Anyone out there who's "older" w/ a family and going to college?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Pinkgirl, May 2, 2006.

  1. Pinkgirl

    Pinkgirl New Member

    I'm doing a finals project in my Honors class about how nontraditional students (anyone over 25, I'm 26) are treated in general and especially those students with kids still at home. I'm having a heck of a time finding research, so I was hoping some of you could share some stories that I could mention.

    My project is on the Paradoxes of Gender... I'm going to talk about how because I'm relatively young people assume I'm a single mom, and then when they find out I AM in fact married they assume I got married because I was pregnant (my 7th anniversary is comming up, my son's 5)

    Then I'm going to talk about how I'm treated as a nontrad. college student, and looked down at by some because I can't join in on all the campus activities...

    And I also want to talk about how I'm treated because I'm a woman with physical disabilities and mental illness....

    Any help you guys can offer will be greatly appreciated!!!
  2. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    Don't know if this will help. I am also thinking about going to college next year when I turn 60.

    Love Anne C
  3. mildred623

    mildred623 New Member

    I went back to school when I was 37 I am now 39. One thing that stands out to me is the disability thing. Although I have doctors letters and special accomadations from Disability services, I still have instructors that dont want to follow those accomadations because I "dont look sick".

    I had one that didnt want to bother taking my tests over to the testing center and he told me he thought I would "do alright" taking it in the classroom with everyone else. It took reporting him to get him to comply.

    I also had an instructor that didnt want to comply with my accomadations unless my counselor told her what my disabilities were. The counselor refused because it is against confidentiality laws. So she wouldnt comply either.

    This incident actually began a rule at the college where it was not only against the law but against school policy for any employee to ask the disability counselors what a students disabilities are. All you need is your accomadation letter and they have to comply or face reprimand from the college.
  4. skyeone

    skyeone New Member

    I went back to college when I was 31 (i! I did manage to graduate,but i thought I should mention that it was only a 1 yr course and anything longer I wouldn't have been able to manage. Unlike you I am a single mother. To be honest, when I went back to school the instructors were very accomodating of my illness and proud of me to be going back at my age while being a single mom!

    The students on the other hand were quite different of opinion. The majority of them were fresh out of highschool. Unfortunately for these kids, they were of the mind that if you've been out of school for more than a year, you didn't deserve higher education. The reason I say unfortunately for them, is simple. In my opinion, these kids will never get far in life with attitudes like that. They may get good paying jobs and all that, but they'll never be happy always looking down on others around them.

    I had obus forms for my chairs to make tolerating a full day of school easier for me, and this is something else that these kids looked down on me for. I was also using a cane to walk. They felt that I had been out of the world for so long already, and with me being ill, it would be unfair if I finished college and got a job that they could do just as well as I could. In their opinion they felt they could do a better job working then I could simply because they didn't have any ailments like I have to slow me down.

    To me at times it seemed that they were jealous (at least some of them). I only say that, because I could understand what the instructors were teaching better than they could, even with my disabilities, I was a quicker learner. They didn't like that at all to be honest. They thought that because I have physical disabilities, and that i've been out of school so long, they should be smarter and better than I am. Well I graduated with the 3rd highest grade, the 2 people higher than me were coincidentally relatively close to me in age. So I had the last laugh!

    Sorry for rambling so long,
  5. UPK5

    UPK5 New Member

    Hello there. I went back to school after 23 years! I was apprehensive about it, but I did it. I am a teacher, and in order to keep my job, I was told I had to enroll in a Masters of Education program. I did. I started working 1/2 day, taking 2 courses at night and of course was still raising my kids at home. I do have a husband who has flexibility with his job, and was able to help a lot with household chores, as my time was consumed with reading, studying and writing papers.

    The pre-school that I teach in was thrilled with my graduate work, they convinced me to work FULL time. The first year was tough, but I worked with a terrific assistant who helped me a lot! The next year, I worked with a person, who criticized everything I did, no matter what it was. If I read a book to the children, it was the wrong book at the wrong time. If I created a project, she deemed it "not worthy" of her time, and instead of assisting me, she would sit back and just let the pressure build up on my head. It got so bad, my body started enduring more and more pain. That is when I was diagnosed with my fibromyalgia. I stopped taking courses to reduce my STRESS level.

    The next year, I chose to work a half day (again reducing my stress load) and NOT to work with that unpredictable MEAN assistant teacher. She could be NICE one minute and really spiteful the next.

    This year, the management told me, if I did NOT return to school, I would have to resign from my position. I did NOT want to stop working. I went back to school, and have ONLY signed up for ONE course per semester. I am working with my favorite assistant teacher, and I am having a great year.

