Yikes! Going back to school

acdesignskyJuly 25, 2006

Oy Vey, here I am nearly 35 and getting ready to go back to school. The funny thing is, I was in college forever, but never managed to graduate. That's what happens when you part-time. Instead, I got married and had babies. Now they're nearly 8 and 9, so I have the time to go back and finish my degree. I'm thinking of just buckling down and doing the 3 yr accelerated program full time.

The entire process is so odd, very different than when I was a college senior. I have about 75 credit hours but most are so old I don't know what will actually transfer. I'd also forgotten about the dreaded FAFSA.

Is anyone else going back after a long break? Any advice? And exactly how do I go about getting a letter of recomendation from my HS guidance counselor, FGS? It's been nearly 20 yrs!

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I've been there! I went back after 9 years to get my masters degree (I had my BA). Let me tell you - I LOVED it. It was so nice to get out of the house and be with adults and at least pretend to be smart. LOL Some days when my mom would come to babysit or dh was coming home I couldn't get out of the house fast enough. :D

Do you really need a letter of recommendation from your HS guidance counselor?? Surely there is an alternative. I don't even remember HAVING an guidance counselor.

At my university (CSULB) they allowed me to use units within 7 years prior. Of course since I returned after 9 years, I could use nothing. It was ok though - I only lost one class because of that.

I was upset though because at around the time that I started, Steven Spielberg returned to CSULB to finish a film degree that he started in the 60's. Surely HIS units were more than 9 years old, but they let HIM apply them...

Anyway - what is the FAFSA?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 7:22PM
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angc- good for you!
In Australia the unit points last 10 years.. so at 9 years 355 days (well maybe a slight exaggeration! but close!) I reapplied. Scooping up my previous work (although a few didn't relate to the degree and I lost them.) I was 30 with three children (then 9, 8, and 3).

My keys to success as a fulltime student and mum:

Start assignment work as soon as you get it- map out all of your work (Uni and mum/home duties) on a daily timetable so due dates are crystal clear.

Home duties: dust will wait- assignments won't, BUT kids need clean clothes and food! If money permits a cleaner will take off the pressure (mind you I didn't have one and survived).

Group work BE VERY CAREFUL don't join up with the young party girls/guys OR the overworked mature students juggling fulltime work with study- both types will often use your precious hours to do their work for them.

Study when you can, organise dedicated study time that is child free!

Unless you are mad or desperate, don't take the kids into the library while you try and get research books- you will not only waste your time but annoy others. Tried that one, and it really never worked well!

If you have a disaster happening at home, approach the tutor early if you think you may need an extension on a due date. Don't over use this as I saw friends of mine refused extensions because the tutors got sick of them doing it.

Make a quiet spot in your house for study, a place you can leave books sprawled out mid research to run for the school pickup or make dinner. A lap top is excellent- you can take it with you to grab a little extra time for work (eg while DD has dance class, while waiting for an appointment...)

Hope these tips help you, they helped me graduate after 4 years full time with honours and an award for excellence as most outstanding preservice teacher. (Mighty proud of that!)

Good luck!!!!!
Don't forget to have fun.
I made a heap of friends and even went to at least 8 21st birthdays!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 8:10PM
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I'm glad to hear you have a good experience snookums. The idea of adult converstations that doens't include even talking about the kids, is pure heaven. I emailed my advisor to ask about the guidance counselor thing. After all, that's just silly. Chances are, he doesn't even work there anymore much less remember me. BTW, the FAFSA is the free application for financial student aid. I don't think we'll qualify for anything, but you still are required to fill it out by the college.
I am so looking forward to classes. I swear my brain was turning to mush. My girls have been in all day school for the past two yrs. The first year I spent remodeling the kitchen, but last year, I was so bored during the day. I had put it on the back burner since DH was traveling all the time with work. Now, he'll work from home 90% of the time. I love him, but that was the final little nudge I needed out the door.
Thanks so much for all your advice koala. You sound like such an expert. I saved your list, BTW. I'm trying to really keep school and home as seperate as possible. The kids, their activites, my volunteer work, and DH require so much of my time from 7-9am and about 3pm bedtime. That will allow several hours a day during the week for class and studies and I'll take Sat. as "catch-up" day. It's definitely going to be very different from the laid back summer we're having (that's a good thing). DH is so supportive too. The other students are my biggest concern. I'm not as pateint as I used to be when i was younger :-) I'm sure it will work out. Speaking of which, being surrounded by 19 yo has to motivate to get back into shape.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 10:47PM
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koala had some great advice about group work. I HATED group work - I was always the one who wound up doing all the work or was the organizer/e-mailer OR if I wasn't that person, it never turned out the way I wanted it. And it was always so unfair if it was a group grade. And there was always some dumb presentation to go along with it. Sometimes I felt like teachers would opt for the group projects because they couldn't think of anything better.

You will be amazed at how much different things will be due to technology, and for the better. Most of your research you can do online and at home - your library will most likely give you access to online educational journal databases. Registration will probably be online, you get your grades online, your transcript online, and may even take a class or two online. I had a class where we'd meet every other week on campus and every other week online at a university-sponsored website that had chat, a blackboard for the instructor to use, and the works. Some teachers like you to submit assignments online, too. It's pretty cool!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 2:31AM
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Oh I thought of one more:

When you cook, make double of things like spagetti and casseroles- freeze for quick healthy meals when you are thick into that time of semester when suddenly everthing is due!


    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 5:47AM
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Good for you ang! You got great tips above.

I started college at 24 as a single mom. So I had DS all through college and law school. Em is right, the end of the semester is very hectic and you need to have lots of back-up from friends/family at that time. It will be hard to let go of the things you normally do, but you will probably have to let some things slide around the house for a couple of weeks at the end of each semester.

Don't worry about the other students. Many are clueless, most are naive, there can be some refreshing idealism, and there is lots more materialism than when we were that age. Consider it a study in humanity.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 8:13AM
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Technology really has changed since I was last in school. My final semester, I saw the internet for the first time. I'd spend hours on it (like now) but there wasn't really anything there (unlike now). My first time around in school, I had a computer but it was just basically a word processor/game player.
Keeping the family fed and clothed will take the most scehduiling. I do have a secret weapon though. There is this place called Super Suppers where you go in and fix up to 12 meals. They supply all the ingredients and storage bags. You just take them home and todd in the freezer. It's about $17 for a meal that feeds 4, but it's so much food we can get two meals out of each. So for $115, I get 12 meals that are quick to cook and actually pretty healthy. As far as the laundry, how they created disposable clothing yet ;-) I don't think I can convince DH we need a cleaning service, so I'll have to devise a system to keep the huse relatively neat and organized.
I've always hated group projects too. I guess I'm a bit of a control freak, so it's hard to hve to share responsibility. Thing is, I always did well but everyone probably hated me!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 10:38AM
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Good for you, Angc. I think you'll love the experience.

I went back to school when I was 37. The first semester I took a couple of classes at the vocational school to see if my brain had atrophied beyond repair. I had a sweet "retired" nun for a literature class. When I turned in my term paper complete with foot-notes she called me aside. She very kindly told me that I had done a nice job but that "we don't use footnotes any more." Talk about being a dinosaur in the classroom!

The next semsester I tried to get into the University and they told me no because my college grades from 18 years before were not up to their standards. I went to see one of the university councilors who worked with "returning adults." He sent me to see the dean. The dean said he assumed I had learned a lot in the intervining 18 years and he'd let me in on probation. He also looked at my old credits and decided which ones would transfer. He was much more lenient than the admissions department. I was impressed that the dean could bend the "rules" but was told later that when a dean says sit you don't go looking for a chair, you just sit! Maybe you can find a nice compassionate dean.

I'm just about ready to start my 17 year of teaching. Even managed to get my masters degree.

I was very lucky. The main reason I succeeded was because my DH was so supportive even though he worked a huge number of hours. He learned to cook and helped out a lot. The kids were in grade school. My son (a 5th grader when I started back) would do one or two loads of towels a week and often a load of his own clothes. The house......could have been cleaner, but we all survived.

I remember my kids telling me they were going to check out my report card. If that wasn't motivation I don't know what was. It is good for the kids to see how their parents value education.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 3:15PM
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I went back and never regretted it. Koala gave some great tips. If I think of anything else I'll get back to you, but this is a great move. There will be little surprises that you'll learn to handle, but all in all, worth every hour and hassle I went through. I was very fortunate to have wonderful study groups at times with younger students and they were very mature. On the other hand, the older students were more selfish I thought.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 7:43PM
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I'm pleased to say the process is still moving forward. I registered for classes today. Only two this semester, but in my department each class meets for 6hrs a week rather than 3, so it's more like 4 classes. Hopefully, this Spring I can jump in full-time. I also won a small scholarship. Not alot of money but it will help to pay for the required laptop.
I was worried my credits wouldn't transfer since I took my last class 10 yrs ago, but they did! I was able to bypass all but 3 classes for Core Curriclum. That means I can really focus on my major courses right away. In fact, one of my first classes in learning AutoCad. The classes are all small with 12 students max. Maybe we won't have many group projects.
My kids are even more hesitant than I. They're used to having me accesible 24/7. DH will have to pick up alot of slck at home and he's just started a new job and another web project. Here's hoping they'll wash a load of towels here and there or at least walk the dog in the evenings.
DDs go back to school in 2 weeks. Then, I'll have a week before I go back. It's always bothered me that I didn't finish school. My parent's were the first generation to attend college, then I come along and knock us back 30 yrs. I'm very lucky to get to study something I love, esp at this point in my life.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 5:21PM
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My mom did this. She was an RN before I was born, but then when I came along, she became a housewife. There were 6 of us kids, and once the youngest (my brother) was in school full time, she decided she was going to take a few refresher courses and go back to it. Well, when she got back to school, she found so much had changed, she decided she needed to get her degree all over again. Between having 4 kids still in school, taking care of the house, and going to school, she came up deans list every semester for four years of full time school, graduating with honors. She was a real inspiration for the 4 youngest.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 9:47PM
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Very best wishes to you, housework will wait but studying won't. Won't it be just so fun to get back to routine and exercise those brain cells once again? Lord, if I didn't do all this reading here and the newspaper and do crossword puzzles ea. day...........surely I'd be saying "ga-ga-ga" by now. I am not as young as you chicklets here, my baby will be 35 this week, yikes. Go for it and enjoy!

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 12:51AM
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Time management will be very important. I am 37 and I just finished my BA & B.Ed. The BA was part time but the B.Ed was full time and the most difficult with a family. My kids are now 8 & 11.

We set up the computer in the living room so that I was close by. Most of the work you will do can be easily put down to be with the kids. True studying was done in the van when the kids were at soccer or scouts. Or after they were in bed.

I found that it was easiest to clean a little everyday then it all at once. I have found www.flylady.com a help in that.

My DH works shift work at his main job so I loved the nights he was working and I could cook Campbells soup for dinner. DH was very helpful in cooking and tidying up.

In the end it took me fourteen years to get my BA - off and on, part-time. It wasn't until my youngest was in kindergarten that I really started working on it. I took three classes a semester and took the summers off. It was a biggest pain in December when I was trying to finish Christmas shopping, planning big family dinners, going to all the Christmas events and taking exams. I was always ready to collapse.

I am really happy that I worked at it though. I have a job now and I'm starting to plan my kitchen remodel; something that we would have continued to put off.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 4:26PM
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Congrats!!!!! I went back as well. Definitely do the dreaded FAFSA (for Australian members, the FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid--it encompasses grants and low interest rate federal loans). I recommend getting a program of study drawn up with all of the classes you will need and when they are generally offered (sometimes future class offerings are not available, but at least get the course number). This is important because I did not have one and ended up graduating with 56 more credits than I needed. I didn't know about a Program of Study but I sure do now!! I also recommend being choosy about group projects. Find your niche and offer to do that. For example, my niche is powerpoint and usually I am the only one who wants to put it together. I still do my share of the research, but this way I know that it is done right. Also, if you disagree with a grade, feel free to ask for justification. Be logical with your approach and not emotional. The professors will give you more latitude. Don't make excuses. If you forget your homework, own up to it. I have been given private consideration because of my accountability and not docked the grade because of the honesty. I speak to my professors privately. Being organized is also a key component. My kids know when it is family study time. They do their homework and I do mine and I also set aside time to help them if they get stuck and surprisingly enough, they have helped me!

Again, congrats on going back and enjoy the adult time away from the kiddos :)

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 4:25PM
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