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Is It Worth Going Back to School?

Is It Worth Going Back to School?

It didn't add up financially, but God led me to a master's degree anyway
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I didn't recognize the plain white cardboard envelope resting between the screen and front doors—a non-descript, slender package with "do not bend" stamped in red on the front. I could have mistaken it for any number of mail-order envelopes with cheap, used books inside. I broke the seal and peered in.

Feet dancing, hands pumping above my head, my celebration was a simultaneous outpouring of relief and joy.

My delight was instantaneous. Inside was a single sheet of white paper resting in a clear plastic cover. I had nearly forgotten its promised arrival. Feet dancing, hands pumping above my head, my celebration was a simultaneous outpouring of relief and joy. After years of hard work and sacrifice—mine as well as my husband's— my master's degree was acknowledged on paper with ink.

It had been nearly four years since I decided to return to school. The coursework and graduate project that followed were challenging and difficult. Some days, writing, reading, and weeping late into the night, I could hardly remember why I went back. But sorting through the reasons why I wanted to return in advance of my decision was what gave me the strength and determination to finish.

Hope, promise, and payback

When I explored the opportunity to return to school, I was one of many women who were flooding post-secondary institutions. Adult women returning to school was already a growing national trend, but the recession caused an additional surge.

Women of all ages were attending colleges and universities in large numbers. Degree attainment statistics between men and women had shifted in both bachelor and graduate programs. According to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of women completing bachelor's degrees had increased over men by 7 percent since the mid-1990s, and women completing graduate degrees had outpaced men by 3 percent over the same period.

More relevant to me was the number of people over the age of 35. The NCES predicts that people in this age demographic enrolled in degree programs would exceed 4.1 million by 2015. According to ABC News, we "middle-agers" strongly believe that post-secondary education improves the quality of life by providing higher pay and better opportunities.

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From Issue:
Today's Christian Woman, 2014, July Week 5
Posted July 30, 2014

also in this issue

July Week 5
The Education Debate

The Education Debate

What to consider when deciding on your child's schooling
Get Smart

Get Smart

Finding the right fit for education
Why I Homeschool

Why I Homeschool

The gift of teaching my own children
Christian Kids in Public School

Christian Kids in Public School

It's a choice driven by my faith

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August 02, 2014  6:01pm

Thanks for your article! I encourage women to reconsider their life and revisit education. It is never to late. I returned to graduate school at ages 40 and 50. The 1st time, I completed an MBA. Then at at 50, I returned to graduate school by attending seminary. After 8 1/2 wonderful years of study, I left with 2 seminary masters and a doctorate. It was so enjoyable to study through my personal life journey of self discovery. If I can do it, you can do. No I am not that smart; just self disciplined and personally fulfilled through education.

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Christine Rhyner

August 01, 2014  9:02pm

I applaud your efforts at returning to school and being teachable not only in class, but to what God spoke to your heart at the time. I've often considered returning to school, but not because I think I have achieved mediocrity. I just published a book and traveled across the globe into difficult, hard won efforts to bring home two internationally adopted children from different countries. After achieving a BS degree, I chose a career in advertising, but after giving my life to the Lord found this work unsettling and lacking real purpose--for me. A series of low-paying unsatisfying jobs has resulted over the past 16 years. I have often wished that I had picked something really specific in my educational pursuits and stuck with it, excelling in it over all these years--thus providing the financial payoff that would have allowed us to have more opportunities. I'd be interested to know where this leads for you and if you find work you can be passionate about. Thanks for sharing!

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August 01, 2014  2:59pm

This article touched my online student heart, as a empty nest,unemployed homemaker, 60 year old woman i identified completely with Mary's description of the difficulties and the rewards of continuing education. Thank you for a lovely uplifting article.

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