College at Fifty!

Last week my educational post was about it never being too late to get an education and I told you that I would tell you this week about my going to college at the age of 50.  It all started simple enough.  It was the spring of 2010 and my daughter needed to take two semesters of a foreign language for her degree in education.  She was in her first year at the university after having transferred from the community college.   I told her that if she wanted, I would sign up and take Spanish I and II with her at the community college during her summer break.  Now, I probably could have taken the classes as an adult learner, but hey, if I was going to take the classes I might as well get college credit for them!

So, I started jumping through the hoops to register at the community college as an actual college student not just as an adult in the leisure learning capacity.  Hoop 1 was requesting that my high school transcripts be unearthed from the depths of the dungeons of my high school.  I graduated in the dark ages of 1977!  After receiving my transcript in the mail, I proceeded to Hoop 2, taking the placement test in reading, writing and math.  I got my youngest son, my daughter’s twin, who was also finishing his first year at a different university, to refresh the repressed memories of the three weeks of Trigonometry I had way the heck back in high school.  Believe it or not, his coaching on the basics of trig helped me get far enough along on the placement test that I was able to go straight into College Algebra without any developmental classes!  I passed the reading and writing portions without any coaching whatsoever, thank you very much!

Hoop number 3 was speaking with an advisor to go over said testing at which point I was able to register for classes.  This is where I secretly signed up for an online English Comp I class in addition to the Spanish I and II classes.  By the end of the summer I had eleven college credit hours!  Yippee!!!  In the fall, my car had gone back to the university with my daughter, so I wasn’t getting out much.  I decided to sign up for some more online classes for the fall. (My husband, {remember he took that lay off package?} yeah, so he and his truck were around if I really needed to get out, but I didn’t want to be taking his truck up to the campus several times a week.)  I was worried about taking too many online classes, worried that they may be difficult so I only signed up for Government I and a required History class.  One of them was just an eight week course so that was pretty cool.  By early December, I was up to 17 hours of college credit with five classes under my belt.

My car came home along with my daughter for the Christmas break.  I took advantage of this and signed up for a three week mini-mester on campus during the holidays.  Another required History course and voila, twenty credits were behind me.  The spring semester was around the corner.  I decided that since I had all As at this point, I could probably handle three online classes.  I signed up for the required second Government class, an Economics class and the English Comp II class.  All of a sudden it was early May and I had nine classes done with 29 hours of credit and still a 4.0!  I was becoming thoroughly impressed with myself.  I checked to see what classes were offered during the May mini-mester and crosschecked the checklist I had printed out the previous summer which showed the most common core classes needed for an Associate ’s degree.  I found an online three week course called Intro to Film which would count as a Performing and/or Visual Arts credit.  Done!  In one year I completed ten classes and had 32 credit hours to my name.

At this point, I seriously realized that if I played my cards right, I could get an Associate’s degree in another year.  This is where it gets tricky though.  First, I had to decide between an Associate’s in Arts or Science.  Actually that wasn’t too hard of a choice since the science degree required another 12 hours of math or science and I didn’t particularly want to go there, if you know what I mean!  Next I had to decide upon what type of Associate of Arts to go for.  I decided that a focus on Business was the logical choice.  I would have chosen GIS if it was still available even if it meant going for the science, but the college had stopped offering it because of a lack of interest, darn it!  Anyway, Business it was.  I looked over the checklist carefully to see what classes I still needed and to see if I’d be able to fit them into the three semesters I had left, summer, fall and spring.  Sure I could have gone over that, but now I had this goal of finishing a two year degree in a two year time span.  (I work best with specific goals.)

Ok, I could take an online Literature course over the summer along with a basic computer literacy class on the list of required courses.  The end of summer running total was 12 classes and 38 hours.  I still needed two sciences, two math classes, two accounting classes, two physical education classes (what is this high school?), another economics class and a speech class.  That was ten classes more.  Could I do it?

Of course I could.  In the fall I took College Algebra, Principles of Accounting I, Biology for non science majors, Public Speaking and a Walking class.  Believe it or not, they were ALL online, yes, even the walking.  I had to purchase a pedometer that I could hook up to my laptop to upload my daily walks!   The speech class was great because I could do the work at as fast a pace as I wanted, so I got it out of the way relatively quickly.  It was a little daunting doing a speech class online.  I had to do an online recording of one of my speeches and then a video recording of another one.  The walking class was an eight week class so it was over and done before I knew it.  That left the three harder classes for me to concentrate on.  Believe it or not, I maintained my 4.0 through all of this.  I did start going up to the campus for a weekly science tutoring session along with a couple of math study sessions.  The accounting exams were proctored on campus and the algebra final was on campus so it’s not like it was all open book in the comfort of my own home either.  I did work hard for my As.

Alright, that was a really tough semester so I decided to get the second Economics class out of the way over the Christmas mini-mester which left me with four classes in the spring, Calculus with Applications, Principles of Accounting II, another science for which I chose Environmental Geology and another physical education, my choice this time was Aerobics (not because I necessarily wanted it, but because the walking classes were already full and this was the only one that fit my schedule.)  Yes, my schedule this last and final semester was a factor because the second accounting class was not available online.  It was only offered on campus.  By this time, we had acquired another used vehicle so I decided to take all of my classes on campus.  I scheduled my classes early enough in the day to get me up and going, but I had time between classes so I could get my homework done in the library right away, otherwise I might procrastinate.

During this last semester, was when I found the organization N2L which stands for Never too Late.  It was started for adults returning to school after years away.  It was a cozy room with a couple of sofas, a table and chairs to do school work, a couple of computer stations and even a mini-fridge and a microwave.  Plus, they always had a pot of coffee on and a smiling face to greet you.  I began volunteering to sit at the welcome desk a few hours a week just to give back a little of what I got from having this nice comfy place to relax, visit with other older students and exchange tidbits of information that we found helpful.  It would have been nice to have benefited from the N2L lounge for more than just one semester, but luckily I had navigated my college career pretty well on my own.  I’m proud to say that I graduated in May of 2012 at the age of 52 with my 4.0 intact.  I haven’t really done anything with my Associate of Arts in Business, but I have it, no one can take it away from me and I can now say that I am a college graduate (if they assume that it’s a Bachelor’s instead of an Associate’s, well, that’s not my fault!)


Here I am being inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society for two year colleges in September of 2011.

Remember it’s N2L


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