Portland, here I come! (bragging thread...)

I’m 32 years old, never went to highschool, and basically only employable as a laborer – I have no real skills to speak of. I’ve worked as a hospice worker for something like 13 years, but that’s hardly skills that are hard to find in the workforce. Hell, a lot of people give them away.

I have a wife and two children. Not being able to provide for them was likely the worst feeling I’ve experienced to date. My best friend from gradeschool was finishing his PhD, and he is two years younger than me. The depression and feelings of hopelessness were getting out of hand, and I knew I had to do something.

Three years ago I went back to school at my local community college: I started night classes, taking writing and remedial math. You know… addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers by hand. The kind of stuff that fourth graders do. Studying subjects at 29 the rest of the world learned in gradeschool is very effective at making one feel very, very incompetent.

I persevered, working weekends and evenings while going to school during the day. My wife returned to school at the same time, taking night classes… we saw each other infrequently.

This June I will be finally be graduating: if all goes according to plan I’ll be earning an associate degree in mathematics and an associate degree in general studies. In the world of academia these accomplishments are small potatoes, but dammit, after everything I’ve put into this I feel good about it.

Two weeks ago I got a letter from Portland State University. I have been fully admitted as a Junior for the 2014-15 school year.

My program GPA is currently 4.0, my overall GPA is 3.36.

I received a letter a day or two later informing me that a private scholarship has awarded me a full-ride scholarship to the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science.

I am beyond numb. Words simply fail me… I never thought I would make it this far, let alone be accepted to a real, accredited university.

So it looks like I’m moving to Portland! I’ll have to stay away from Higgins…

That is way cool! Congrats!

I finished my bachelors in my 40s - I had most of it and did financially pretty well, but it was hanging out there. I switched majors and finished it off. And I wasn’t the oldest person in most of my classes.

Education is so often wasted on the young - I know I got far more out of my second round.


I finished my Bachelor’s in my 40s as well so I have some idea how hard you’ve been working, congratulations! You may find that the second half of your undergrad is much easier than the first, you’ve got the chops for it now so you can have some fun with it. I don’t know where you’re coming from but welcome in advance to Oregon! You’re going to love Portland.

Welcome to Portland! You’ll like PSU. It’s right downtown on the east side of the Willamette River, with access to all the public transportation modes, restaurants, food carts, etc. PSU owns a significant chunk of prime real estate.

That’s awesome, Lancia! I have a good friend who dropped out of high school, and now, in her early 40s, is on the verge of getting a college degree. I’m impressed by anyone who can do that. I tried to take one class about 10 years ago, and realized how hard it is to go back into a school environment!

Good luck with it. There are lots of us here with a Computer Science background. Feel free to PM if you have questions.

I am super impressed! Congratulations :slight_smile:


That’s really great, Lancia. Congratulations and I hope your move and continuing eduction go smoothly. I have two sets of friends who moved to Portland in the last few years, and I hope to retire there.



Wow, really impressive! Congratulations!

You have every right to be proud of yourself! Portland is a lovely city, congrats to you.

Congratulations to you, and congratulations to Portland!

Few things in life are as empowering as accomplishing something we’re proud of, I think. It seems to serve us all of our lives. Whatever challenges present themselves, whatever trials manifest, to make us question our own strength or ability, we can always harken back to, ‘Remember that? I MADE that happen!’ Closest thing to a super power, you can get without a lab accident, I should say!

Again, well done!

Thanks everyone, so very much, for your well wishes and congratulations. As I said yesterday, having never attended highschool I started on this journey already feeling like a failure. Over the past three years, as I slowly realized how little my fellow classmates knew about the real world and, one by one, dropped out of school while I soldered on, that feeling of worthlessness began to fade. Overhearing two egotistical twentysomething college students talk about WWII occurring in the 1960’s helped reinforce the idea that maybe I wasn’t as dumb as I thought.

I know PSU isn’t exactly Cal Berkeley, but it’s a damn fine school. I currently live in Oregon, but about 4 hours south of Portland. Thus while I have a passing familiarity with the city, I know little about it. Looking at campus map I realize I’ve been on campus or in the vicinity a few times over the years, but have never spent much time exploring. I’ve been to Powell’s a few times, ate lunch at Higgins and Pizzacato, and was at waterfront park for Cinco de Mayo in 2011. But not much else.

I’ll be in Portland visiting the campus the last weekend of this month and perhaps the following weekend as well. I’ll be making occasional trips to the city to get housing squared away, attend orientation, and meet with an advisor. Should be fun.

One big issue is my family. My wife has another year to finish her degree here, so the first school year we will be split up – I’ll be in Portland and she’ll be here with our boys. That’s going to be extremely hard on all of us. I’m hoping the weeks go by quick and come next summer we can find a house in Portland big enough for the four of us.

Weird how this stuff gets so ingrained, innit? This acceptance that you’re stupid, you can’t do this, can’t do that. Even just reading your structured paragraphs and good spelling tells me you’re a thousand better than 99% of the internet, never mind the fact that you did a bloody maths degree!

It’ll take a while to get rid of that, or it did for me anyway. I finished secondary school with a 9/10 in maths, and it still took me years to accept that I am actually good at maths. The evidence to the contrary was there, but for no particular reason I had defined myself as being bad at maths. I hear people saying they “can’t do maths” all the time-so destructive.

What you did was amazing, now start believing it! :slight_smile:

Good for you! It’s always great to see hard work pay off. Best of luck at Portland. .

Wow, two AS degrees in three years? While working!? That’s super awesome. How many credit hours were you taking at a time? Did you do summer classes as well? I was wondering how you were going to finagle moving your whole family to the college, but I see you got that scholarship and they’re going to stay behind. Kick ass on the one hand, and a bit of a bummer on the other.

Are you taking out student loans for this too? Will you be living on campus? I’m a 29-year-old dropout considering going back to school, so I’m wondering how the logistics are working out for you.

Very well done. You should be extremely proud of yourself.

You’ve missed the Jazz Festival, but Blues on the Waterfront will be coming this summer. It’s a real happening. Free concerts in the parks and some free concerts at the Portland Zoo amphitheater throughout the good weather, also. Honestly, you could go to a different good restaurant every day of the year here. I don’t know what you can afford, if you’re buying. The more inexpensive homes are in the east and northeast of Portland. Were I you, I’d avoid the eastern part of the city, as there is more crime. Northeast also has its problems, but some neighborhoods are decent. If you’re buying, I can recommend a realtor. Rentals come up often in our neighborhood, but they’re not cheap. A two-bedroom near us is going for $1400/mo. Sellwood is a terrific area, with parks, good schools, medical, etc., all in walking distance. You might look at the Oregonian online for help.