Local News

More and More Adults Going Back to School

Posted August 4, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Have you ever thought about going back to school? Maybe you have been on the job for years, but never got a degree. Maybe you would just like to take some classes for fun. It can be done.

This fall, thousands of adults will do what recent high school graduates do -- go to college. These adults include housewives, professionals and even retirees. It is not easy, but it's not impossible, either.

After 11 years in the Army, Randy Garcia is finally finishing what he started years ago -- a college degree.

"I didn't value education back then. I was just too young," he says. "Through my military career and life, I've come to realize that education is important."

The Army is assigning Garcia to full-time student status, so he can get his degree in two years. But you can go back to college even if your employer will not give you the time off work.

Nalini Milne, who works forDuke University'sstudent newspaper,The Chronicle, is juggling her job and family time to attend school part-time.

"Instead of going for lunch at noon, I'll skip my noon lunch and go at three if that's when my class meets," says Milne.

"[My family is] getting used to hearing, 'No, I can't do that now. I've got to write a paper,'" she says.

You may have other concerns, like a lack of computer knowledge or fitting in with younger students. But that could work in your favor.

Georgeann Eubanks, a continuing education specialist at Duke, says the obstacles older students face sometimes make them better students.

"They're here against a lot of hardship in terms of scheduling, family responsibility, the financial commitment, the time commitment. So our adult students tend to be more serious, more committed," says Eubanks.

You might not even want a degree. If you're like Sharon Hill, who already has her bachelor's degree, you might be interested in taking classes for your own personal growth.

"I'll get the catalog, and I'll say 'Oh my, I haven't had that. That sounds like fun.' And then I'll sign up for it and go," she says.

Take it from Duke continuing education specialists who say "you can always learn more."

If you are interested in going back to school, you might want to check with your employer. Many companies will offer tuition assistance if the courses pertain to your job.

Short courses, on the other hand, are much less expensive. You will not get any credit towards a degree, but you will gain knowledge to last a lifetime.