    I still have my fibro and I deal with it as best I can.

    I hope this information has been helpful for your paper.

    By the way, I never did register as a student with disabilities. I am trying to do my best, as a regular student, just taking it slow.

    Good luck,
  6. Pinkgirl

    Pinkgirl New Member

    I'm always told I "don't look sick" but thankfully most of my teachers are really understanding... we'll see how that goes when I transfer from my local community college to the University of Moorhead this fall...

    I forgot to mention that I also want to talk about how I'm an honors student (my GPA has never been lower than 3.7) but I'm treated like crud when people meet me and learn more about me - I'm a wife/mother and I don't "look" the part, I'm older, had pink hair, and have piercings and tattoos. People will be soooooo nice to me on the phone and treat me great, and then when they meet I'm not what they expect and blow me off.

    Please, please keep the stories coming! Not only will it help me with my presentation, it's just nice to share stories of our struggles beyond these DDs!

  7. vp

    vp New Member

    I'm single, no kids, and started college at 34 (36 now). I will officially be a sophmore in a few weeks, since I have only been able to go part time.

    I feel invisible and isolated at school. Partly because of my age, and partly because I feel like I don't belong there. Kids want to hang out with other kids their own age.
    I feel I don't belong solely because I am self conscience about my appearance. I don't look as good as I did when I was their age. Heck I don't look as good as I did 2 years ago. It shouldn't bother me, but it is the one thing about being sick that I haven't been able to cope with.

    I am registered with the accessibiblity office and I have a handicap parking permit. Some kids look at me funny when I get out of my truck and go to class. That jealous, "you stole that from your grandmother look" I take tests at different times and different locations than the rest of the class. The professors are cool about it. I haven't had a problem yet. The kids on the other hand, treat me like I'm cheating. The ONLY reason I have a 3.75 GPA is that I cheat by taking advantage of the "system" and there is nothing wrong with me. Not true at all! I use the resources available to do the best I can do with what I've got at the moment.

    I find that the majority of the college students I have talked to are self centered and closed minded and lazy. Then I am taking mostly freshman courses and alot of these kids are fresh out of high school, or some of them are still in high school, taking college credits. They haven't been out in the world and dealt with such a diverse set of people. Most of them are probably not paying out of their own pocket for school either. I go to a fairly large school (in my opinion) and there are people from all over the world that attend here. I think by the time I graduate I will see the kids in a different light, but for now I feel like an outcast.
  8. gymmbabe

    gymmbabe New Member

    I can't help you with your research..however, I started classes over 3 years ago and finally graduating with my associates. I am graduating "with Honors" and recieving a degree in Early Childhood Education. I am currently in the diagnosing stage (can't get in for my initial Rheumy appt until May 30th..ugh) Of course, my 'symptoms' really didn't start to show their ugly face until this semester. I have ALWAYS been tired and had a numb feeling on the left side of my face. Doctors treated my like I was crazy. After finding this board, I am fighting hard to get a diagnosis! MRI's are normal, however, the pain ISN'T.

    I work 35-40 hours a week and take part-time classes. I do not see me continuing to this with the rapid flare-ups that I have been having. I'm not 100% diagnosed...however, I am pretty sure I will be diagnosed with FM/CFS.

  9. Suze

    Suze New Member

    I didn't have FMS at the time, but I was certainly older! The first school I called was quite negative about what they perceived as my poor chances of "competing" with younger students.

    In fact, I think the opposite is true. I think my age, confidence, and life experiences gave me a real advantage. The second school recognized this. I was very much welcomed by the university, who provides classes in studying and test-taking for older returning students. (You can be sure I took them!)

    I had a wonderful time in school. I made many friends, some around my age, some a great deal younger. I "competed" very well, getting excellent grades. Unfortunately, I also got CFS/FMS while I was in school. I can't identify the connection, but I quit after three semesters, thinking I'd revive after a semester off. It didn't work that way...

  10. Suze

    Suze New Member

    I forgot to mention I had a husband and three kids at the time.

  11. mistyd96

    mistyd96 New Member

    I am currently back in school. I am 32, with 3 kids. I attend a private school for Veterinary Technoligy. The majority of the class is fresh out of high school, but they are an awesome group of kids. They make me feel good, as they actually turn to me for help and advice.

    As far as the Fibro, my teacher is SUPER understanding as she was diagnosed 2 years ago! I don't know how I got so lucky!

