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Writing An Essay On Going Back To School

For many people, college was long thought of as a privilege offered only to those who could afford the time and the tuition. In these cases, learning would take a back seat to work or family, and the concept of earning a degree would feel forever out of reach.

That’s changed, fortunately, as online learning has created new opportunities for students anywhere in the world. Recently, Ashford University polled its students on Facebook, asking them to explain their reasons for going back to school. From more than 150 responses, familiar trends began to appear, and the reasons became as diverse as Ashford’s student body.

1) Getting Ahead

Learning new skills and putting oneself in position for career advancement ranked among the most common reasons given for returning to school.

As student Carol Harrington put it, school is necessary to keep up with technology or “we will be lost in the shuffle of being uneducated and jobless.”

Another student, Samantha Leonard, replied, “I am going to school because I am not satisfied with settling for the average – struggle daily and do what is expected – life that I was stuck in for many years.”

2) Personal Achievement

Many respondents said school was a gift they wanted to give themselves, citing the desire to become a better, more educated person as their reason for enrolling in college.

“I think for me it was mostly about challenging myself and just furthering my education,” said Tari Jacobson, a teacher and Ashford student. “Sure, it’s nice to make more money, but for me it was never about money.”

3) Making Up For Lost Time

The path from high school to college isn’t always a straight line, and many times students who are on that route are detoured by work or family commitments. Making the decision to return to school as an adult can be a life-changing experience.

“I have been procrastinating for many years,” said Narda Elizabeth Patino. “I think that now is the time for me.”

“I am going to school to finish what I started,” replied Lisa Foster. “Leaving things undone is the worst kind of regret.”

Many adult learners who said they’d been putting off school for too long added that their children would benefit from their success in more ways than one.

4) For Your Children

“I need to set an example to my 23-year-old son, so he too can pursue an education,” said student Narda Patino.

Students who became parents before they became graduates often mentioned their children as reasons to return to school.

“I want to set an example for my 16-year-old son,” student Rogina Gray-Bryant replied. “I hope to inspire him to do great things and do them no matter what obstacles he faces.”

Another student, Amanda Rousseau, wrote, “I decided to return to school to have a chance at creating a better life for my family and to prove to my son that anything is possible with hard work and the right attitude.”

5) To Be First In Your Family

Being the first in your family to earn a degree means you’ll set the standard for future generations, and it doesn’t matter what age you finish school.

Christina Bean, a student who is also a grandmother, said being the first in her family to earn her degree would change her life and theirs as well. And she wasn’t afraid to go for it even after she “failed” at high school.

“I’m going to school to show my grandson that working hard is worth it,” she said.

6) To Fulfill A Promise

Generations of parents who never had access to school have instilled upon their children the importance of going to college and earning a degree.

Student Melissa Midkiff shared her story of a loved one who passed away in hospice, and the promise she made to go to school and work toward improving the conditions for patients and families dealing facing similar struggles.

She now wants to become a patient advocate, saying, “I would love to help other families receive better care in the future.”

7) Because You’re Never Too Old

While an adult learner may feel out of place in a traditional college, online learning breaks down those barriers, creating opportunities for students of all ages. Many respondents admitted they felt “too old” to return to school at first, but their attitude quickly changed when they realized how much an education meant to their lives.

“I have a friend [say] ‘you’re not too old to start on your degree,’” said Knox JuAnita Durely Hill. “So, here I am today earning my BA in Early Education.”

Venicia Kane replied, “I went back to prove even ‘old mom’ – age 46 – could finish my first BA. I am now 52 and have my MBA.”

While many of the students gave similar reasons for returning to school, one overarching theme became apparent in the responses: the future. No one could predict how things were going to turn out with family or their career, but all of the students were confident they’d made the right decision to go back to school, no matter what may happen.

You can read the complete thread of responses on Ashford University’s Facebook page.

Written by Jason R. Latham, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education






“Being a nontraditional student has been an experience that I have enjoyed. Going back to school was a big step for me and I had been very worried about making that step. I was afraid with the amount of time that it had been since I had graduated from high school and was uncertain of being able to succeed with good grades. Once attending classes I found that I was still capable of being a productive student.

The instructors have been very patient and have made me realize you are never to old to go back to college. With the uncertainty I had experienced and the nervousness that I felt, the instructors made the experience of attending college a great relief. With the diversity of the students and their ages, I feel I have experienced a greater aspect of what the business world will be like. I feel a since of great accomplishment as each semester ends. Learning new skills in my field and building my knowledge has given me more confidence.

As classes have become more challenging, I have had to study harder and have found I can overcome these challenges. As I overcome these challenges, I find that I look forward to the next challenge and the one after that. Going back to college has given me the opportunity to express myself and to believe in myself. I know that I can establish myself in the field I have chosen and become a success in this field. It has been very difficult being a divorced woman with two teenage sons but, as I have become more knowledgeable in my field I can see my sons becoming proud of their mom. With the experiences I have had attending college and overcoming obstacles, I hope to have showed my sons that anything is possible!”- L.F., age 40.



“I decided to begin college again in the summer of 1999 by taking a Shoreline Ecology class through Linfield College at the Oregon coast. This was a one-week "hands-on" class and the course description sounded really interesting. My husband and I each took one week off from work -- we drove to the coast and set up camp at Beverly Beach State Park outside Newport, Oregon.

Each morning, my huband dropped me off at the meeting site and he met me again after class was over. Each evening, we made dinner over a campfire (or went to town) and I then studied by Coleman lantern and slept in a sleeping bag in a tent. This was part of my great experience!

Unfortunately, shortly before class began, I had knee surgery to remove torn cartilage, and I missed the lecture part of the class held at the main campus in McMinnville. The professor gave me the name and phone number of a fellow student, who was really kind and shared her lecture notes with me.

During the field trips at the coast, I was required to keep a journal and draw and classify every organism, plant, animal, bird and fish that I encountered. Even though I can only draw stick figures, I pretended I was an artist during class and I drew everything in sight. I told myself not to be afraid! I made up for my crude drawings by identifying features and writing extensive descriptions.

Since I knew I would be in the tidepools and thought I might slip on mossy or wet surfaces, I had my knee surgeon order an elaborate knee brace for stability. I looked like "Robocop." One morning, we were going to a tidepool in an area known as Boiler Bay. It is down an incredibly steep slope and I was really worried about my knee holding up, even with the knee brace. Three male students roped me down the cliff face and were very gentle and patient with me. It took me a really long time to get down and then in the afternoon, to get back up the cliff face. Another older woman was helped by the same students, too. It helped that the professor just assumed that we would find out way down - and he was right not to coddle us.

I was amazed to find out that my fellow students were as old or older than me, and even traveled greater distances to attend the class. Three students came over from Bend, Oregon! We students were so enthusiastic!! We got up early to study the organisms in the low intertidal zones, drove to sand dunes to study plants, put boots on and slogged around in muddy flats, visited an oyster farm and the Hatfield Marine Science Center, and generally spent all day together. We ended up in teams helping each other in the different classifications of plants, animals, birds and fishes. We became good friends and exchanged addresses and phone numbers.

I have spent time with some of my fellow students and I know that they feel as I do because they have articulated their thoughts. I am more dedicated and have a clearer vision of the college experience than when I was younger. I am also very proud to say that I have a 3.9 cumulative GPA while continuing to work full-time as a paralegal. My employer is very happy that I am back in college. He believes that one should be a 'lifelong student'.”- P.E., age 44.

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