Why at 57?

I’ve been asked numerous times “Why are you going back to college at your age?” so I decided to answer that question. Actually, there are a variety of reason. Here are a few of them:

I’ve always felt like I left something undone and now I’m going to finish what I started. During my growing up years, my dad always complained that he never got his high school diploma. Although he was extremely intelligent, it always bothered him. I kept telling him to quit complaining about it and go get one, but he never did. So when I heard myself doing the same thing about my college degree, I decided I needed to listen to my own words!

I’ve always loved learning. When I was in college, though, I was too excited to be away from home to appreciate my studies. Now that I am back in school, I am enjoying the challenge of learning new things. Even though I am a published writer, this is a chance to learn more about my craft, improve my skills and expand my area of influence in writing.

A college degree has become like a high school diploma. The current thinking is that if you don’t have one, you must not be very smart and you certainly won’t be a success. I know this is not true as I know many successful people without college degrees and some unsuccessful people WITH college degrees. However, this is my chance to remedy the fact that I don’t have one.

Another reason is that my daughter, who is a lot like me only a bit smarter, also quit college. Although she took college more seriously than I and made excellent grades, she also decided to deviate from her original plan. Therefore, she lost her scholarship money and was never able to go back. I asked her if she wanted to go back with me. She did. So I paid her way, too, until she got her scholarship back. (She is now on total scholarship, grants, and loans.) Going back to college at the same time as my daughter is quite an adventure because we’re both very competitive! We compare GPAs and honor society memberships all the time. (I’m losing – but only because of my GPA from the 60’s and 70’s!) It also gives us something new to talk about and we’re getting to know each other better as adults instead of as mom and child. That’s a wonderful side benefit.

Finally, here’s a reason I didn’t think about until after I started. There are a lot of hurting people in these classrooms. As I talk with the kids, I discover that many of them are living a life of no hope. They are disillusioned with the world, the media, the government, church, and life itself. They have money, technology, and “freedom” to have sex and do whatever else they want in a world with no rules; but something’s missing. Maybe God has put me on a college campus, today, to be their friend, to encourage them and to share with them how God has filled that “hole” in my life. 

Those are a few of my reasons to go back to college. I could probably think of a dozen more. The bottom line is that I am at the time of life when I have the time, the money, and the interest to pursue my unfinished, college degree. And with God by my side, helping me along, I am looking forward to the task.



  1. Hi, I am 56 years old married to the same man for thirty six years and have four grown children.My dad wanted me to become a school teacher so I went to college in the sixties but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a teacher. I dropped out after two years and got married. In the mid seventies I wanted to become a nurse so I went to a technical school and got my Licensed Practical Nursing diploma. I only worked a few months in a pediatricians office when I found out I was pregnant with our second child. I quit work and became a full time mom and raised four children. When my youngest started school I went back to work as an LPN. Finally after fifteen years working as an LPN I decided to go to college and get my RN degree. I wil be starting in the RN program in May 2008. I am presently finishing my last prerequisite college class for the RN program. I am glad I saw your video on Good Morning America because sometimes I wondered if very many people my age returned to college. I like nursing and by being an RN I will be able to work in more areas in this field. Seeing your video on GMA has encouraged me to keep going and that I am not the only one returning to college in the later years of life.

  2. Hi,
    I saw the piece that GMA did on you on the very day that I was leaving my youngest child, daughter, at NYU!!! I am still extremely raw by the whole thing. I have a wonderful husband of 27 years and although I am already an RN I look forward to the next semester when I can go back to school to further my education. I was encouraged and motivated by your story. We need more stories like yours to let everyone know that its never too late to keep learning.



  3. I watched the GMA story on the internet. It’s nice to see something that reminds me of my mom. We both finished at The University of Tulsa on the same day. She was 56, I was 23. That was 1983. And since that time I have used her, and now you, as an example to my younger friends. It’s never too late to learn. You will never find the time so just get started. One class a semester will get you there. I’ve even gone back to start a different program. This time I going with nursing. It was journalism and business before. Just stick in there. At this age, the humanities are a breaze.

  4. It is the day after Christmas, 2007. I was walking around the house after my husband of 22 years (2nd marriage) left for work – and I got this familiar feeling of emptiness. I, too never finished my degree. I am 56 and sell a dorm room divider to college students on Ebay. I designed because my daughter needed something for privacy when she went away to school.
    I am also a Substitute Teacher. I was in corporate America as an advertising copywriter for more than 25 years. I am also a published writer – I’ve even won awards for some of my freelance work.
    I truly love the Substitute Teaching work that I do. But I hate wearing the little badge they gave me that identifies me as an Emergency Substitute teacher. The other subs with degrees have badges that read “degreed.” So sometimes, I don’t even wear my ID badge because when the other teachers read it their attitudes seem to change – as if to say “what is she doing here, she doesn’t even have a degree!”
    My dad always wanted me to be a teacher.
    I am now an empty nester and wanting to finish my degree. These posts have so encouraged me. I don’t know where I will get the money.
    But I’m going to start looking. If you have ideas, let me know!
    (I have never written anything so personal in my life!)
    Peggy in Memphis – yes, Graceland!

  5. […] to school at age 57.  She got her daughter to go back to school at the same time.  Cindy wrote a blog about the story.  The popular television show, Good Morning America, caught wind of the story and […]

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