Is forty too old to go to college?


I’m a divorced, single parent. I’m laid off from my job as of 2 weeks ago and I decided this is the perfect time to go back to school. I applied about 10 minutes ago. I’m nervous about how I will afford it, how I will take care of my kids while taking classes, but I know it will add security to our lives that my current job isn’t providing (I’m a janitor). I feel too old.

I just wanted to share with someone.

Edit: I wanted to tell everyone I’m trying to respond to all your encouraging messages, but I’m a bit overwhelmed. So thank you so much for all the support and advice!

I did want to edit again to address what I’ve been messaged about quite a bit: I do not plan to take on any loans. I’ve applied for financial aid, the Pell Grant, and a dozen scholarships. Even if it takes me 5 years to get an associates, I’m hoping to do it without incurring debt. If anyone knows of other grants or aid, I’d appreciate a heads up. (I’m not sure when I’ll be able to speak with a financial advisor with the whole Covid-19 situation right now)

I’m sorry for another edit, but I’m getting messaged with the same questions and wanted to address it here. I’ve enrolled at community college to start. I haven’t decided exactly what degree, but I’m leaning toward business/IT. The school I’ve applied to has certification for both of those that I can get in 2 semesters and then get a better job while I’m working toward a degree.

Thank you again, so much, for the encouragement and advice. I definitely need it, and I’m reading every message and responding to as many as I can.

8 thoughts on “Is forty too old to go to college?

  1. My friend went back to school at 46. I said “How old are you gonna be when you graduate?” He said “51. But the thing is, I’ll be 51 anyway”. Which is the best point.

  2. There are lots of 40+ year old people in my graduate program. You probably won’t even be “that old guy” in classes. Sure, you’ll outage a few of your instructors, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

  3. No, My mother went back to school and finished college at 48. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

    Don’t be the guy to question everything the teacher says though.

  4. I’m 38 and in my third year of getting a master’s. Why the third year? Because my bachelor’s of some 15 years ago was completely unrelated, so they made me take virtually every undergrad business course before letting me into the big boy classes. So it was weird sitting with students who were literally born after I had started college, but it was fun. They didn’t look at me as the freaky guy. They were more fascinated.

    As for the actual grad classes, you’ll be fine. The most infuriating part for me has been the bureaucracy of the administration and the constant stream of misinformation about what classes to take when. Other than that, piece of cake.

    (Oh, and the bride left me for going back to school because it ended her unbridled shopping sprees at Victoria’s Secret. So, for me, BONUS! I’m single and surrounded by coeds!)

  5. Mad respect for doing that! Not everybody would have the balls to go back to school at age 40.

    I genuinely hope that works out for you!

  6. As a fellow 40 year old, fucking get that education!!! I am STOKED when someone my age goes back to school to improve themselves and their life!! Take it one class at a time, tutors are a gift from above and ROCK THIS.

  7. College student here. Best advice I can give is this: Look into FASFA. You can get ALOT of your tuition covered especially being that you’re a single parent. Get and keep tutors. Read your notes for your classes everyday, before class, and about an hour after. Planners are your best friend. You retain things better by writing them down and reading aloud. Do that before tests. I believe in you and I’m proud of you. It is no small feat, but I’m sure you’re more than capable!

  8. I went back in my mid 20s and let me tell you, I’d have rather been around 40 year olds than 18-22 year olds. Good for you man.

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