to your current job. I'd be particularly cautious of using an online degree to enter a new field.
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby Phineas J. Whoopee » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:54 pm

snyder66 wrote:Just wondering if anyone here has gone back to school in your 40s or a similar age. If so, Was it difficult? Would you do it again? Was it worth the investment? Thanks

[Emphasis added]

For an associate's? Bachelor's? Master's? JD? MD? Ph.D.? GED?

If it's a GED I say go for it immediately without hesitation.

If you're talking about college, what would you be trying to accomplish? Monetary return on investment? Increase in professional status? Personal satisfaction? Setting a good example for others? Frat parties?

I was never a 40-something university student myself but I knew and worked with people who were. The undergrads there for greater recognition reasons mostly washed out. The ones who were trying to set an example for their offspring shone. The others were mixed, but were not without their rock stars.

If it's grad school I'll say what I always say: never attend graduate school for any subject you aren't intensely interested in.

With respect to difficulty, my own experience was it's easier to be a grad student than an undergrad. The material is far more intellectually challenging and far more is asked of one. On the other hand one focuses on one's intense interest (with maybe a few classes here or there which simply must be endured, like reading competence in a third language for Ph.D.s without strong linguistic interests).

Undergrads can complain and rebel. Grad students study at the pleasure of the senior faculty. They'll ask you to leave. If you don't, they'll tell the registrar not to let you back. They'll call the cops. The absence of ordinary, expected adult dignity drove away many of those I knew who didn't finish.

Every waking moment, and believe me plenty of dreaming ones, will be totally devoted to your area of study. But you won't have to deal with, for example, a biology distribution requirement which grosses you out in the dissection lab.

MDs excepted, of course.

I have not in all my years as a student, university staff member, and teacher seen a grad student without strong interest succeed. A few barely graduated, but in their cases I wouldn't call it success. All they'd done is condemned themselves to work for decades in fields they couldn't stand.

PJW
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby pjstack » Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:30 am

When I graduated from college in 1957 (BS, mechanical engineering) I barely squeaked through (103 out of 104)!!

When I went (via G.I. bill) again at 50 yrs. old it was amazing what maturity and a real interest in subject matter could do. Although I was apprehensive at first it turned out to be a piece of cake; almost all A's, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Being a grown-up is a real advantage! (So is actually reading the text books.)
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby Jazztonight » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:02 am

I've been encouraging people to go back to college ever since I did myself at the age of 54. But the difference is, I went back to get a BA degree in a field very much different from my previous education/degrees.

I entered a state university in 2000 and 4 years later had a degree in music composition.

Without hesitation, I can say those 4 years were some of the best of my life. I worked hard, got excellent grades, made new friends, played and wrote a lot of music, and cannot say enough about how the experience rejuvenated me in the truest sense of the word--I became more youthful!

But if you're thinking of returning to college so you can make more money, that's another story. Perhaps an RN degree might work. Biotechnology? There are few guarantees these days. Sorry.

You need to do specific research and perhaps go into a field you've never considered.

I wish you all the best.

btw, I am recently retired from my previous profession and am now a full time composer and performer 8-) Is that cool, or what? Sometimes it's not about the money.
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." Nietzsche
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby lwfitzge » Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:18 am

I went back at age 44 to get my MBA from University of Michigan. I was a R&D exec in pharma w a PhD already. Was it worth it. well I would not trade the life experiences I had those two years for anything and it gave me the courage and credibility to quite corporate life and be an entrepreneur. Was it worth it in dollars and cents... I don't really care at my current financial position (i.e., hit my number), it was about new life experiences for me.

My wife also a PhD scientist and research scientist in pharma. She left got her RN at 45 and went for MSN to be a primary care nurse practitioner at 48. It was worth it financially for her as state school tuition was cheap and she landed in a hot and stable career.
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby snyder66 » Mon Sep 02, 2013 9:52 am

I have a Culinary Arts degree and I'm considering going back for my Bachelors in Nutrition.
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby SnapShots » Mon Sep 02, 2013 10:56 am

I finally finished my degree in my early 40s. Very satisfying. Glad I did it. Wasn't easy but persistence got me there. I've always been self employed and it did help me in business. Journalism, writing skills and marketing helpful if self employed, but you can't get much of a job with that degree.

If you're going to work for someone, or trying to get a better job....you need a skill such as a IT degree or certificate. I'd look at Vo-Tech schools, if that is your goal.
the best decision many times is the hardest to do
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby tibbitts » Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:11 am

Going back to school hasn't gotten any easier since you've posted the question in previous years.

Paul
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Re: Going Back to School after all these years?

Postby Sam I Am » Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:32 am

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