I was a non-traditional student that went back to college at thirty-five years of age after a divorce as an adult. In the middle of financial hardships and social devastation due to my situation, I needed a new direction and a way to improve my outlook. While working a full time job, I searched for a program that would cater to adult students and not put me back on a campus with teenagers. Not only did I find the program I needed, I graduated in May of 2009 with a BS in Business Management- a degree I had given up on when life had too much promise and too many possibilities for me to maintain an education mindset. I am glad I finished my degree. I would not recommend this path to younger students. I found out the hard way that the easy way is to obtain your education while you are younger.
I will never obtain an advanced degree. At almost forty-five years of age I have a mortgage payment, a household to run on my own, and ten years under my belt in a career as a Technical Writer. While experience counts, I have had to pay the price of learning without going through the ivy covered halls most of my life. The average cost of a basic college degree in 2014-2015 according to U.S. News is $31,381 USD. That cost does not include further schooling for advanced degrees. Still funding student loans from my partial education in my teenage years and early twenties, I cannot afford the difference in the time it would take to earn the advanced degree, the monetary investment necessary, and the cost of my wages that will be needed for retirement diverted to further my studies.
When I was nineteen, I wanted to be in the performing arts and I was studying psychology and business in college. The world was a grand adventure. By the time I was twenty-five I discovered I was not cut out for acting or performance and that going back to school was next to impossible. I did not pursue education in my youth. Because of this, my education cost more and furthered my answers in life less.
I would ask younger students to respect this: there is no substitute for education and experience is a hard teacher. I do not believe that experience does not teach knowledge and lessons worth learning. I do believe that education increases knowledge and skills and prepares people for experience. “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” (quoted from Bobby Unser). In a world where the prices for learning are never cheap, it is necessary for us to realize that we will all eventually grow in knowledge and wisdom. There are simply better and easier educational paths to take to the holy grail of understanding and these ways should not be abandoned- if they are, believe me, we return to them later and I, for one, regret the time lost along the way.