Going back to college at 40

I was 17 when I first attended college – right out of high school hoping to become an English teacher.  There was not too much I enjoyed about that experience.  Though my roommate and I had been friends when we decided to room together we had a falling out about half way through the first semester and the room was always tense.  At the time I was engaged to my first husband and he didn’t like that I was away from him (college was about 2 hours away from home).  It was the first time I got a taste of his controlling and possessiveness.  We had quite a few relationship problems through that first semester which caused me untold amounts of stress.

As a high school student I easily coasted through my classes with minimal work and above average grades.  Suddenly having to WORK for my grades totally threw me and I was a very unhappy camper.  Being unhappy with the amount of work I needed to do I decided to stop going to class cause, hey, there was no one there to tell me to get up and go to my 8 am gym class!

In the end I returned home after one semester, encouraged by my boyfriend.  The best thing that happened to me that semester in 1990 was I met my BFF (who I went to Ireland with in October 2012) and she is a true sister of my heart.

A few years later I ended up in business school and successfully obtained a Paralegal Certificate.  Being a bit older I was more disciplined and obtained very good grades.  However I ended up in a catch-22 situation.  In order to obtain a job as a Paralegal I needed to have practical experience as a Paralegal.  That was something I wasn’t able to get because I was working while attending school.  After that I ended up as a clerk in the records department for a large insurance company.

1994 saw me living in the Adirondack mountains with my first husband, working as a nurse’s aid in a local nursing home.  I figured I’d give college a try again, this time to become a Registered Nurse.  Since becoming a nurse’s aid I discovered I really loved taking care of people in that capacity.  I made it through about half a semester before I found out I was pregnant and discovered that being pregnant and dissecting fetal pigs did NOT mix.

That was my last college experience for quite some time.  Being a mother, wife and a full-time employee pretty took up every last second I had.

I was employed by a large insurance company working as a Disability Case Manager.  It was, on paper, an excellent job.  The people I worked with were great.  Overall I enjoyed what my job was supposed to be and I was very, very good at it.  Sadly the job itself was stressful by nature.  Dealing with nearly 100 people who were sick or recovering from surgery or injury and depended on me for a paycheck was difficult.  Throw in the need to work with various doctors offices to obtain medical information, following the contract each employer had with my employer, follow rapidly changing federal and local laws, increasingly high expectations for production from my employer and I was growing more and more unhappy.

My job was glancing off the medical field – I field I had previously enjoyed being involved in.  I started to think about a career change that would require going back to school.  So in 2010 I enrolled full time in my local community college hoping to become a RN.

Now, I have a serious problem with moderation.  Pretty much everything I do is balls-to-the-wall.  This was no exception.  So back to school full time after 20 years away.  While working a very stressful full time job.  My kids were older (the baby was 15) but still needed me and of course I had a husband and a home.

I managed a full year with a 4.0 GPA and I really enjoyed my classes.  I was excited to learn new things and be working towards a long time dream of mine.  However a few weeks into my third semester I hit a wall.  It was hard and it was messy.  I spent two weeks coming home from from class and breaking down in hysterics.  My poor husband spent so much time calming me down.

See, I have a history of depression that had been fairly well controlled.  Increasing job stress and 80-hour weeks wrecked me and I hit an all time low.  Though I didn’t admit it to anyone I was suicidal.  I ended up withdrawing from school to focus on work.

It took me almost two years to recover from what I had done to myself.  Doctor’s appointments, medication changes, therapy, a job change and a decision to quit work.  Finally I was emotionally healthy again.  And ready to go back to school.

January 2013 I returned to college as a full time student with 17.5 credit hours.  I’m the oldest person in all of my classes.  Because I am taking day time rather than night classes I’m with those that are pretty fresh out of high school or transferred in from other colleges.  There are a few returning adult students but so far…yeah…I’m the oldest at 40.

This time around I’m hopeful and I’m focused.  My baby will be graduating June of this year and I’ve already got two kids that are in college full time.  When I go back in August for my next semester four out of our family of five will be full time college students.  Wow.

My two year degree will most like take closer to five years total. I’ve been out of school so long there are quite a few courses I need to take before I can even touch the classes I need for the degree I want.  While I’m still planning on being a RN I’m also open to change.

If you want, you can call this my New Year’s Resolution – finally completing my education.

Category: Scraps
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