  12. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    When I returned to college. I had always gone to the big university where all the students were young. When I moved to the city, I transferred to the city college which had an excellent business school. About 1/3 of the student body was nontraditional. Because I had kids the same age as the traditional students, I was able to relate to them and had friends of all ages, from teenagers to an elderly French woman who was studying classical guitar. I was exposed to, and made friends with, people I would likely never had sought out as friends. It was a very rich experience.

    College is easier when one is older. Life experience can help one to be more successful. Profs also like older students because generally, older students are more dedicated to learning. It helped my own kids to see me doing homework and studying at the table with them after school.

    There was a daycare center on site staffed with child development majors. There were many young mothers who were finishing their education. I remember holding one student's young baby at the cafeteria while she ate her lunch. What a thrill for me to get to hold the baby and how nice for her that she could eat in peace, as the baby was fussing in the stroller.

    Where there's a will, there's a way. It can take courage to return to school. I was scared to death when I first made an appt. with a counselor, but I was determined. I hadn't had a math class since 8th grade and because I was pursuing a B.S., I had to take quite a few math classes. I relearned algebra in my summer calculus class. My Plan B was to go for a B.A. if I couldn't hack the math. I did just fine and graduated with honors.

    My heart goes out to all the Moms here who are caring for young children while sick. My heart also goes out to you because you have the added burden of school while sick. God bless you and good luck.

    Love, Mikie
  13. mildred623

    mildred623 New Member

    I just wanted to add one more thing. That's the fact I think it would be easier to be younger and single and be in school than to be married and have no support from your husband that you are trying to get an education.

    What I mean is mine does not support me at all. As a matter of fact he sabotages everything I try to do as far as schoolwork. He does not believe in "higher education" for anyone but especially for women and has been mad at me ever since I started back. He makes "rules" that I can only study or do homework when he is not here etc. And gets mad if I even mention school, saying it's not his problem if I'm having trouble. It's mine for being stupid enough to try and go back.

    Just like today I have a project due tomorrow. I had planned on working on it while he was at work today. Well he got up and didnt go in because he has a "cold". So he just got done telling me to knock it off with the schoolwork. When I told him that it was due tomorrow he tells me then I deserve to fail because I waited till the last minute to finish it.

    I guess my point is I wish I would of went to school when I was younger and single. I dont really care about "support" as far as something praising me but if they cant say anything nice dont say nothing at all.
  14. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    This is clearly passive/aggressive behavior on your husband's part. Passive/aggressives try to use their cunning to control others. I know; I was married to one. They want others to fail so that they don't have to deal with their own feelings of insecurity. They never take responsibility for anything; it's always others' faults.

    Does your school offer any kind of counseling for personal things, perhaps in the psychology dept? You need help in dealing with your husband's behavior. He will do everything in his power to see that you do not have more education than he does. His sense of self worth will not allow it.

    Good luck to you. The problem isn't that you are in school. The problem is that your husband has issues and is a PA. No, I'm not a therapist or any kind of mental health professional. I just spent 26 years married to a PA. Do some research on passive/aggressive behavior on the web. It will be an "Aha Moment" for you.

    Good luck and don't let him sabbotage your future.

    Love, Mikie
  15. starmom

    starmom New Member

    My hubby went back to school 4 years ago to get his masters in MIS. (Computers for Business). He was in a small program, but never really seemed to connect outside of the classroom/study group world. He is in his late 40's now, so mid 40's then. Most of the "non-trad" students were in their late 20s or early 30s. Having a wife who was in constant pain and 3 kids didn't help him. He did work as an instructor every semester after his 1st. Loved teaching. Now he has a job and some of his former students work at his company with him.

    He had a lot of support from the instructors, mostly b/c he is just a great guy, but also b/c my mom taught in a neighboring department at the University.

    One semester he had pneumonia very very bad. Almost died. He still only missed 1 class and never a teaching class. Almost killed his fool self. I gave tests, graded, and drove him to the DOOR of the buildings he needed to go to. And he had a faculty parking sticker from my mom (She wasn't teaching then).

    I have wanted to go back to school for a PhD, but the program here is not the greatest for what I want. And his job is so good we don't watn to move. I think I will wait until I can move about more before I even investigate further.

  16. Pinkgirl

    Pinkgirl New Member

    Again, thanks for your replies, I'm going to be writting my presentation this weekend and I need all the help I can get!

    Next week is finals and then *TADA* I graduate on Thursday!!!!!!! FINALLY!

    Then I'm off to a big university in August... only 4 more years to go and I'll have my MA! (Trying to stay positive or thinking of 4 more years will drive me insane LOL)