41 and no undergraduate yet...


I am 42 have been raising five children with still one at home and two beautiful grand daughters. I decided recently to go back to school (maybe)I have no units at all.

I am about at my wits end with this college thing already. I am low income and need to depend completely on financial aid to do this.

I was registered with an online college who knew my situation and after signing up for classes they preceded to tell me the financial aid would not cover it. They made the suggestion to take 2 classes with to me is a preposterous idea. I would be in my 60’s at that point and might not be employable. I told them to take me out of their system.

I feel so driven to do this and yet there are other issues that I do not know if it is possible for me to do this.

Can financial aid itself get one through school is it too late? My field would be psychiatry.

Not all medical schools require one getting a bachelor’s degree, although the vast majority of applicants to these schools have one. If financial aid is not possible, perhaps you can look into scholarships and grants geared toward non-traditional students returning to school. Websites such as Some popular websites have “ads” which proclaim, “Obama wants mothers to return to school” and the like, and apparently offer money to help working women return to or start college. I am a bit skeptical about these, but they may be worth a look anyway. Just be careful about scams.

Financial aid websites such as FastWeb,FinAid, FastAid, Financial Aid Supersite (what’s with all these sites that begin with the letter ‘F’?) may help you find the money you need. Are there unusual aspects of your current situation or past experiences, or ethnicity, or gender that may qualify you for special scholarships and grants? Perhaps if you have any generous relatives, they may be able to help you as well. I would strongly recommend against working through college unless you take light load; getting good grades is too important.

Also, being older gives you a great opportunity to not screw up like many of us have done. I worked my way through undergrad, and would have done better had I more time to study instead of working. Now I work less, use more savings, grants and family loans for the most part, although now my problem is that I’m volunteering too much outside the U.S. . . . so I am still messing my GPA up in other ways. Oh well. I love medical volunteering too much . . .

If you are as driven as you say you are, and you know that in your heart being a psychiatrist is what you want, don’t let FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt), your background/age/gender/cla ss, stand in your way. I am not saying you should not have a realistic assessment of your chances, but if you don’t take a chance at all – even if the odds are stacked against you – you may never know. And yes, I know that I am being unduly optimistic, but I find being optimistic can open doors where being pessimistic cannot.

It may have been a blessing in disguise that things didn’t work out with the online school. My opinion, as someone who has been to a “degree mill” type of school myself, is that it’s better not to go that route. Not only is it expensive, it also isn’t the most credible way to go. I’d convinced myself at the time that it would be too difficult to get into a state university. Now I’m at the state university doing a second bachelors degree (and a masters). Along the way I’ve found that my CC/JC classes came along with me, but not a single course from the school my bachelors is from did. I’m doing a lot of do-overs now.

Honestly, if it were me…and I had a clean slate to start with the way you do…I would take it in baby steps, a day at a time. I’d start off with a junior/community college and do the best I could there, then transfer to a state college/university. You can definitely do that on full financial aid. Just be sure that you resist the temptation to take out more student loans than you need to get by on. I have been very low income myself over the years, as a single mom of young kids, and looking back on it I wish that I would have just tightened up the belt a little tighter and taken out less loans.

You’ll never know what’s possible until you take that first step. Best wishes to you!