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I just had a conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen for twenty-five years. She had been a nurse before having three boys and staying home to raise them. Now she is 53 years old, and returning to school to become a nurse practitioner. We talked about the changing health care system which will serve many more people in coming years with fewer doctors to do all the work. For my friend, becoming a nurse practitioner at 55 will give her at least ten years to work at a higher level of satisfaction and pay. It’s a reasonable goal for her and one she is facing with determination and pleasure. She will achieve a goal never before possible and she’ll serve her community, giving her a sense of purpose.

How about you? Have you considered going back to school? What would be the reasons for such a career change? Perhaps you’ve been through a divorce or death of a spouse. Many women have been out of the work world for many years as they raised their children and feel totally unprepared for the work world. Or, maybe your children are grown and through college and it’s time to get out of the house and find a new challenge. Maybe you gave up your own educational goals when you married or when the children came along and now you have the time and the motivation to gain some new skills you’ve always dreamed of having.

Other reasons for going back to school may be more in the realm of survival. If you’re 50 years old and the company is forcing early retirement or demanding skills you don’t possess, you may need to go back to school just to stay employable. Don’t fear—thousands are in the same boat and going back to school is not only doable, it’s also very satisfying.

My husband’s grandmother was a school teacher in early 1900’s. She began teaching in a rural school in the state of Montana at the age of 18. She had no formal training. This wonderful grandmother went back to college and graduated with her teaching credential at the age of 67! She did it to inspire her grandchildren to become lifelong learners and she had a lot of fun in the process.

Here are some things to consider if returning to school is in your future:

1)  Be very clear about your goals and your motivation. Get some help from possible institutions you will attend. They are well-versed on occupational assessments to be sure that the goal you are setting is right for you. They can guide you to refresher courses on study skills, doing research online and writing papers. They can show you the ropes in application procedures and in applying for all kinds of financial aid.

2)  Look honestly at your schedule and be sure you can fit school into it while staying afloat financially. Will you need to continue working while you study? If so, are there classes available in the evenings and on weekends? How long will your course of study last and who is “with you” in the process to help out if necessary?

3)  Finally, get in there and make the most of this opportunity. Adults in their fifties used to look toward retirement and the rocker, but no more. Fifties, sixties and seventies are decades of life full of adventure and fun. School life is interesting, challenging and the interaction with other learners can be very motivating. So set a clear goal, get guidance to put all the paperwork in place, and then work hard as you enjoy the educational process. You’ll finish with a great sense of accomplishment and family and friends just bursting with pride as well!

To read more about over-fifties going back to school go to: