Back to School at 40

ScholarshipOne of my good friends decided a few months ago to go back to school at the age of 40. He wanted to get his Masters degree but really believed that his chances of even being accepted were slim to none. To his surprise, he was accepted and now found himself in a position where he will be 15 to 20 years older than almost all of his classmates.

He was apprehensive, to say the least, but he had pretty much made up his mind to go back to school, and I am proud to say that’s exactly what he did. He asked me if I would mind riding along with him as he went to register for classes and buy our books. Most of the students probably thought that we were professors until we entered the book store and asked for a couple of text books. The cashier gave us a strange look but pointed us in the right direction.

When we went to register for classes, the registrar actually called him to the front of the line thinking that he was a member of the staff. I have to admit, I had a good long laugh at that, and when he finally informed the lady that he was actually there to register and that he was going back to school, she smiled sheepishly and asked if he would mind returning to his spot in line.

We got through that day, but then there was the first day of class for him to worry about. He said he had not been this nervous since kindergarten and finally admitted that going back to school may not have been the best idea he had ever had. I pointed out to him that he was going back to school for a good reason and not to let all of these other insecurities and issues bring him down. Trying to be reassuring, I suggested that there were probably other 40-year old students in his classes, and that he would not be alone.

To my great relief, and I have to admit, my astonishment, there were actually a few students older than him in his classes. When he got home that day, I made it a point to be there, and watching him walk up to his wife and give her a kiss and hug reminded me of a first day of school for a 5-year-old, and I could not help but laugh again. He kindly dismissed me at that point, but I hung around for a while to ask how it was for him to go back to school.

He said at first, he was really anxious, because he thought he would get a lot of stares and whispers, but said he soon realized that there were a number of non-traditional students, and more to the point, nobody really cared. They were all there for the same purpose, and he was determined to get his degree no matter what it took.

Five short years later, he got his degree, and told me that going back to school was the smartest decision he had ever made.
Like in the movie, Back to School, Rodney Dangerfield never got any respect. In the real world you might find it to be just the opposite and the best respect is your own self-respect.

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