Categorized | Graduation

Graduating at 32

Posted on 25 October 2008

For the past 15 years, I have been a “professional student” in every sense of the term.

Ever since my high school graduation, I knew I wanted to go on to college, though I wasn’t quite certain what to pursue. Now, some years later, after numerous setbacks, full-time jobs and the raising of a daughter, I, at the age of 32, am a college graduate with a degree in business, and extremely proud of it.

Back to School Though I’d been taking classes off and on since 1986 while holding down a full time job, raising a daughter and overcoming a number of illnesses and setbacks, I never amassed the credits I needed to earn a formal degree. So starting in early 2000, I signed on to attend an 18-month “fast track” bachelor’s degree program in which adults took classes designed to complement their prior learning and work experience. The unique part of this program was that you started and ended with the same group of students, a factor that not only helped to facilitate the learning process, but also to facilitate the making of lasting friendships.

Despite the short time frame and the friendly atmosphere, the intensity of the program required deep commitment and diligence. So I forged ahead, took the few supplementary core classes I needed to qualify for the 18-month program, hit the books and finished up with a 3.79 GPA — a personal best! I would finally achieve my dream of earning a college diploma.

The Big Day

Graduation was a big deal for me, and I began planning early to ensure my family would be there to cheer me on.

When it did come, the day itself was beautiful. Sunny skies, windy and cool (typical Ohio weather), but that didn’t matter. The thrill of being a graduate only became greater as the small campus began to swell with activity. Graduates were told to report to the campus at 12:30 p.m. (the ceremony didn’t begin until 3 p.m.) for the rehearsal, which proved to be a lesson in patience. We sat through an abbreviated dry (truly an appropriate term) run of the ceremony, then through the two hour calling of graduates’ names. We were then, mercifully, released to find our assigned locations and line up for the processional.

We entered the gymnasium to a roar of applause and the squeal of bagpipes. I felt honored to be a part of this — I was moved to tears.

I began to look for my family. My husband, who has been a rock of support throughout my entire career as a “professional student,” was seated with my 6-year-old daughter. I could see the pride he felt through the waves and smiles. My daughter was very excited for me as well. My mother and sister were also there, and when I finally spotted them in the crowd, I saw that they too were crying. With tears in my eyes, I marched up to receive my diploma.

To graduate after so many years was an incredibly gratifying experience for me, and I try to encourage likeminded adults considering returning to college to take the road I took. The sacrifices were numerous, but the reward was great.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Resume Tips says:

    It’s never too late to return to school. Americans are living longer, healthier lives, so why not take advantage of it and spend your time accomplishing something you always dreamed of? Worried about scheduling? Don’t. You can earn your degree online at some of the nations top universities, so there’s no excuse. No matter what your age, “the rewards” of earning a degree are truly great.

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