Is It Possible To Go Back to School At My Age?
At 45 years old, I found myself a single mom of two boys, still struggling, 14 years after my divorce. My boys were now 16 and 20. I always wanted them to believe that they could do anything they set their minds to. I wanted them to know that no obstacles could prevent them from success. But had I been a living testament to those claims? The answer was no, I had not.
The truth was, I had worked very hard to provide for my boys. In that aspect, I was successful. I kept a roof over our heads and food on the table. My boys didn't have everything they wanted, but they had everything they needed. But even still, they watched me struggle to pay the bills.
They saw me miss out on events because of my working extra jobs to survive. They heard me come home late at night, crying, from my feet hurting so badly. They saw the stress in my eyes as I tried to make a budget work, that just wasn't possible. And I saw the disappointment in their eyes when I couldn't afford certain things they wanted. In that aspect, I feel that I failed.
One day I decided enough was enough. My oldest son was still living at home but working to pay for his own car. My youngest son was in High School. I knew going back to school would be a struggle, but I wanted to check into it and see if it was possible. I knew that if I had to attend day classes, then I would have to cut back hours at my dental job. I also knew that I could pick up extra night and weekend shifts at the restaurant I was working at. I would not be home much, but my boys were old enough to make it without me home.
Then I wondered if it would be worth it. The main reason I wanted to go back to school was to increase my salary to help my boys. By the time I would graduate, they would be grown. But as I thought it all out, I realized that the main reason wasn't to increase my salary, but to prove that all things are possible. I wanted to show my boys that even in the most difficult circumstances, to never give up on trying to improve yourself.
So, I did it. I went on a tour of a campus, gathered information, and wanted to go home and think about it. Little did I realize that classes were set to start in three days. Suddenly I was pushed to make a decision, start now, or wait til next year. Three days later, I found myself in a situation that would forever change my life.
With school, came many challenges that I hadn't thought of. It wasn't just the economic stress of cutting back work hours, but the added bills of classes, books, and supplies. Jumping in quickly was probably best for me because I over analyze everything. If I had crunched the numbers and given it enough thought, I would have never enrolled. I would have played it safe. however, what I didn't research was that the school I chose was a for profit school. As an adult student and a single mom, I qualified for many scholarships and grants.But those scholarships and grants don't apply at for profit schools.
Another thing I did not consider, was study time. I arranged many extra shifts, to have enough money for bills and still have time for classes. After working three jobs and going to class full time, I barely had time to sleep. These were not easy classes. Microbiology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Radiology, just to name a few, required study time, homework and projects to be completed.
With all of this in mind, you might think I would have given up. I did not. I pressed on. I worked very hard. I had many sleepless nights. My social life no longer existed. I saw my family in passing. I no longer ate healthy, I never exercised, and i increased caffeine by massive amounts.
Three years later, I graduated as the Class of 2019, Valedictorian. I received the Academic Excellence Award for the highest grade point average, the Hu-Freidy Golden Scaler Award, for the highest clinical scores, and the Jordan Nelson Perseverance Award, for overcoming obstacles to succeed.
I am now six months post graduation. My oldest son has a successful job and is living independently. My youngest son, just completed his freshman year of college with a 4.3 GPA. I am living in a beautiful apartment overlooking the city of Nashville, TN. I have a great job, with great benefits, and I'm only working 4 days per week. I will never say it was easy. But I will say it was worth it. I can now look at my boys with sincerity and say, "You can do anything you set your mind to".