Campus Commentary

Thoughts from a 50-Year-Old College Student


As I walk through the halls of UCBA and enter crowded classrooms, my thoughts always turn to a few things.  Not only do I wonder how hard the class is going to be, but I wonder what my fellow classmates are thinking.  Who is this lady that is old enough to be my mom?  Is she the professor?  What is she doing here?  Well, I’ll tell you.

When I graduated high school back in 1986, I decided I did not need to go to college.  I was going to get a job, work hard, and move up the ladder toward success.  Getting a degree at a “real” college seemed like something I couldn’t manage, despite the fact that I had wanted to be a teacher for as long as I could remember.  One year later, I enrolled at Cincinnati State where I ended up graduating in three years with a degree in Computer Information Systems.  I landed a great job at a jewelry manufacturing company where I still decided to climb up the ladder to success.  While dedicating myself to my work, I married and had three children.  While my job wasn’t something I had always wanted to do, I had to keep it because I had a family to take care of.  I worked for that company for 27 years and through a few promotions, landed an upper management position making a very nice salary.

So let’s fast forward to now.  I have been divorced for 5 years.  My children are now 23, 22 and 13.  My oldest daughter graduated in 2017 from University of Toledo with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and it made me think to myself, “Is it my turn? How much longer should I wait?”  Then I thought, “My time is now!”  When would be a better time to take the jump and return to school?  What was my motivation?  Why now?  I had worked in such a fast paced, margin and sales driven job with very little intrinsic reward.  At the age of 50, I asked myself, “Did I want to do this for the rest of my life?”

Then I quit my job.

Am I crazy?  At the age of 50, I left a good paying job with flexibility for my home life and a lot of traveling.  Yes, I did that!   I enrolled full time in the spring of 2018.  I was so nervous. Was I going to be able to find my classes?  Am I going to get judging looks and stares from my fellow students?  Can I do this after 32 years?  Yes, I found my classes.  Yes, I was surely the oldest student in the classroom and no, I do not know what Blackboard, Kahoot and APA mean.  The first few weeks were difficult, and I was completely lost.  I didn’t fit in, at all.  Did I make a mistake?  I was walking through the halls and thinking to myself, what am I doing here?  Should I take on-line classes only?  What do the other students think of my leap of faith?

I worked HARD and earned all As in my classes and believe it or not, made a few friends.  My youngest daughter now calls me a “try-hard” and my oldest says I am “one of those kids.” I take every single assignment that I complete so seriously and do not miss a class.  There was one thing I completely missed when assessing my ability to return to school.  I didn’t even take into consideration when asking myself all those doubtful questions, what I had learned and earned over the last 30 years. Even though I am out of the loop when it comes to technology and format, I have something a lot of other students do not have: Life experience.

I do take this adventure more seriously than most students.  Today, I have two kids that live at home (one that still requires help with her homework), a house payment to make, a huge yard to take care of, a 45-minute drive to campus and I am working on a consulting business from home.  It has been quite a task to reach out to companies and get work, but I know I must hang in there.

I am starting my sophomore year now in the hopes of becoming a middle school math teacher, what I have always wanted.  I really enjoy my classes and have learned a tremendous amount in a short period of time.  I feel awake and open to so many new thoughts and ideas.  So, when you see the lady old enough to be your mom walking through the halls and sitting in class and think to yourself, why is she back in college, that is why.

About Amy Hester

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