Back to school - the middle-aged edition

OK, so I’m getting nervous now.

I’m nearly 45, and the last time I was in a formal educational situation was about half my lifetime ago (got an AAS in 1993). I start classes on the 25th at one of our local community colleges, pursuing a certificate program to qualify as a full-charge bookkeeper. Hey, my employer (a job training program) is paying for it and I think it’s something I have some aptitude for.

My worry at this point is how in the bleep to juggle everything!!! Last time I was in college, I lived with my grandfather, and aside from helping with housework/pet care, not a huge domestic load. For one year, I was working full-time (graveyard in a 7-11) while carrying a full-time credit load during the day, but that managed to be somewhat workable. Of course, Mt. Dew and Vivarin were pretty much a food group that year.

Now, I’m a good deal older, working 28 hours/week plus dealing with a commute that eats more time, and running a household. DH is also currently a student and has no domestic aptitude (he can handle carrying out a “please do” list, but doesn’t have a lot of initiative). He’ll also be facing finding a job around the end of October, when his trade school program finishes.

My brain says that my greater experience at life management plus a lighter work schedule (and an employer who treats my school as part of my job, thus prioritizing it) should make life a bit easier when it comes to organizing all this. Anxiety and other emotional difficulties are predicting something totally disintegrating, be it household, marriage, my mind…

I’m already loading classes, appointments, etc., and to-do list into Google Calendar and doing my best to plan ahead, but I have this very nasty sense that I’m failing to spot some HUGE complication (and another sense that some part of my mind is coming up with a fictional “very nasty sense” to hassle me).

I’m not sure whether I’m asking for advice or just venting, really.

I think you’ll do fine. First couple weeks will be hectic while you settle into a new normal, then you’ll be fine. If your honey really is good with a “honey do” list, make sure to keep one up for him and give him stuff to do daily. Much easier than trying to do it all yourself or leaving it for him to “figure out” which we all know won’t happen!

Good luck! Sounds like you’ve got a home base to support you.

So this college stuff is part of your current job, right? Your boss is paying for it, and willing to arrange your work duties so you can attend class?

So what are you worried about?!
Just treat the classes as part of your regular job. Sure, learning new things is more difficult than doing your routine job. But sometimes at work you have days that are more difficult and require more concentration than others, right? So treat the days when you have a college lecture the same way.

For comparison:
Imagine that, instead of going to college, you switched jobs completely. People do that all the time, and deal with a lot more stress . You would have to learn everything all over (adjust to a new company, new boss, new work load, new responsibilities, new procedures,etc)
Going to college in your circumstances sounds like it will be easier than, say, starting a new job.
And of course there will be homework, which means you’ll have less free time with your family—so tell them in advance, so they will have reasonable expectations of you, too.

Sounds like a great situation to be in—moving up in the world, with a supportive environment behind you, and no debt involved. What have you got to lose?
Good luck!

hope the venting helped since we don’t seem to have any advice. I went to school when I was young and again when I was about your age and there is a big difference.

you take it seriously so that’s good but you tire out faster so that’s bad. don’t be surprised if it is even harder than you thought - but worth it.

good luck and remember to take care of yourself and ask for help early and often.

I went back to school at age 40 and found it much easier than my classmates did. I think education is one of those things that life experiences really helps out with. Good luck!

When I was 37, I enrolled as a full-time student for two semesters as a candidate for a degree at the Hashemite University of Jordan. I found that I was emotionally better prepared to be a student then than when I was 18.

All courses in the science faculty were taught in English, with English lectures and textbooks. My fellow students, half my age, were wonderful, helpful and gregarious, especially the girls (even though, of course, they were untouchable – that was still 1975)… No fees of any kind. I had my transcripts sent over from my high school and previous colleges, and admitted without hesitation…

I went back to school nine years ago, at 34. I earned my B.S. a few years later, then went on and got my M.S. I now teach at a couple of community colleges.

So, I’ll offer some advice. :slight_smile:

When things come up in your home or work life that interfere with being able to get work done on time, don’t be afraid to talk to your instructors about it. Most teachers will put hard rules in their syllabi about things like “no late work, period!”, or “no make-up exams for any reason!”, or whatever. But as a student, I always found instructors (from grad students teaching lower division courses, up through professors teaching graduate classes) to be very accommodating when shit came up. And as a teacher, I’m willing to work with students and bend the rules… as long as I don’t feel like I’m being taken advantage of. There may be the occasional asshole who doesn’t care if you get hit by a bus on the way to school on exam day, but for the most part I’d bet they’ll help you out.

I agree with the sentiment that some life experience helps out with education. For the most part, my older students are my best students.