Recently my Aunt graduated from nursing school at the young age of 58! She had spent her life raising children, had gone through a divorce and was ready to start a new chapter in her life. Going back to school seemed like the right choice for her, and it was! She now has a thriving career helping others. She proved that you’re always young enough to try something new! If you’ve ever considered going back to school to switch careers or complete a degree that was put on hold years ago, you CAN do it. Here are some tips to keep in mind!
Going Back to School Over 50
Check for Pell Grants and Scholarships: Before you spend any money or take out loans make sure to fill out a Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You may qualify for Pell Grants – which is basically free money for school. It also tells the school you attend what your expected input into the cost will be. Schools use this information and many scholarships ask for this information. Talk with your school about scholarships. Most financial aid offices have lists of available scholarships that are specific to their school.
Schedule a few hours a week or even daily to be alone. You may think you’ll be able to do the school work in the evenings, after work, or in between chores, but that doesn’t always happen. If you are going to school online, you need to be even more disciplined to set aside time that you can focus solely on your school work. It’s also helpful to have your own space specifically for school work.
Get Organized. Use a calendar. Prepare ahead of time. Don’t procrastinate. Part of being organized means getting on a pretty strict schedule. If you have a partner, ask for their help. Be sure that your new schedule includes meals, errands, cleaning, and time for family.
Get connected. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Connect with students in your classes. More than likely you will be required to do group projects. Use these projects to get to know people who you can reach out to for support.
Find time to breathe and take care of yourself. School and family can quickly take precedence in your life, but you need to do things just for yourself. That may be a walk around the neighborhood, exercise class, or just taking a quiet bath. You are doing something that is good for you and your family, but don’t forget to take care of you.
The bottom line – going back to school over 50 is a challenge but very doable!