Campus Life / Education

Older students going to college

by Shaye Southall

40-plus year-old college freshmen, who decide to go back to college after their children have graduated from high school, seems to be a new trend.  You can attend college whenever you choose to. You can be as young as 13 or old as 99. There is no time limit on when you can go to college and earn a degree.

Ms. Doreetha Daniels graduated from college at 99 years old with an associate degree in social science from the College of the Canyon. Ms. Daniels has lived through many historical moments such as World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the election of our country’s first black president.  With a few health problems of her own, she persevered and became the oldest graduate of her college.

“Older people have always gone to school part-time,” according to Jane Glickman of the U.S. Department of Education. “But there is an increase in full-time education among older students, as more people lose their jobs.”

Ronald Johnson, a sophomore political science major at Norfolk State University, started college over twenty years ago. Mr. Johnson received his associate’s degree, but decided he wanted to become a lawyer.

“I want to earn my bachelor’s degree at Norfolk State and go to law school. Then I will have to decide on the right law school to go to,” Johnson said.

College graduates earn 84 percent more over their lifetime than high school graduates. Some could not attend college after high school for various reasons, but decide to go to college for the first time at an older age, such as 40.

Some say 40 is the new 30. The National Center for Education Statistics says 4.1 million middle-aged people are in college, graduate school or technical school. That number will likely rise year after year since people are getting older and living longer.

Chris, an older student, who will graduate from Norfolk State University in December, said “I don’t have time for anything but these books. I am too old to be trying to party and hang out with these young folk. I can do that after I graduate. Right now, it’s only time for these books!”

Age is nothing but a number when it comes to going to college. Going to school at an older age means the older student is wiser and has established him or herself as a functioning adult. The older student will not be affected by the peer pressure that younger students will face while attending college right out of high school.